All of us have a muse. Just be thankful that most us can’t see them. She’s been with me, as long as I can remember, a pale woman, never a girl, always just a few steps away from me, no matter where I am. She never speaks to me. Not in words that I can hear, but I can feel her in my mind, when I sit down to write, when the ideas start to flow.
When I was little, I used to try to convince my mother of Her reality, it was always dismissed as a game, a little bit of play acting. She had an imaginary friend when she was young too she’d say with a smile. After a while I could see the worry on her face whenever I mentioned “The Woman.” – I never really had a name for Her, didn’t understand what exactly She was, I didn’t have the words. Not back then. – And so I let it drop. I stopped mentioning Her, started to try ignoring Her, though as I got older this grew more difficult.
I’d see Her every time I looked over my shoulder, every time I looked in the mirror, and I soon came to realize that She was beautiful, Her plump lips always slightly upturned as if we were sharing some private joke. Though this smile never seemed to reach Her eyes which were a pale shade of green, always fixing onto mine when I looked at Her. Her hair long, and richly black, and She always wore the same long green dress, old fashioned, like something from a story book without the lace and the ruffles.
I’ve always been creative but mercurial, my passions shifting from one pursuit to the other, first drawing, then painting, playing instruments, anything that involves an expression of myself. But my true love has always been writing. When I write I lose myself in the story, it pours out of me like a torrent. I’m almost never at a loss for words. But I find it so draining. A few hours of writing and I feel like I’ve been working a full day, bone tired fatigued. And I never really understood why until I was in my late teens.
I was home from school and rattling around my empty house, Mom was working and Dad was out of state. So I decided to go down to the local coffee shop and try to get some work done. There’d been a particularly complex story that I’d been working on, my first real attempt at a novel, and I wanted some time to proofread, but I didn’t like being alone with Her. As I pushed through the doors of the shop, I noticed something odd. A man who looked to be in his late fifties sitting and typing feverishly, this in itself wasn’t strange. But what was behind him was…There was a woman standing there, similar enough to mine to be her twin, the same generous features, the same green eyes, but her hair was red, a brilliant fiery red. As he wrote she leaned in close her lips pressing against his ears, her hands resting on his shoulders, she seemed to be whispering something, though he was not responding, simply typing away. I started to approach them, to talk to him, to her, but then I saw her nails. They were long, curving slightly downwards, sinking into his flesh through his shirt and as I watched I could see a faint pulsing glow rising upwards along them, from him into her and he began to droop visibly, reaching to take a deep sip of his coffee, fatigue suddenly registering on his features.
I fled as soon as my mind registered this, pushed back out the doors and ran all the way home. I didn’t stop till I was in my room, throwing myself beneath the covers and hiding there for all the good it would do me. They looked so much alike, that strange woman and my Muse, was She doing the same to me? I let the idea go, tried not to thing about it. To force it out of my head then one day on the front page of the paper I saw a story about a local writer who had died “tragically early.” The picture was of the man I’d seen at the coffee shop just a few months previously. His age was listed as thirty-five, but he’d apparently been quite prolific, eight novels to his name. The cause of death was hear attack. This couldn’t be right I told myself, from the picture alone he seemed to be on the cusp of seniority, sixty I would have believed. I went to the computer, googling his name, confident the paper had been a typo. It was not. The information was accurate. There were all kinds of theories about his appearance, about his gray hair, including drugs, but I knew better. It was her, it was whatever she had been taking from him. And I now knew what I had to do. I had to see if She was doing the same to me as his woman had done to him. I had to know. I set up a mirror on my desk, she never appeared on film, placed it just in front of myself, so I could glance up at a moments notice and I began to write. Nothing at first, my interest more on staring at the mirror, trying to catch her then the act of writing itself. But finally I found the rhythm of it, the words pouring forth once more. And I glanced up. And I saw Her, looking back at me. Her nails in my flesh, her lips on my ear, I could have been the man in that shop in that moment. I threw the notebook away from me, vowed never to write another word, hoping to starve her.
But the ideas, they just kept coming, flooding into my consciousness at the worst moments, drowning out everything else. I lasted a little over a year till I had to give up. I sat down at my PC, and I typed, for hours, the words flowing forth like a river breaking a dam. When I finished I could barely move the short distance from my chair to my bed. I collapsed, not even having the energy to pull the sheets over me and woke sixteen hours later, the bed beneath me, and my clothes soaked with sweat, my entire body aching. I dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom, trying to tell myself it was nothing, just a fever, it couldn’t be anything else Then I looked into the mirror, and I found the first streak of gray. I was sixteen. My mother nearly fainted when I came downstairs, she immediately drove me to the doctor. He told us he couldn’t find anything wrong, said it was probably just stress, nothing to worry about and sent me home.
I learned my lesson then. I didn’t try to bottle it up anymore…Eight years later, that’s still my only streak of gray, but I easily pass for thirty. My face is lined my bones ache. Every time I set pen to paper or finger to key she feels a bit more solid, I can feel her touch even now, feel her lips brushing against my skin. It’s addictive, her presence. Comforting almost. feel a little bit of myself flowing out of me every-time I write but I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop, and I know that She’ll take me if I do, I’m sure of it. She’ll take me all at once instead of in pieces, my face the next in the paper.