Errant Muse

Sara stared at the screen. The cursor blinked back at her, laughing or accusing. She wasn’t entirely sure which.

She stood and stretched. Maybe coffee would help. Or a quick walk, get the blood going. The cursor kept blinking.

She could check her social media. That was important. She needed to make sure she was reaching people and engaging them so they would be more interested in reading her work. At least, that’s what all the articles said.

The cursor wasn’t going away.

Sara twisted and flexed her shoulders. She bent at the waist to touch her toes. She needed a snack. That was it. A snack and maybe one episode of The Handmaid’s Tale.

“Oh for fuck’s sake, just get to it already!”

Sara whirled and stumbled, grabbing the edge of her desk before she fell over. She lived alone and should have been afraid to hear a stranger in her home. Oddly, she wasn’t. The voice felt familiar.

Her couch was occupied by a slender woman of staggering beauty. Strawberry blonde curls tumbled in heavy waves over bare marble-toned shoulders to lay across utterly perfect lush breasts. A white toga-like dress clung to the curves, allowing for little in the way of imagination. Impossibly long legs stretched across the cushions in a way that invited hands to explore. Sara dragged her gaze back up to a face carved by the gods themselves. She caught her breath and tumbled heart first into the greenest eyes ever created. A shiver raced across her skin. She didn’t know if she wanted to write this woman or bed her. Maybe both. Either way, her mouth was too dry for words.

The delicate stranger lifted a tiny, perfect fist to her mouth and belched, “Oof. Root beer. That stuff will get ya.” She leaned forward and muttered, then reached out to snap her fingers. Even though she was across the room, Sara both felt and heard that snap happen right in front of her eyes.

The woman nodded, “It’s no wonder mortals can’t get anything done. You’re too easily distracted.”

The spell was broken. She was still stunning, but Sara could look past the glamour and gather her own thoughts again, along with her voice, “Mortals… wha… who the hell are you?”

A slender hand flapped at her, “You know damned well who I am. You’ve been begging me to help all week. You’re not my only client, you know. I actually thought I could count on you. You’ve rarely needed much more than a whisper of encouragement. Until now. What happened? You get dumped?”

“You’re my muse!” The truth struck like a thunderbolt.

“Give the woman a cookie.”

Sara frowned. Her muse was cranky. “I’m Sara.”

“No shit? Yes, dear, I know who you are. I’m your muse. But if that’s your fumbling way of asking my name, call me Clio.”

Sara blushed, ready to apologize for her clumsiness, when a college course came back to her, “Clio? But I don’t write history.”

Mocking laughter filled the small room, “You mortals and your labels. I’m far more than history, babe. And let me really blow your mind. I’m not the only Clio. Names have power, toots, and we just met.”

Call me Clio. Not I am Clio.

“Clio, then. I – yes, I need your help.”

The muse sat up, then stood. She strolled over to Sara, sensual slink in each step. Sara felt that haze begin to surround her again. Images swirled of soft sheets and too many pillows. Of starlit skies, tossed waves, salty air. Her lips parted as Clio’s hand reached for her. Yes. Please.

She wasn’t aware she had actually spoken until her cheek lit up in pain. If she were to look in the mirror, there would be a small, perfect, red handprint. Clio had slapped her.

Hard.

“Ow! Hey!”

“Oh shut up. You don’t need my help. You need to trust yourself. I’m happy to whisper now and then, but I don’t do house calls often. There’s too damned many of you. So this is your one-time-visit. Don’t waste it.”

Clio vanished. Sara raised her hand to her stinging cheek, wanting the sensation to linger and prove she hadn’t just suffered a stroke. She looked around. The couch was empty. Even her cat was elsewhere. She was entirely alone.

Or maybe not so entirely. As she sat at her desk and placed her hands on the keyboard, the scent of sea air surrounded her. She looked down. A small, perfectly shaped tulip shell rested on the base of her monitor. The soft rose colour echoed strawberry blonde curls.

Sara stroked the shell and smiled, “Thank you.”

As she began to type, the memory of a whisper caressed her ear, “You’re welcome, babe.”