I can’t believe I made that call. It was a stupid idea. One made in the wet desperation of a broken dream while the night watched on in silent laughter.
I sat up in bed. That wasn’t half bad actually. Maybe a bit poetic, but at least it had feeling. Too many of my words had no feeling in them. I purposefully faced towards the sun and let the light warm me. But I could do this. I would just patch up my dream with some tape and carry on. Duck tape this time. No one ever wrote a good book the first time anyway. I just had to get through the muck of hating every other sentence and losing interest after the first reread. The quality will come with practice.
I would be a writer one day. No. I am a writer. I will be an author one day.
With my hope rekindled I officially began my day. Eggs and bacon sound good. I can already smell the salty earthen flavor. I salivate a little as I prepare the stove then freeze as I notice the time on the clock. It’s already one in the afternoon. But I remember waking up at eight. Did I really sit in bed thinking for that long?
It wouldn’t be the first time I had breakfast for lunch so I continued cooking. But my first hit of the day has been made. My heart was still beating, just a little bruised. But it was used to that. They said being a writer was hard but I never thought I would be my own worst enemy quite so much. If only…
A knock came at the door and made me jump. Who… oh. Thinking about canceling the appointment is not the same as actually making the call. Now I had to talk to a real person. I’m not sure which is harder but the choice was made for me.
First-person contact. I prepared what I was going to say as I slowly walked to the door. I needed to be kind as it was my fault for changing my mind at the last minute. But not too mild in case they were a business type. I could walk away from this with the entire pyramid scheme’s vacuum cleaners then.
A second knock. I’ve made them wait too long. I hurriedly open the door.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I found an email advertising muse for writers. A motivational speaker? A business planner? A poet comes to randomly state phrases that might or might not inspire me? But I did not expect the shady figure on my porch. They were wearing a full-length robe like a grim reaper except for gray. But it was so enveloping that I couldn’t see a single patch of skin. I instantly felt chilled. This is why I normally don’t even look at my spam.
It was time to ‘nope on outta there’. I don’t even get a word out. I just shake my head and close the door. But it gets caught and bounces back. I look down and find a foot blocking the doorway. At least I think it’s a foot as even that is covered in gray cloth. Before I can decide on a course of action the figure slips in like a ghost. I instantly back up and fumble for my phone and a weapon. But the thing moves like lightning and snatches the phone from my fingers and replaces the umbrella with a pencil.
“Do you prefer to lounge or sit at a desk?” it asks in a voice that was both malen and femalen at the same time.
I freeze as I recognize words coming from it. “Wha-what?”
“For writing,” it replies. “Do you find yourself more inclined to write while sitting at a desk or lounging in a more comfortable place?”
I could feel myself getting both tenser and more relaxed at the same time as I finally understood that it was asking about my writing preferences. It was a question I could answer. But did I want to? Such a curious experience.
“Why?” I asked.
The thing cocks it’s head. “Because you requested a muse. In order for me to help you, you must first put in some effort yourself. It’s a simple question is it not?”
This was my muse appointment. “But why are you dressed like the grim reaper? Why did you force your way into my home? Why did you take my phone? You are giving me some serious murder vibes here and how is this supposed to help me write?” That many words left me a little out of breath.
It sighed. “You didn’t read the subtext did you?”
It seemed to be fond of sighing as it practiced that expression some more with a few grunts added in while rummaging through its cloak. A minute later it pulls something out and offers it to me. It’s a piece of paper.
It still unnerves me that I can’t see its hand, but I take it anyway. I take another step back closer to the hallway and escape then read. It was a copy of the email in flier form. At the bottom there was indeed some minuscule text that I hadn’t read last night.
Be forewarned that unless you cancel the appointment, the muse assigned to you will take to their job with enthusiasm. They will come clad in nothing and close you off from the outside world. They will deprive you of distracting forces and encourage you to do your best. Each muse has their own special trick to unlocking your mind but as there are infinite varieties of people, we cannot guarantee your muse will work one hundred percent of the time. We can offer a second muse appointment but there are no refunds.
“Special trick?” I look up.
It pulls out a harp. “I can imitate the feel of nature through music. I find it soothes my clients and encourages their minds to wander.”
A harp. Soothing me. For a wandering mind. From the grim reaper who pushed their way into my house and stole my phone. With no refunds.
Sure. What could go wrong?
“Let’s go to my reading room then. Just let me turn off the stove.” And I proceeded to do just that.
Its words were very encouraging and the music was nice in my tiny library. I’m not sure I acquired the right mood for maximum writing potential as was advertised. But since I did get some words down, even if it felt a little forced, I bid my grim reaper muse with thanks.
The real treat was that I now had a real-life story to write down. Because who wouldn’t call this an adventure?
Photo by Prateek Katyal