The stage IV muse
She is much better now. Still wearing my old clothes, but it almost looks intentional now, and dare we say - vintage? There's color on her cheeks and a little meat on her bones and she no longer looks like someone left out in the cold during long winter nights. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of her dancing barefooted to Sinatra and Cohen and jump crazily to Deadmau5. I can't help but smirk.
My daemon is recovering. My muse is getting better, I think.
We indulge ourselves in those moments of contentedness that last mere minutes.
You see, if she was ever ill, I was the cause of it, and we both know that. So now there's an edge between us, even on the good days, and I must say we're mostly getting good days.
We go to dinner parties and play lovers.
"Isn't she wonderful?" I say, and she pirouettes in her only long dress.
"Oh, I love that clever smirk of his," she would say, doe-eyed, sometime between the first and the last whiskey.
But then there's the long drive home and the silence scares me, and I'd rather fill that with noise, and I resent my mental clarity, and I miss the bottles near my bed, their too-comfy lullabies. Tomorrow's the chance, tomorrow's the chance to be great, today was just mediocre.
It would be hard to be happy as a creator, in this market, even if we could make peace. Why join forces and face an uphill battle? It's way easier to stick to our petty squabbles and blame ourselves. 'Failure is a necessary step to success', we say, 'let's fail better'. Facing the alternative is too scary. Success might just be a coin toss away, but we don't get to toss it, we don't even get to know whose coin it is.
"What more would you ask?" I tell her. "My toils will pay for your expensive hobbies, hopefully for many years to come, until I will have no more stories left to tell and you’ll leave me for some young, edgy kid who thinks the world owes him."
She clutches the hem of her dress. “I’m not like that.”
I gift her my grimace.
“Fuck, I know I was.” It’s a white lie. The edgy kid is still there, somewhere, encased in layers of guilt and recycled trauma. “Then how is it?”
“I…” her voice is breaking over such a simple matter. “I just wish you wouldn’t see me as an enemy.”
My reflection stares back at me from the window of this metaphorical car I’m driving.
“Enemies are easier to deal with,” says the Inner Critic. “We have procedures.”
“Fuck procedures! What else can I do? Do you want me to bleed, like that guy? You know I cannot do it. I…”
“I never wished you ill.” She puts her hands on mine. “But sometimes you choose and sometimes you’re chosen, and I’ve chosen you, and I won’t let go. If it has to be a curse, so be it.”
I’m shaking. The road is so dark ahead and the lights barely cut through the night. On the rear-view mirror I see the Inner Critic shrug, but I pay him no mind.
“The stories won’t leave you,” says the muse. “not before your wits, at least.”
Oof. We’re hitting all the hard topics tonight, catching my fears like fireflies in a jar.
“I’m fine with that. I just don’t get why I must feel so lonely.”
“I will be there regardless. To witness the spark in your eyes while you tell your stories, when no one else does. Despite what you did to me. Despite what I did to you.”
She latches on. If only I could stop time and take this moment as a picture, frozen, I would. A message to make myself remember during the next, inevitable sugar crash. But that’s the nature of this kind of conversation. I’m bound to forget, to suffer, to relive it all over again, to struggle and to overcome, in a movement Hegel would be proud of, I guess.
“Sometimes you chose, sometimes you are chosen.” I spit out. She has this beautiful, uncertain smile.
I’m driving towards a river, and I’m not sure I will find a bridge to wait for me there.