The Fate Of The Muse

By: Derrolyn Anderson

PROLOGUE





The sun descended into the sea, and when the truck dropped him off at the familiar sign, his heart leapt. He was finally back. After months of rough travel, evading authorities and relying on the kindness of strangers, he had arrived at his ultimate destination. Night was rapidly falling, and he knew that he’d never find the house in the dark, so he cast about, looking for something to bed down on. He pulled a cardboard box out of a ditch, and searched out a hidden hollow in some brush that would do.

He was close to her now, he could feel it. All the weeks of travel, all of the pain and suffering would be worth it, just to see her face again. He clung to the memory of it, closing his eyes and remembering her sweet smile, the sound of her voice, and the scent of her soft skin. He recalled every little detail about her; the way she moved, the color of her hair, and the way her aqua eyes sparkled when they met his.

He realized he had done wrong, and he vowed that he would prove it to her. He knew what they had planned, and he swore that he would never let them have her again. When she saw him she’d realize that she loved him too– he just knew it– and soon they would be reunited. He was on a mission to find her or die trying; there was simply no other alternative.

They had tried to stop him at the border, but he was far too wily for them. His military training made it easy for him to suffer the depravations of hunger and sleeplessness; he was accustomed to the cold. When he finally made it to a port, his strong back and enormous muscles made it easy for him to find work aboard a cargo ship, and Canada’s largely unguarded borders were no challenge for his survival skills.

Hitching rides had been a little more difficult. His sheer size intimidated most drivers and more than one had pulled away at the last minute when they’d gotten a close-up look at his battle scarred face. But slowly, surely, the trains he jumped on and the trucks that stopped for him brought him closer and closer to his goal. Many friendly people had offered him food and drink along the journey, and when he managed to explain to them in halting English that he was on a quest for love, they had shown him surprising kindness.

He drew a deep breath through his flattened nose, savoring the fresh ocean air. He was so close he could taste it; he knew it wouldn’t be long now. He spread the cardboard on the damp ground and rummaged through his pack, pulling out a bottle of beer and a hunk of bread. He sat with his back to a tree, eating and imagining their reunion   with a sigh.

When it was fully dark he climbed into his bedroll, turning his collar up against the foggy night air, and rolling onto his side. He was certain that the powerful urge that gnawed at his soul was there for a reason, for surely the creator would never set him on such a path without a purpose. He settled into the most comfortable position possible, falling asleep contented in the knowledge that it was his destiny to see her again.

Now it was all up to fate.





CHAPTER ONE


PROM





“When we’re married, I’ll bring you breakfast in bed every morning.”

I laughed, “Really? Don’t you think that could get a little messy? I mean, what if I want to eat leftover Chinese or something? With chopsticks…”

I reached over for a nail file, pinning the phone between my ear and shoulder.

He kept talking, “We’ll get a couple of dogs that we can take to the beach every day.”

“Will they go surfing with us?” I asked teasingly.

“They’ll probably want to fetch sticks out of the water,” he replied, “Or footballs.”

“I think our poodles might be too small for that,” I said sternly.

“Not if they’re the big kind,” he laughed, “But I was thinking more, like, golden retrievers…”

It had become a kind of game with us, gently teasing each other about how things would be when we could finally be together. Ethan had been bringing up the future more and more, describing to me our potential lives in detail. Clearly, it was something he’d been thinking about a lot. I couldn’t tell if it was to reassure me, or simply to convince himself that we’d eventually get there.

I wasn’t so sure where we would end up a month ago, when I’d returned from a disastrous spring break vacation to discover yet more unimaginable facts about myself. Ever since I’d learned that my mother was a mermaid, my life kept getting stranger and stranger. I began to have random visions of the future, and found that I had inherited the power to inspire excellence in others. I was, in fact, kind of a reluctant muse.

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