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Writers find muses in many forms. Today, I found Veterans to be a source of inspiration. After all, it is November 11, Veteran’s Day.
The Hub and I have not partaken of what he calls the “Veteran’s Day Scam.” In the US, businesses offer free coffee, free appetizers and free meals. USA Today writes that “Veterans can cash in.”
I disagree with this outlook and see it for it’s intent: to honor our military who have served or are serving. Being short on cash, cashing in on free meals came in handy. But what I didn’t expect was that a muse of sorts would meander through the veterans at the restaurants we visited.
These veterans, including the Hub, started telling stories. It reminded me how important stories are to understanding what we have experienced in life and sharing it with others. May these muses move you to continue the story-telling process.
Muse by Irene Waters
“The advance terms stipulated ‘complete by the 20th October.’ That was two days ago.”
“I know but I just can’t find the inspiration.”
“You have to write. Call on your muse why don’t you.”
“Mnemesone, Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Meopomene, Erato, Calliope, Urania and Polhymnia have never visited me. I don’t expect them to start now. I need some more time.”
“Another week. That’s all.”
Polly sat and pondered but no words came. A coffee and the newspaper afforded a small reprieve. The headlines jumped out at her ‘ Camel milk expert says government ban pathetic.”
Coffee forgotten. The words flowed.
The Beat of a Butterfly’s Wing by Geoff Le Pard
Peter the dog dropped the ball at Mary’s feet. Mary smiled. “It was your predecessor that started this, you know.”
The dog wagged his tail. When would she throw it?
“Him dying, dad’s heart. That kick started all this.”
One silly mistake, not leaving the car window open, had unleashed chaos.
Mary hurled the ball as far as she could. She knew it would come back to her. The ball was hers to control now. Only she could bring order. While Peter searched in the grass she pulled out the copy email. Her birth certificate. The hunt was on.
Amuser to a Muse by Lisa Reiter
Impatient with her morning rituals
He calls, encourages, impatient to begin
Finally she lifts the steaming vessel; “Come on then!”
Glancing over his shoulder, checking she will keep up, he runs
Pushing impatiently at the door to see if it is open
Rushing to their station, delighting in her caress
Twining his limbs with hers and whispering adorations in her ear
Gently licking her fingers as they begin their work
She hugs him tight then yells at him to take his place!
From amuser to a muse
Feline scion of Mnemosyne and Zeus
Sith lord, both mouser and mousa
Visitation by Paula Moyer
I was 15.
In my dream, I walked onto Life’s Path. I received a bag. “These are your burdens,” someone said. “You carry them throughout Life.” Its weight on my back bent me over.
Then I saw the girl standing beside me. She looked vaguely like me. She was my Guide, she said.
“This bag is heavy,” I complained.
“These are your burdens,” she answered. “I can’t take them away. Lift your arms forward. Raise the burden on the person before you. When you share her load, it will lighten your own.”
I woke up. I knew my calling.
A Dream! by Ruchira Khanna
Laura was stirring the soup while humming her favorite song, Choices by George Jones.
“I’ve had choices since the day that I was born
There were voices that told me right from wrong
If I had listened, no I wouldn’t be here today
Living and dying with the choices I’ve made.”
Just then she got a call, and that made her jump, twirl and weep all at the same time.
Hung up, wiped her tears, grounded herself and texted her better half, “Finally! Dreams do come true! My publication will soon be seen on celluloid worldwide”.
Submissive Submissions by Rachel E. Bledsoe
Last week her muses were Deborah, Samantha, and Edith. The names forever change in the address lines. Each time they give her hope. Each piece she carefully crafts to their whims. Too many hours are lost worried about the emails she will receive back. Will they bear the news she craves?
She is losing herself in this vocabulary world. She is panting with warm breaths carefully crafted stories.
And yet she forgets; they’re not just stories. These words are her life. They are her childhood. They are her teenage youth. They are hers. They are bought for a price.
Failure by Norah Colvin
She spluttered out the splinters of pencil: no longer tasty, never helpful. The assessor’s steely eyes pounced. She wiped the last vestiges from her mouth; staring blankly, as blank as the paper in front of her.
Outside the sunlight danced like fairies on the leaves, beckoning. Below, in the shade, the unicorn pranced and called her name.
“Why do I have to do this stuff? Who cares anyway!”
She grasped the broken pencil and scored a large “F” on the page.
Then she closed her eyes and was away, riding to freedom and joy on the unicorn’s back.
