It was April who came to collect the novel from me. She curled up on the couch and read, twisting her deep red hair into complicated knots. “This is your best yet,” she said quietly when she’d finished. She tapped the pages into a semblance of order. “You’ve had that in you all along, huh?”
I smiled. “I guess so. It’s strange - it didn’t even feel like me writing. It almost felt-” I paused. “This is going to sound all new age and weird.”
“No, go ahead.”
“It felt like… like something was burning a channel through me. It wasn’t like making things up. It was like being connected to something, and letting it use me.”
She nodded slowly. “That sounds about right.”
She waved vaguely - at a print of Peter’s last series, and a painting on the opposite wall. “When gift turns to genius. It’s what Peter said. And Douglas. And… well, the rest of them.”
I sat beside her and squeezed her hand. “You do a wonderful thing here, you know that? Bringing people together. Agenting our stuff. I would never have gotten starting writing again if not for-”
“Her.” She squeezed my hand back and stood. “I know she’s your muse.”
She walked away before I could argue the point. Which was just as well, since she was mostly right. I had been consumed by my affair with Liana, and it was the fuel that kindled this novel. It showed in every page.
I could deal with my body being tired, but not my mind. I felt myself slowing down - a little at first, then more. It was the slowness of my mind that led me to confront the rest of it.
The doctor found nothing. No explanation for the fatigue that was increasing every day, becoming crippling. No explanation for the difficulty breathing, or the pain that suffused my body, haunted me. No explanation for the weakness and the slowness of thought. No answers. It seemed like my life was a flurry of doctor’s appointments and various tests, and I had no time for writing, so I stopped going. I was so close to something in my writing, some essential truth. I knew I could get there, if I just had time.
Liana was working on a new mannequin. She sang to herself from behind the shoji screen, and her music and movements found their way into my new story. I was writing about her, or for her.
She asked me to bring her a handful of broken glass; the glass lacerated my cupped hands, and I handed her glass tinted with blood. She met my eyes as I poured the glass into her waiting hand, and she smiled, she kissed me...This kind of love leaves scars.