The Fate Of The Muse

By: Derrolyn Anderson

Everything, that is, except for me.

So, I grappled with the looming possibility of Peter’s murderers coming back for me, combined with the grilling I was scheduled to receive from a council of fellow hybrid muses. It was almost too much to take all at once. I dropped my head into my hands as Evie rubbed my back soothingly.

“Everything will be alright,” she said, “We simply need to come up with a story and stick to it. I have many dear friends on the council, and I’m certain they’ll side with us.”

The council suspected that I was different from the rest of them, and they were right. Peter had watched me, finding out about my ability to communicate with mermaids in the hopes of using it to capture more of them. I wondered how much he’d said; for as far as I knew, I was the only one capable of speaking the mermaid’s strange language.

Evie straightened her spine and smoothed her skirt, “Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary in the past few weeks? Anything suspicious at all?” I shook my head no.

She went on, a model of efficiency as usual, “I had Boris sweep your house and car for bugs while we were at dinner. He found nothing.” I sighed, feeling a strange mixture of annoyance and relief.

“Evie?” I raised my head, casting a suspicious eye at her “Why did you choose that restaurant?”

She smiled placidly, “Oh honey, I really did want to see Megan sing again… And isn’t everything else all water under the bridge by now?”

I sighed, “For me it is… So, what was all that with Omar?” I asked, cocking a brow at her.

“Marina,” She tossed her head and smoothed her platinum blonde hair, “I may not be immortal… but I’m not dead yet!”

Evie and I talked for a while, going over some of the possible questions and coming up with a story. When the car finally dropped me off at Abby’s cozy little house I was surprised to see the lights still on and Megan’s car in the driveway next to my Range Rover. I kissed Evie goodbye, waved to Boris, and headed for the door, feeling like Cinderella staggering home after the ball.

“What was that all about?” Cruz asked anxiously, jumping up to greet me at the door. Megan sat up with a worried look.

“Nothing,” I flopped down on the couch, unstrapping my shoes, “My feet are killing me.”

“What did Evie want?” Cruz persisted.

I paused for a moment, “She’s taking me to Paris for the collections.”

“Paris!” Cruz cried, stricken, “But that’s in two weeks!”

“Yeah, “I said, “And?”

“I can’t go!” he whined, plunking down next to Megan, “That’s the week I present my portfolio to design school. And you’ll miss my birthday too.”

“Sorry,” I replied, too wrung out to bother trying to soothe him.

“I thought you couldn’t leave Ethan,” Cruz said petulantly.

“She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” I replied. Unfortunately, it was the truth.

“We’re sorry about springing the restaurant on you guys,” Megan added, elbowing Cruz in the ribs, “He feels bad too.”

“Yeah,” Cruz said grudgingly, “But it’s really kind of Megan’s place now that she works there… I don’t see why Ethan should be all upset.”

“Just drop it,” I said wearily. I couldn’t take any more conflict.

Cruz couldn’t stop defending her, “I’m sure Evie didn’t mean anything by it,”

Megan started to mediate, “Surely, she must have known that it would be uncomfortable for them,” she said, tilting her head at Cruz.

“I don’t believe it for a minute,” he sniffed, “And stop calling me Shirley!”

I smiled tiredly and stood up to stretch, “I need to get some sleep, I’ll see you guys later.”

“Me too,” said Megan, rising to leave. “Oh, and Bill wanted me to tell you he wants some more paintings for the coffee shop.”

“OK,” I said, walking her to the door. “I’ll take care of it.”

I slumped down the hall to my room and changed, falling boneless and weak onto my bed. I looked around at all the paintings strewn about the tiny space, thinking about which ones I should take to Bill. They reminded me of the sea, and how wild and powerful I felt when I was immersed in it. Whatever happened to that side of me? I was feeling defeated, and realized that by giving into my fear I was letting Peter and his shadowy masters win.

Muse. Music. Museum. The words kept running through my mind along with their greater meaning. My natural tendency to be aloof was enhanced– I was more unwilling to be around people than ever before, watching everyone around me anxiously for signs that I was somehow affecting their behavior. Evie always said that information leaves a film, and now I knew what she meant by it. Knowing about my abilities became like a veil that colored everything I saw; I could never look at anybody the same way again, and it felt like a curse to me.

I thought about how Evie reveled in her power, actively seeking out worthy people to champion. She savored their success, and it satisfied her, for she had faith that it was the right thing to do. She was at peace with herself, and with the skills she wielded so deftly. Shamelessly using her formidable abilities to amass wealth, she’d married progressively richer men until she was insulated from the unpleasantness of the everyday world, and powerful enough to make dreams come true.