Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Muse - Creating Suspense

Her breathing remained shallow.  I felt her pulse, and it was faint and erratic.  Yes, my office had none of the amenities of a modern day hospital, but it would share one feature that many hospitals had if I couldn't turn this around.

It would become a morgue.

I typed another word on my laptop, and she flickered again.  The words didn't mean much - they were little more than random characters on a page - but they caused a stir of life.  Or at least I thought they did.

"Come here," she rasped.  "You need to hear this."

I leaned in close but was met with nothing except silence.  Putting my ear to her lips, I strained for sound, yet there was nothing there.  She'd done this a few times since I found her - she would stir, act like she was ready to impart some knowledge, and then she'd fade.  I started to lean back...

...another rasp.

I leaned in again and finally heard a few words.  "It's not enough.  The dark is trying to get in."

Her words puzzled me.  Looking out of the window, I thought, Of course it's dark.  Always is at night.

As if on cue, dry leaves attacked the glass.  The sound was both flat and profound.  Did it seep inside, and was it choking out my muse?  Or was it all in my imagination?

"Yes," she mumbled in response to my thought.

My hands reached for the keyboard of their own accord.  They typed out a few random words in this latest sci-fi novel, but I retched in disgust before I could even look at the screen.  As I typed them, my muse exhaled like her spirit was trying to leave.  So I did the only thing I could think of when staring at such failure.

I hit the backspace.  Delete...delete...delete...



So focused was I on ridding the world of my drivel that I almost failed to notice that her eyes opened.  When I finally looked at her, it was hard to tell if her eyes were wide with wonder or terror.

"The dark!" she cried.

I wheeled my head around, but it was no more dark outside than it was just a few minutes before.  While trying to see if it was spreading even further across the window, a new sound made its way upstairs.

"Honey, the baby needs to be changed."

Out of habit as much as anything else, I got up and headed for the office door.  At that point, I saw my muse's hands fall limp to the floor.

"I have to," I pleaded.  "My family needs me."

As if it took all her effort, she choked out, "I understand."

My feet rooted themselves to the spot.  If I left, the muse's condition was likely to deteriorate.  If I didn't leave, my marriage's condition might follow.  Thinking quickly, I finally said, "I'll be right there.  Let me finish this paragraph."

The sigh, as much felt as heard, wafted its way upstairs.  "Okay, but hurry up."

With all the permission I needed, I sat back down and charged ahead.  My muse's eyelids fluttered, but that was all the activity I could see.  Would my energy be enough?  Or would she fade away forever?  And even if I could bring her back, could I devote enough energy to do so?

She flirted with the brink, and so did I.

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