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Musings

by Bob Arnold
Copyright 2002 - All rights reserved

 

For my friend, Rebecca…

Musings - A short story to try to break my writer's block.

I sat transfixed at the blank page at the bottom of the latest chapter of Zapped. The words that had flowed so easily for the last sixty pages just weren't coming. They hadn't for the last five days. I was beginning to believe that my luck had ended with the stories. The creative juices had finally run out.

"Why can't I write? What can I do to get going again?" After a few more moments of staring at the screen I heard a decidedly feminine sigh behind me then I felt an arm snake around my neck to hug me. The back of my head pressed against two large mounds then I felt a gentle kiss on my forehead. I was so shocked at the pleasant but unexpected intrusion on my solitude that I jumped almost a foot straight up. When I landed back in the chair I lost my balance and hit my head on the hardwood floor. I saw two feminine feet in sandals with deep red polish on the toenails as I passed out.

Some time later I woke to find a cold wet cloth on my forehead. The face before was one of incredible beauty. The inky black long hair framed a face with the biggest brown eyes I've ever seen. Her nose was cute and slightly turned up at the end over a set of full lips covered in the same color lipstick as the toenails. I fell in love instantly with the beautiful woman standing over me.

"Umm… who are you and how did you get in here?"

"You can SEE ME?"

"Sure." I reached out a hand and gently poked her shin. She squeaked in surprise then smiled back at me with the most wonderful smile that I've ever seen.

"Well, this sure puts a different spin on things. Can you get up? Are you all right?"

"I think so. Let me try." I started to sit up then the world took a sharp jog to the right and I slumped back to the floor. "Umm… I don't think so."

The mystery woman bent down to me and touched her hand to my head. I felt a warmth flow through me almost the same as the hug I felt earlier. "There, now try it again slowly."

This time I felt normal as I sat up on the floor. I rested for a few moments then slowly got back on my feet. I decided that the chair in front of the computer looked pretty inviting so I sat back down in it. The woman moved another chair next to mine and sat down.

"So you still haven’t told me who you are and how you got in here. Care to explain?"

"Bob, I don't know if you'd believe me."

"Why don't you try it and let me judge. Let's start with how you know my name?"

"I know the names of all of my clients. It's my job."

"Your job? What kind of job gives you the ability to sneak into my home and scare the crap out of me?"

"Sorry about that. You're the first one that's ever reacted like that. You weren't supposed to physically feel that and you shouldn't be able to see me either unless I want you too. What I gave you was supposed to be a hug and a kiss for your soul. That you felt it physically means that you're one of the special ones."

"You still haven't told me anything. Why are you here?"

"You asked me to come and help." Her face took on that little girl pout.

"I asked you?"

"Yes you did. I believe your words were, and I quote, 'Why can't I write? What can I do to get going again?' Is that what you said?"

"Yup, I did say that."

She sighed deeply. "Well, I'm Muriel, daughter of Calliope, the muse of epic poetry."

"Nobody writes epic poetry much any more you know. So you're a muse are you?"

"I know. I've branched out to other types of writing over the years. Uh… are you saying that you actually BELIEVE that I'm a muse?"

"Muriel, I've been writing for a little over a year now. I'm just not that good a writer. I figure someone has to have given me plenty of inspiration to write what I did. If it was you then I am forever in your debt. Thank you my sweet goddess for all of your help." I reached over and took her hand in mine and gently kissed it.

I watched as she blushed then that wonderful smile of hers filled my soul with joy again.

"Thanks, Bob. I don't get to hear from my clients. They don't realize I've visited them. All they know is that they've had a flash of inspiration."

"I know. I've felt it many times before. I wonder why things have changed now? I can see you."

"I'm not certain either. All I know is that this is a very rare occurrence. Only a few of my sisters have experienced this in thousands of years."

"Your sisters? Oh, that's right, the legend of the seven sisters."

"Yes. Each of the original sisters has had a daughter and we've continued on the tradition. Call it the family business." She giggled at the joke.

"Sounds like a long term job with great security to me."

"You got that right. It IS a job. I haven't had a break or a vacation in a thousand years. Hmm… I think I know a way to get you writing again and for me to have myself a few days off. Bob, do you trust me?"

"You've never steered me wrong yet, Muriel. I trust you."

"Then just close your eyes. OK?" I simple nodded then closed my eyes tightly.

