Who is this Muse, a mystery, a mystery writer or you?
He was tall and gaunt; a bag of air tied in the middle with a shoe string, or was that a memo clip? He stared at me and me at him. My voice was frozen in his eyes. I could not utter a sound.
A long thin hand with gnarled knuckles reached out to me. "Muse," he said.
My mind questioned. My voice could not.
I nodded and still his grip would not release my voice. How could someone's eyes hold you speechless, his did?
"You want to know why I'm here. You summoned me. To put it bluntly you cursed me and implored 'how dare I leave you without warning—without story.' Think dear child~~Are you the only writer? Do you have exclusive rights to the muse?"
With that he brushed by me and floated about the room. No foot falls of noise, no noise at all. Apparition I tried to convince myself. I have not awakened. I dream still. That's all it is. He is not real. He is not here. I dream a fitful nightmarish dream.
He sits upon the counter now, legs dangling, playful-like. He's thumbing through the dictionary. "They're all here, and here," he pulled a banner with the alphabet on it from his pocket and unfurled it over his head. "At a loss for words? Pick one, or three." He tossed the heavy dictionary at me.
"Leave, scat, shoo." The words came easily without the dictionary's aide.
"No, read, at random. Three words. I'm serious, now!" he demanded.
"Button, dregs, prepare," I said running through the pages with my fingers.
"You know the rule of threes don't you?"
I shook my head. What did he want with me and rules, rules are for fools I once heard and I believed it.
"Everything, everything always in threes. There is no other way. Take your three words and begin. Just write. There must be beginning, middle and end—say three.
There must be characters, plot, scene,--say three.
There must be place, protagonist, antagonist, say three. He continued to bombard me with lists of three. "Haven't you heard even deaths come in threes?"
I shuddered as I scribbled on the tablet he had given me. As I wrote the ink dried and disappeared. A sinking feeling began in the pit of my stomach and hauled my heart down with it as fear began to paralyze even my breathing. A horrible dream, a nightmare, my thoughts were out of control.
I filled three pages quickly with no problem at all. But, the pages were blank now when I looked back.
"Remember, three pages a day. That's all you need to write. In a year, 365 days later, you will have written 1, 095 pages that could be three books. See how simple, how many pages do you have now?" he questioned.
I looked down at the blank note pad. None, your pen is no good. I tried to say but only the thought floated through the room.
He whipped the pages from my hands and held them over a lighted candle. I thought he was about to burn them, the words I had written suddenly became visible over the heat.
"Ingredients," he said. "Thoughts, words, and execution/action. Action, reaction, effect. Pick the words, slurry them around with the ink, heat them up. You've cooked up a story. One, two, three. It had nothing to do with me. You only thought you needed the muse, the muse was inside of you not out there."
He bounced across the room. The sound of him was a merry tinkling as if he were adorned with bells. As he opened the door he turned. "You are your own muse. Listen to yourself and remember the rule of threes."
"Wait!" My voice came back, surprising me. He vanished as though he never was. But, I, I found my voice again. "Thank you muse." I said and bells tinkled somewhere not far off.
Then I had to lie down with a wet cloth on my face, to contemplate the muse and dictionaries and alphabets and rules of three.