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He described himself as a “Professional Muse,” which caused me to laugh a bit. But he wasn’t smiling: “I give people guidance,” he said, “I’m going now to meet my first client of the new year.”

I didn’t want to ask more questions, because some things are better left a mystery.

Jesus christ.

Can this man please be a character.

no omg can he be a character holy shit

There was no contract, no one ever hired him, no fees were ever discussed. He simply arrived when needed and left when he wished.

The bag was empty.

Yet when he sauntered in (never knocking, never needing anyone to unlock the door and always knowing exactly how to navigate the house he’d just entered), setting his fedora on the coat-rack that was there regardless of whether there had been one before his entrance or not and straightening his fur lined coat with a flourish of his gloved hands THEY were suddenly there.

The words, the notes, the design, whatever it was his new client needed, like a glorious flood, and all they had to do was be fast enough to catch them as they crashed about their minds.

And it was then, and only then, as his client would rush around in euphoria, CREATING.

Only then did he smile.

It was soft and easily reached his eyes as he sat sipping the tea that had not been there a moment before, watching as they worked, chuckling lightly as they frantically scrabbled to find their favorite pen or the charger or paint brush.

Then – after minutes, or hours, or days, and whether his new client was finished or not – he would quietly stand.

Cross the room to his bag.

And snap it shut.

With one final nod he would place his hat back on his head (the coat-rack vanishing if it had not been there to begin with) and calmly saunter out just the way he had come.

I’m waiting by my door.

But what is the price?

The client staggered with the force of the gift. “I feel. Is this … inspiration? That seems too paltry a word for it. I’ve never felt so … how long will this last?”

The man smiled. “Forever, of course. The gift is in you now. I have sewn it into your soul. It cannot be excised. Your ideas will flow, uninhibited. You will live and breathe your craft, from this day hence.”

“But … but surely you cannot be giving this away,” cried the client. “What is the price? Surely there must be a price. Surely it must be terrible.”

The man smiled. “Oh, surely.” He clapped a palm on the client’s shoulder. “But rest easy. It has already been paid.”

“By whom?”

“That’s confidential. Don’t let it concern you. Go. Go to your studio. Your work awaits.”

The client felt a sliver of suspicion. “ Who would purchase such a gift? For me?It must be someone who knows me, but … everyone laughed when I said this is what I wanted to do. My father he … he wanted me to take over his business. He won’t be happy.”

“You have sisters, don’t you?”

“Well … yes. But they couldn’t possibly. They have their own lives now. Amelia moved to France and Catarina has … her own issues to deal with. Dad was really set on leaving the business to me. Tradition, you know. I’m the firstborn.”

The man’s lips curled in what should have been a smile but somehow wasn’t. There was something odd about the glint in his eye. Some thing menacing.

“An distinguished position, the firstborn,” the man said. His words seemed to echo.

Doubting his senses, the client shook his head, to clear it. When he glanced back over at the man, the strange smile was gone, replaced with the placid calm the man had carried with him upon first entering the room. “It was a pleasure doing business with you,” the man said, adjusting his fur lapel, “but I must be going.”

“Of course, of course,” the client said, walking him to the door. “Thank you. I can’t – I can’t thank you enough.”

The man gave a jaunty salute, and disappeared into the evening, the door closing behind him with a soft hiss. 

The client stared at the closed door for a long moment, then turned back into his home. The hallway leading to his studio looked different than he usually saw it, shadowed with the first shadows of dusk, drawing back like a gullet. The doorway to his workroom hung ajar and a sliver of light shone out from behind.

Funny. The client couldn’t remember turning on a light.

“My work is waiting,” he murmered to himself, making his way towards the door. “I’d better get started.”

The firstborn child he should have had, would have had is never born. Gone with no one to notice the difference. Except the Muse. He feeds well and so does the world. 

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