Festering Thoughts by Amber Prince
The tile was cold against my cheek as I lay down on the floor. I could have put down a towel first so that my face wasn’t touching the nastiness that lies on a bathroom floor. Today, I didn’t care. Let the dirt and piss splatter mix with my tears. What did it matter?
My insides felt like they were burning – every nerve ending, sinewy muscle, hair follicle- felt alive with an angry searing pain that couldn’t be calmed down. My throat blazed with unheard screams that couldn’t escape.
It wasn’t fair. Why? Why did she give up?
The Muse by Anne Goodwin
At first, I laughed at what he claimed to see, in me, a girl like any other. Why flee my playmates in the park to stand just so for hours? I did not care if dukes and lords might hang my likeness in their galleries.
I hungered for his ardent gaze, his all-encompassing concentration. What lover would regard me so intently? What mirror reflect such light? I did not tire to stand just so while he found my essence in his canvas.
So when he chose another muse I thought I’d drown, Ophelia-like, singing in a stream of flowers.
Peter Grew a New Heart by Love Happy Notes
Peter Cheater, web-slinger of dishonesty
suffered from kindness poverty
He lied, stole, cajoled oodles, kits, caboodles
from humans, to butterflies to labradoodles
Penelope had the world on a string
Thunderstruck, Peter’s ‘petered out’ heart began singing
Penelope received more by giving
without expectation or misgivings
Shamed by ill-gotten gains
Peter harangued a self-blame campaign
“Begin with self-forgiveness,
redemption, compassion. Be fearless!”
Bemused by his new muse’s request
Peter returned hijacked bling from his nest
Of name-calling, he’s deserving
but was unprepared for the joy of serving
Peter discovered the treasure of giving.
His hollow brick heart brimmed with living!
Muse Refused by Larry LaForge
“Damn. It’s stuck on 72 degrees.”
**Sir, I know you can’t hear me but please wait. I admit to being a desktop weather station of questionable quality. And yes, I’m permanently on the fritz. But there’s a reason I’m stuck on 72 and SUNNY.
“Say hello to the trash can, you piece of crap.”
**Please. Just hold on sir. You need me, even in my current state – ESPECIALLY in my current state.
“What else will go wrong today?”
**That’s what I’m talking about. It’s your negative attitude, sir. My permanent sunny disposition can help sooth and inspire you.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Merlin Learns the Truth by Tally Pendragon
“… To me, only two characters in the play of these events are blessed with anything approaching sense …” After this oration I stop for breath, or perhaps just for peace. Elbows on knees, hands outstretched, as if in supplication to my almost full Moon Mother, I lift my face to her and receive her cool Wisdom as a breath of her Spirit. She shows me the way, she always does, yet it’s cloudy and needs to take shape a while. I’m not conscious of having stopped speaking, not really. Not until he speaks, my old friend.
“And who are they?”
Quest of Two Winds by Charli Mills
Two Winds hiked to the peak his Grandfathers called Beehive. Gray rock rippled, shaped like an upturned hive, rising above the tallest of the tall pines. His steps required the aid of his hands and he scuttled like a baby bear to reach the top. No man could walk upright to the Beehive. If he were arrogant enough to try, he’d tumble to a dishonorable death below. Two Winds must reach the top to tie his offering on the old wapiti tine and wait until inspiration answered him. It took many turns of the sun to write a wife-poem.
Sick Muse by Georgia Bell
Each morning she vowed that it was the last time. Swearing to herself and whatever deity she decided might be listening that day, she created elaborate rules and rituals to keep thoughts of him away. To keep the memories of his hands and his eyes and his warm, rich voice out of her head, away from her heart. And each night, her chest heavy with defeat, she succumbed. Picking up the pen, she hunched over her notebook, fingers smeared blue with ink and face smeared wet with tears. It was the only damn way she knew to fall asleep.
Go Ask Alice by Sarah Brentyn
When Alice was three, her teddy bear told her how to shape play-doh into intricate fairy houses with working windows and doors.
When Alice was seven, her Barbie doll showed her blueprints for an underwater city and she won a sand castle competition with her “Mermaid’s Mansion” sculpture.
When Alice was fifteen, her parents brought her to doctors who tried to stop Alice hearing voices and hallucinating.
When Alice entered the psychiatric ward, her doctors said it would be temporary. It was. After Alice died, they found her paintings—now in a gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It strikes me at work, rippling through my brain. Heeding the call, I make an excuse to leave. It’s ridiculous, being alone to write about people. But I can’t slow the words, the furious pace. They’ve arrived, like anxious guests. Now I have to get it down.
Brushing along. Please don’t talk to me. Why yes, the game was incredible. Uh huh, love that show. Now please, move. Let me go.
