Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: Menopausal Muse
By Shelley Ledfors
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It can’t be. It simply can’t. Not possible. Nope.
But no matter how I tried to convince myself that I had not--once again--puttered away most of the morning with nothing to show for it, I had to admit that was, indeed, the case.
I trudged into the kitchen, my gaze flitting automatically to his chair at the table…the place I had last seen him. But it was empty, just as it had been for quite some time. How long had it been since he’d sat there, chair tilted back just so, enthralling me with his ideas for my projects? Days? Weeks?
I fixed a cup of tea, gave one last glance toward the table, sighed and pushed through the swinging door into the living room.
“Oh!” My hands jerked skyward. The teacup--and its contents--made a graceful arc toward the floor. “Who are you?”
Her answer was muted by the inevitable crash of porcelain.
“Why, your muse, of course. Were you expecting someone else?”
“No, no.” I stammered. “My muse is male and he‘s…” I stretched up to indicate a height well beyond hers. “And he has a…” I swept a hand across my upper lip. “He’s…he’s not you!”
“Oh, dear. No one told you. Tom was under a lot of stress. The supervisor ordered him to take a vacation. I’m his replacement.” She flashed a bright smile and cleaned up the teacup mess while I digested the news.
“Was it because of me?” Tears welled and quivered on my lower eyelids. “…Was I that bad?”
“Well, let’s just say that a woman of a certain age can be challenging for males--even male muses--to deal with.”
I trailed her in daze as she headed to the kitchen and gasped at what she did next.
“What are you doing?”
“You just put the dustpan in the refrigerator!”
“I did?” She looked. “Oh, my…I did. Well, that’s not the place for it, now, is it?”
I sank into a chair and studied her while she returned the dustpan to the closet and made us each some tea. She was not unpleasant, I guessed. I put her as roughly middle-aged--although such things can be difficult to gauge in muses. She was short, slightly plump, and while she wasn’t ugly or anything, she wasn’t anywhere close to her predecessor in attributes that would be attractive to the opposite sex. She reminded me of someone…
When she brought the tea to the table, I accepted the cup she offered and also--reluctantly--the realization that Tom wouldn’t be back any time soon. I sighed. “If we’re going to be working together I should know your name.”
“Okay, Minnie, do you have any ideas?”
“Writing ideas. You know, the sort of thing muses are supposed to help with?”
She hesitated. “Um…why don’t you tell me how things have been going, first?”
“Terrible! Tom’s been gone for ages and I’ve written almost nothing.” I paced the kitchen and vented the frustration I’d tried to contain, then paused as a new thought emerged. “Hey! If you‘re supposed to be his replacement, why did it take you so long to get here?”
“Oh, that.” She looked down and mumbled something I couldn’t quite make out.
“I started here as soon as Tom left, but I…forgot where I was going.” She bit her lip and looked up with a pleading puppy-dog expression.
“Oh, no. They couldn’t have.” But even as I said it, I knew it was true.
Minnie arched her eyebrows in question.
“Now I know who you reminded me of…you’re just like me! You’re as brain-fogged as I am. They’ve…they’ve sent me a menopausal muse! Grrr!”
She snapped right back. “Did it ever occur to you they sent me because I was the only one who might be able to put up with you?”
We glared at one another for the few minutes it took for our moods to swing to another emotion.
“I know,” Minnie said. “You could write about us!”
“Hey, that’s not bad. Really.” We both brightened and--between trips to absorb the chill of the refrigerator--worked through the afternoon.
Perhaps, one day, when all of this has passed, Tom might return with his abundant inspiration. I hope so. But until then, Minnie and I will muddle on through.
“You won’t forget to come by tomorrow, will you?” I asked her when she left for the day.
“Of course not!”
“And you’ll bring me some new ideas?”
“Ideas about what, dear?”
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