The Fate Of The Muse

By: Derrolyn Anderson


“He does,” he said grimly. “But we just found out that they can still take it from him. They just have to say it’s for the public good. If they prove it’ll be put to a better use they can force him to sell it to someone else.”

“But that’s crazy!” I exclaimed, “What better use?”

He looked angry, “There’s a developer that has plans for a seaside resort and golf course.” He snorted bitterly, “They call it ‘eminent domain’. Our congressman wants the tax dollars it’ll bring in.”

“Your land too?” I asked, horrified. It was everything he’d been working so hard for. It was his future– our future. I had seen his house…

“Everything,” he said with a sorrowful shake of his head, “Including the fields on either side of Lue’s.”

I stood rooted to the spot, stunned, as he turned to help a customer. Ethan’s land meant everything to him– it was his stake in the ground, something permanent in a world where the rug could be pulled out from under you at any minute. I thought about the injustice of it and started to feel a familiar flicker of anger welling up inside of me. I began pacing back and forth. When Ethan returned I looked at him with blazing eyes.

“They can’t do this!” I seethed, “We have to fight them!”

Ethan looked dejected, shaking his head mournfully, “Lue already talked to a lawyer. We can’t afford to fight the government and the developer… They got a lot of power, and even more money.”

“Evie has lots of lawyers– she can help us!” I suddenly had a newfound appreciation of Evie’s deep pockets, and the way her money could be used for a good cause.

Ethan looked at me reproachfully, “Even Evie can’t fix everything. This is the government we’re talking about,” he said glumly, setting his jaw stubbornly, “Besides, I don’t want to owe her anything. I won’t start out that way.”

“But–”

He came closer and inspected my face, “What did she have to say last night?”

I had forgotten about my problems for a minute, and I looked down. I didn’t want to burden him with any more troubles.

“Tell me,” he demanded, his voice tense.

“I have to meet with them in two weeks,” I said quietly.

“Where?” he asked. He knew exactly what I was talking about.

“Paris,” I looked up to meet his worried eyes, “We’re going to say Evie’s taking me for the fashion shows.”

He exhaled loudly, taking me in his arms again, “How long will you be gone?”

“A few days… She said a week at the most.”

“What’s gonna happen?” he asked, pressing his forehead to mine.

“Aunt Evie says they’ll only ask me some questions... We worked out what to say– It’ll be okay.”

When another customer arrived we broke apart reluctantly. I watched as Ethan patiently listened and gave a man advice about how to prune fruit trees. Both of our worlds had just been turned upside down, and yet, he was as constant and steady as ever. The unfairness of the situation was staggering, and I had the strangest sensation that it was somehow my fault.

I took a seat in the back of the booth and quietly observed Ethan as he worked, my heart swelling with love. I could see his gentleness and grace, his persistence, and the protective way he kept looking back to check on me.

“What?” he asked, when he glanced over to meet my gaze.

“Nevermind,” I said, getting up to give him a quick peck on the lips, “I’m going to go check on Lue.”

I walked around the back of the farm stands until I came across Lue Khang, sitting alone, staring pensively into his teacup.

“Hey Lue,” I said softly, announcing my presence.

He smiled weakly, “Hello water girl.”

“I can’t believe it,” I said sympathetically, biting my lip.

There was pain in his eyes when they met mine, “How can this happen?” he shook his head sadly, “This is America… People are free in America…”

I slipped into a seat next to him, “Exactly what did they tell you?”

“Congressman Hill won’t meet me, and a lawyer says there’s nothing to do.”

“We have to fight them,” I said defiantly.

He looked defeated, his hooded eyes clouded with sorrow, “My fighting days are over.”

“It’s not right,” I said indignantly, feeling my anger strengthen, rising up like the tide. “There has to be a way to stop them.”

“It is my fate,” he shrugged with resignation, suddenly looking as old and tired as a worn out shoe.

Now I was seething. Lue had given up everything for this country, fighting in the hills of Laos for American interests in a secret war that ended decades ago. He’d suffered unimaginable hardships to emigrate here, and to reunite his family. Despite everything he’d endured, I’d never seen Lue without a twinkle in his eye.

“It’s not possible– It can’t be,” I said vehemently, my voice harsh. I’d seen the future, and Ethan’s house standing on that piece of land. It was Ethan’s land. It was his destiny.