The pen is dead. I pound it on the page, gashing, hoping for it to come to life. I try another. It writes…I write.
But now, no words.
The Muse of Music
Music inspires writers. Sometimes, it’s deep at the soul level and other times it’s about technique like pacing. Music can set a tone, express a setting or color the shade of a character.
This week, writers have included the music that pairs with their writing like a fine red wine with an aged cheese. From Foo Fighters to Chopin, sit back, turn on the volume and read what the muse of music wrought.
Muse: In the Hall of the Mountain King (Peer Gynt) by Edvard Grieg
Flash Fiction by Irene Waters
The town woke as normal. The early workers slowly dribbled onto the streets, joined by more as the morning aged. By rush hour the numbers had built to ant-like proportions.
They didn’t hear an explosion. Caught by surprise they stared in alarm at the volcano the town sat in the shadow of as a plume of gas raced towards them from above whilst a river of red-hot lava snaked its way in their direction.
The crowds panicked and bolted in terror. They heard the next eruption, followed by several more. They dropped where once they stood.
Muse: Mark Knopfler – Wild theme (Local Hero)
Dust by Geoff Le Pard
Rupert, her half-brother, sounded desperate. ‘Please Mary. Come with me.’
‘Yes I know.’ Damn him, she thought; even after death her father controlled her.
Later as Rupert fiddled with the hire car, she thought of her dad. Just the same. Efficient but a bit of a prat. Her eyes stung; she swallowed. She wouldn’t give either of them the satisfaction.
They walked miles, in the shadow of the Cuillins. ‘Here.’ Rupert took out the urn. ‘You first.’
She scattered ash and heard music. Rupert’s ipod. Wild Theme. Dad’s favourite. Tears coursed her cheeks. She no longer cared who saw.
Muse: Saloon Music
Oh My Darling by Pete
We sat on the steps, giggling as bridesmaids arrived, clutching phones and bags. One stopped, smiling at Amelia. “Isn’t she cute?”
Amelia scoffed, seized by the mob of blondes. I got back to work as guests arrived. A red-faced man played saloon music on the piano in the foyer.
I strolled along the grounds of my dad’s farm house, peddling slimy appetizers when Amelia stepped out on the porch and smiled. The glasses were gone and her hair was up. I spilled my tray and the music jilted to a stop.
In an hour she would be my stepsister.
Muse: Anand (Bliss) by Snatum Kaur
Flight by Robin L. Flanigan
Terra presses the wet cloth to her skin, the color of spoiled milk, and closes her eyes, thinking about what it would be like to leave, to sweep herself off the porch and up the hill toward the clouds. Her mother did it. Her grandmother didn’t and look where that got her. She carefully doubles the washcloth and drapes it over the edge of the tub. She couldn’t care less if he will miss her. She can picture only the weightlessness, the smooth waves of her limbs as she dances through the hemlocks on her way to the next.
Muse: S.Prokofiev. Suite from The Love for Three Oranges. 03. March
Flash Fiction #1 by Anne Goodwin
She thought she’d found her soulmate: a handsome man who shared her passion for surfing, sushi and Shakespeare. In and out of bed, he made her feel whole. When he brandished the concert tickets, she prepared herself for a treat.
The music was by some Russian guy. Thump thump thump and plinketty plonk. As soon as she caught the rhythm it would flip to something else. The thrum of a headache in her temples, she turned his way. Yet, instead of the anticipated shrug of apology, he appeared enraptured, his expression the one he usually wore straight after sex.
Muse: Foo Fighters – These Days
Last Train Home by Sherri Matthews
Settling in for the train journey, Jamie plugged in, metal guitar riffs screaming. An hour in, he turned and saw her.
Dark eyes met his, frozen in disbelief. Turning to her new man, she giggled as they sat down in the seats in front of Jamie.
“That’s Jamie sitting behind us!” They swapped tongues.
Jamie exploded out of his seat, leaping off at the next stop. He caught a glimpse of her staring blankly out of the train window, chewing her nails, looking ugly. Jamie turned away and kept walking. He smiled then. Poor bastard, it’ll be him next.
Muse: Loreena McKennitt – The Lady of Shalott
Flash Fiction by Tally Pendragon
At the first terrifying scream, Vanda ran. The image of the flaming phoenix was still bright in her eyes. She ran through tunnels that had not felt the touch of any foot for centuries. Behind her madness was unleashing more jealous screams, its rage obliterating all sense. She felt Them as they handed her along, the cool breeze of their faith rushing her to freedom. As she crashed into an unyielding door some power beyond her bade it give. Behind her it closed and once again stuck fast.
