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Blue Muse

Copyright 2014, Will Thurston

This short story was the result of a brief writing exercise with friends. I thought I would share it with others, although it isn’t exactly how I get the inspiration for my stories…

I was surprised how much the little thing looked like me. It was as if I was looking at a strange-coloured reflection, our an unusually tinted photograph of myself in miniature. The facial expressions, the style of the hair and the arrogant sway of the shoulders whilst sitting next to my desk lamp caused me to wonder, ‘do I look like that?’ I knew the answer as I shifted uncomfortably in my seat for a moment. Somehow this little person had copied my appearance and my actions, and I didn’t like it.

Obviously there were differences between the two of us: He was only one foot tall to my six feet. My job involved writing stories, and it seemed that his job, as I was about discover, was to help provide them.

“Nice to meet you Will,” he said. “I’m Joshua, and I’m a professional muse.”

His comment partly confused and partly confirmed my thoughts.

“A professional muse?” I thought aloud. I had always thought that a muse was some mystical, invisible being, or some form of temporary love interest. I had no idea that someone could actually be a muse professionally, and I was even more surprised to find that a mini dwarf sized figure could be employed as such.

I was about to ask whether he took on the appearance of all his clients, and how it all worked when, without warning, he picked up a hardback book from the corner of my desk and whacked me around the head with it.

“What did you do that for?” I asked, rubbing the sore spot on the crown of my head.

“Hurts, doesn’t it?” the muse said, suppressing a laugh and replacing the book. I secretly hoped that I had never worn such an irritating smug look, but again, I felt I knew the truth.

“Of course it hurts!” I almost shouted back at him.

“I wanted you to feel the weight of the printed word in an instantly meaningful way.”

“I have all sorts of printed material. You couldn’t have used a magazine, or a leaflet?”

The muse shook his head, knowingly. “No, it has to be a hardback. Nothing else hurts the same way as the corner of a first edition. A hard back to the back of a hard head.”

“So… why does it have to hurt?” I asked.

He shook his head, disdain written all over his tiny features. It was as if he was speaking to a man who knew nothing about life, let alone the art of writing. His reaction made me feel even smaller than him.

“I mean it,” I said in defence before he could respond verbally. “Being hit over the head with other books doesn’t teach me about books.”

“You, sir,” he said pointing an index finger at me as if trying to bore through, “you have a lot to learn if you can’t figure that out.”

“I’m suffering from writer’s block, not boredom. I need inspiration, not injury.”

“You wanted words and ideas. I just forcefully introduced you to a hundred thousand.”

I rubbed my head again. “And I have the bump to prove it.”

“I bet you’d start writing now if I threatened to do it again.”

I picked up my pen and returned my attention to the pad of lined paper, ignoring the crumpled paper I had to brush to one side.

“What should I write about?” I asked the muse as I turned my head.

He was nowhere to be seen. Joshua had gone.

I shrugged my shoulders, put pen to paper and immediately started to create something new and exciting. The idea started to take on a life of its own with colourful characters and fresh ideas. I struggled to recall the last time something so supremely new had flowed from my mind.

I paused momentarily to consider the singularity of the visit of the strange little muse. His cameo had been brief, but his influence would last a little longer. Without our brief and bruising encounter, my struggle to craft and create may well have continued for some time.

With the bump on my head proving to be a reminder as well as recognition of the reality of my own personal renaissance, I smiled to myself, wondering if Joshua, the mean little muse, was working his magic with another anxious author.

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