Thursday, July 12, 2012
Thursday Tales: The Muse
The picnic table perched above the shore of the lake. Anyone who looked out would be treated to a view of sunshine sparkling on the bluest of water, sailboats dotting the waves, and ducks enjoying an afternoon's swim. But, I took the other bench. I had another view in mind.
I set down my latte and pulled a slim notebook and my favorite pen from my bag before sitting with my back to the water. Opening the book, I began to write. Or at least I set the pen against the paper. But, like every Saturday, the words wouldn't come. Not until he came.
I could hear him walking up the path from the parking lot and I pretended to engross myself in my writing. I glanced up with practiced nonchalance when he passed by my table to return his smile and nod. Now, the words would come.
He arranged his easel up the hill some 50 paces from where I sat, pointed toward the lake behind me. Reaching into his satchel, he pulled out his pencils and began to sketch.
I'm not sure when he had become my muse, but he had fueled my writing for many weeks. He was tall with warm brown eyes and a smile that quirked his mouth up at the corners. The colors of Autumn were always what I thought of when I studied his hair, rich and full and always just short of needing a haircut. It was the kind that you wanted to touch just to see if it was really as soft as it looked. It sounds like I was in love with him, I know. But it wasn't that. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't sexual.
I didn't even know if he could draw well, really. I'd never seen his creations as we were always faced in opposite directions. Me, towards him. Him, toward the lake behind me. Every time I looked up, his eyes would be focused on the view over my shoulder, squinting and thinking. Sometimes I think he caught me studying him, but I would always quickly yank my eyes up to the heavens, as if I was just searching for the words I wanted before applying them to my page. I don't know if he knew I was watching him.
But, every Saturday afternoon, we came. And every Saturday, my story came a little bit closer to completion.
We worked in companionable silence until the sun's light began to fade. My coffee gone and knowing he would soon be leaving with no light left to work with, I slipped my notebook back into my bag. Smiling and waving, I made my back to my car. We never spoke.
Until next week, Romeo.
She packed her bag, grabbed her empty coffee, and returned to her car in the parking lot. I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. I was always afraid she'd discover my secret. Maybe she'd walk by in a direction she didn't normally take and then she'd know.
I paged through my most recent sketches before putting my things away. The one I had drawn of her hair blowing in the wind, the sun streaming behind her. The one where she had been furiously writing her thoughts, as if she couldn't get them down fast enough before they disintegrated into nothing. The one where she studied the sky, trying to find what she wanted to say.
Most artists came to draw and paint the lake. But, I came to draw her.
Maybe someday she would know. Maybe someday I would show her.