“Thank you, sweet brethren,” she breathed, and sucked in the sunlight.
Muse: In Paradisum – Requiem – Faure
Flash Fiction #2 by Anne Goodwin
The pain dissolved in an instant, his agonised frown flipping to a smile. His smile grew wider as gentle hands attached helium balloons to his wrists, his waist, his ankles and his shoulders and he felt himself lifted up, up and up, until he was floating just below the ceiling, looking down in triumph on the narrow hospital bed. Angelic voices sang of how they’d make him whole again, or help him shed his battered body and live among the clouds. And he believed them, oh how much he believed them, until the morphine stopped coursing through his veins.
Muse: Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky – Romeo & Juliet Love Theme
Meet-Up by Paula Moyer
1980 – Jean and Sarah plotted the meet-up before they left the US: Innsbruck, Austria, at 4 a.m., October 4. No cell phones, no Internet. Just a train table and hope. Jean coming from Florence, Sarah from elsewhere-in-Europe, sending a confirmatory telegram to Florence’s American Express.
Jean got the telegram, boarded the train. Looking at the Alps through the window, she felt transported. She couldn’t sleep.
Then the Innsbruck signs. 4 a.m. She donned her backpack; stepped off.
The strains of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture filled her head before she saw her: Sarah, in slow motion, running. Reunion. Success.
Muse: Moby – 18
See Emily Play by Sarah Brentyn
Emily’s hand touched sheer, silky curtains as warm breezes blew in from the forest. She giggled, running along the hallway, bare feet landing with soft thuds on the plush carpet. Her brown eyes lit up as she watched the squirrels scurry up trees.
“She’s no better,” Emily’s mother studied her little girl. “I want her back. Please. Bring her back to me.”
The doctor glanced at the tiles, “I’m not sure she wants to come back.”
They looked over at the girl in the hospital gown.
Emily’s hand twitched. She grimaced, staring with dead eyes at the playful squirrels.
Muse: Frédéric Chopin – Prelude in E-Minor (op.28 no. 4)
Circus Act by Amber Prince
Her family sat there in silence. The only sounds emitted were the muffled sobs and quiet shuffling of feet behind them as her friends and family (and a few strangers) found seats.
This hadn’t been what she wanted. She had clearly stated that this was to be a celebration, a joyful event; with music, cocktails, dancing. But not this. No, this was a depressing circus act and she was the main attraction. By God, she was made up like a damn clown.
She would kill her husband. Well… at least haunt him for all eternity.
Her funeral was dreadful.
Muse: Epic western music – The Lone Wanderer by Antti Martikainen
McCandless Rides by Charli Mills
Hooves pounded in the distance, hollow like ancient kettle drums. Sarah heard Cob riding his leggy blood red bay with main as black as his owner’s thick hair. Only Cob rode so recklessly down the mountain. No one was about the store this time of evening. She was only there to tally the books. Sarah set her ink quill aside, shuffled the accounting notes for her father’s business and smoothed her long hair that was artfully coiled at the back of her head. Hers was lighter than his; ‘chestnut’ he called it, when he had stroked her uncoiled locks.
Muse: Johannes Brahms – Lullaby
Lullaby Lecture by Larry LaForge
Blink. I have to blink. I can’t be caught napping in class again.
What was I thinking? Quality Assurance at 8 AM. Who cares about cause-effect analysis at this hour?
C’mon prof. Can we get a little voice inflection please? I’m dying here.
Thirty minutes left. Not gonna make it.
I know the prof is watching me. The sudden jolt when I caught myself nodding off gave me away.
LaLa Land here I come.
Oh no. He’s looking my way again.
“Significant cause and effect, Mr. Jones?”
I didn’t answer. It was better to be asleep than openly disrespectful.
The 100-word version of this story is posted at larrylaforge100words on Flash Fiction Magazine.
Muse: The Most Beautiful Waltz Music
Final Act by Norah Colvin
A collective gasp interrupted the music mid-beat.
All eyes turned synchronously, as if worked by unseen strings, towards the French doors, burst open and revealing a silhouetted figure framed by billowing gossamer-like curtains.
Out of the darkness the figure emerged: clothed in black with coat tails flapping, a top hat in one hand and a white-tipped cane held aloft in the other.
The conductor revived the orchestra as the figure glided across the floor, seized the heroine decisively and whirled her around and around.
The spell now broken, the cast joined in the dance to tumultuous applause.
New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications. All writers welcome!