He hung in the darkness, suspended and limp.
For all he knew, the darkness went on forever into eternity. No air blew in the void. No sounds touched his ears, or scents his nose. It was as if the entire world had been wrapped in cotton, obscuring and cushioning him in a neutral state.
This, he thought, must be what purgatory feels like.
The slow, steady beat of his heart was silent, even though he felt the muscle throbbing in his chest. Even his mind had silenced itself, stifling all the questions that had run through him in the last few hours, days, months…years?
He shook his head just barely and opened his eyes. Or at least, his mind told him he had opened them. The oppressive darkness continued to shroud his gaze though, so who could be sure.
What he was experiencing was used as a torture device, to drive a person crazy. But rather, he just let himself hang there. When the time was right, he would be released into being once more.
Another breath, another lifetime passed in the silent darkness where he lingered.
A far way off, at what might be the place where land met sky, a tiny pinprick of light appeared. He could feel his pupils dilate as he stared at that pinprick. With each blink, the tiny speck of light grew and stretched and seemingly tore the black fabric of the void.
He felt the slight smile curl his mouth as the sound of his heart beating pulsed and throbbed hard in his ears. A slight rustle of wind touched his bare skin gently. Colors rushed into the void, breathing life into the blackness. Slowly, he crumpled through the space, falling down and down and down…
She sat quietly on the old leather sofa, a glass of Southern Comfort just past her fingertips and her laptop open on her lap. Just beyond the laptop screen, the television was a flickering mess of colors. She gulped at the rest of her drink, closed the laptop up, and got to her feet.
She had been attempting to work on her novel, but honestly she couldn't think of any words to place upon the blank word document. She ran her fingers through her hair as she tried to blink the cotton from her eyes.
At the front door, she stepped out into the frigid January night. She pulled out her cell phone and sent a few texts, her fingers swiping over the keyboard to form letters. In all honesty, the person she was texting was probably the reason she wasn't really getting any writing done.
About that time, she felt the air around her quiver and shudder before seemingly breaking. Her knees buckled, and she sat heavily on her front stoop. Her gaze shifted upward, taking in strong, olive-toned legs, the strip of white linen wound around angular hips, the chiseled chest, the thick neck, and the handsome face.
He cocked his head and bent down toward her.
"Why do you keep me in the dark, my love…" he asked her softly, his voice a deep rumble that she felt more than heard. He paused for a moment, his eyes searing at her soul as though searching for every single sin. "There is another," he bellowed, drawing himself up to his full height.
He towered over her by more than a foot, being at least 6'6". Her mouth gaped open and shut again in what would have been a comical way if she had not been in the current situation. One of his massive hands reached down and grasped hold of her upper arm, tugging her roughly to her feet, her body pressing against his.
She felt frighteningly fragile.
Up close, he was far more beautiful.
His hair fell in thick waves over his scalp, the colors of gold and silver, with a few curls falling roguishly over his brow. His eyes were a deep, glimmering green. His cheekbones were high and his jaw sharp, and his mouth was almost cruel. "I…I have no idea what you're talking about," she finally told him.
"Of course you do, my love." Her heart quivered harshly in her chest, and she pressed a hand against his bare chest and pushed. But his body felt like heated marble and wouldn't move. "I really don't," she said, trying to be more forceful in her tone.
"I am your Muse."
It struck her then, like a hammer to the temple. "I…my Muse is gone." His mouth became a tight, angry line. And even then, he was beautiful, rising above her again like some vengeful God. It felt as though her heart had plummeted into her stomach.
If all Muses were like this, so beautiful and moody, then no wonder creative people had such an issue with substance abuse. She was more than certain that if she was meeting her "Muse" sober, she would have had a heart attack.
She let her gaze run along his form again, taking in the sharp creases of muscle upon muscle. He reminded her of Roman statues. The muscles in his thighs bunched as he strode out into the moonlit yard. His skin glimmered and shone for a brief moment, as if illuminated from within and he turned to regard her once more.
"You let your thoughts run rampant of him. But what of me?" His mouth came dangerously close to pouting, and that expression drew her close. Her bare feet touched the icy ground, the stiff strands of grass scratching at the soles of her feet, but he was impossible to resist. "I just figured you had better things to do, I suppose," she said to him, reaching out to touch his bulging bicep.
He reached out to her again, his slightly rough palm cupping her chin. "I live for you, my love," he rumbled softly. Her heart felt as though it was freefalling through her body. Her eyes closed almost of their own accord, and she could feel him bending down closer to her. She could feel his warm breath on her cheeks, and found it smelled like honey and clover.
But then, in her mind she saw another's face. Her Muse's green eyes deepened and mellowed into a dark blue and regarded her quietly. That harsh mouth curled and curved into something infinitely more kissable as cool lips touched hers.
Suddenly, her Muse jerked backwards, glaring at her with brilliantly glowing eyes. "You thought of him. I could feel it." He let go of her so harshly she toppled backwards into the cold grass. The Muse rose up above her again, his large hands curling into tight fists. Her heart stopped beating for what felt like a painful eternity. "I am your Muse! You should live for me to contact you" he roared, the air around him shivering.
On frozen limbs, she scrambled backwards in the grass.
"I…I…" she stammered as she tried to crawl backwards.
The Muse dropped to his hands and knees before her, still towering over her like a massive dog. His strong teeth bared at her as he moved forward, following her retreat. "He is nothing. A mere man. I am an ideal. Your ideal!"
He poised above her, flattening her to the ground as he glowered down at her. If she could, she would melt into the frozen ground. Her heart ached as he stared at her, and for a moment she thought it would kill her. She wanted to placate him, reach out and try to gentle him with a touch, but she was afraid. To placate the Muse would be to give up him.
Tears straggled out of the corners of her eyes, and her throat tightened. She tried to blink away her tears, but it was hard. A quiver took up in her spine. Turning her head, she pressed her cheek to the cold ground and ignored him. She could feel his hot breath flaring hard against her skin. "You cannot ignore me. I am yours, and you are mine."
His fingers clamped down hard on her chin, turning her head forcefully to look at him. His eyes darkened to a shade beyond hunter green, his brow furrowing harshly. "Men lose interest. But we Muses, we stay. I am connected to you, as surely as by heartstrings. And you ignore me, when there used to be a time when you adored me."
She tried to pull back, her fingers coming up to curl around his wrist. The frozen ground was finally reaching up and numbing her, like burning caresses through her thin clothes. Every breath turned painful, like breathing in ground glass, and her heart beat felt sullen in her chest as if touched by ice. She closed her eyes tightly, unwilling to look up into those dark, stormy eyes. She had given up so much in life and couldn't bring herself to quite give up the thought of him.
On the porch, her phone rang. It was a bright sound, jarring the silence that had fallen over them. The crushing weight of his grasp on her jaw let up, little by little, until he finally let go. She waited a breathless moment, listening to her phone trill and lilt just a few feet away, before she opened her eyes. She looked around as she sat up, peering through the darkness for her Muse. But the moonlight just illuminated a dark and empty yard. Her phone had quieted down only to start up again, and if she listened closely she could hear it buzzing against the metal stand.
Getting to her feet, she found herself in desperate need of a stiff drink, but instead settled for sitting heavily on the stoop and looking at her phone. Superman was calling, and she wondered briefly if a possible hero could overtake a moody Muse. Smiling slightly to the phone's screen, she swiped her thumb toward accept.