I felt her warm luscious lips press against my own as little shocks coursed through my body. I felt a tingling sensation from head to toes then our lips parted. I opened my eyes to find my own face looking back at me!

"What did you…" The voice I heard was NOT my own. I heard her soft silky smooth voice instead. "What did you do to me?"

"I switched us a for a little while. We get to be each other for a few days. I get my vacation and YOU get to find out what it's like to be a muse, abilities and all."

"But I can't do your job, I know absolutely NOTHING about…"

She raised a finger to my lips to quiet me. "Yes, you CAN. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Do you still trust me?"

I nodded in agreement then closed my eyes again. I took a few deep breaths then cleared any other thoughts from my mind. After a few seconds, it all became clear. Thousands of years of Muriel's memories flooded into my mind. I suddenly understood it all, the abilities, Muriel's job, everything.

"WOW! I know now, Muriel. I understand."

"Then you know you'd better get going. You have lots to do."

"I guess I do." I held out my hands and in moments I was holding an ornate leather bound writing tablet and a small leather bag. I knew the bag contained a small ancient ink well and a small assortment of quill pens made from real feathers. I opened the tablet and looked at the list of names. A few were fellow writers that I had chatted with on the chat rooms at Crystal's site. At the top of the list was one name that meant a lot to me.

"Muriel, I'll be back later. I have some inspiration to distribute."

"I know. I'm going to get some sleep. I am, after all, a mortal for the moment and I must say it feels good to be tired and hungry."

"Will you be all right here?"

"I'll be fine. I do have all of your memories now. I'll do a great job of covering for you. I really do need the vacation."

I nodded then closed my eyes and focused on the first name on the list, Rebecca in Vancouver. When I opened my eyes, I was standing at the foot of a bed. Rebecca was huddled under the covers shivering slightly. I knew that the chemotherapy was taking its toll on her body and guessed that she must have had another treatment session earlier in the day. I leaned over and put my hand on her forehead for a few moments. The shivering stopped and a calm relaxed expression spread over her face as she fell into a deep sleep. I knew that I couldn't change what was to happen but I could momentarily take away some of the pain. The powers I now possessed couldn’t change the future nor could I look forward into it. What would happen to Rebecca was in the hands of her doctors and the fates.

I learned then that Muriel's internal torment came from tens of thousands of situations just like this one, having powers to help people and not being able to fully help with their problems. Tears started to fill my eyes as I brushed the hair out of Rebecca's face. I knew I couldn't stay and, even if I could stay, I couldn't show myself to her. I opened the tablet again and focused on the name now at the top of the list.

I spent the next five days visiting a great many people on that always changing and never ending list. The list of writers needing inspiration was astounding. I managed to visit Tom Clancy while he was working on his latest novel and JK Rowling to inspire her to complete book five of her series of books about a boy at a magical school. A great many authors received a gentle whisper in the ear or a hug around the shoulder.

I eventually returned to my home to find Muriel relaxing in front of the television watching some of the movies in my collection. "Xanadu" with Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John was playing at the moment. She was laughing at the events unfolding in story.

I sat down on the couch beside her. "You know, I'll never look at that tape in quite the same way now."

She looked over at me and smiled. "So how were the past few days, Bob?"

"Very interesting, Muriel. I understand so much more about things now. I know that my writers block is over."

"Want to change back now?"

"Yes, I do, Muriel."

"Then you know what you have to do."

I leaned forward toward my old body and closed my eyes as we kissed. I felt the same tingling sensation as before and when I opened my eyes I was looking back at the smiling face of the black haired angel I first saw five days ago. I leaned forward and hugged her tightly.

"Muriel, I want you to know that you're always welcome here and that, in the future, if you ever need a another vacation I would be honored to substitute for you again. I know that we can never be more than friends and your friendship means so much more to me know than it did just a few days ago. Oh, and a favor for me? Can you keep looking in on Rebecca?" She nodded in agreement.

I thought I saw a tear in the corner of her eye. "I enjoyed the time, Bob. I will be back again. I have to go now." She reached toward me and nearly hugged the stuffing out of me. When I opened my eyes, she was gone.

That was days ago. Now it all seems like a dream to me. Did I really take the place of a muse or was I only dreaming that I did? It all seemed so real. I still can't explain the feelings every now and then that someone is watching me and gently putting a hand on my shoulder. I only hope that, if it was real, that Muriel is happy and that some day she'll return.

The End

 

 

 

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2002 by Bob Arnold. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.