• Steph Shuff

The Muse

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

I like his thin lips, his wide smile; his quick and sharply delivered sense of humor, his darknesses. I like all the little crevices and shadows that he reveals to me in fragments and only when we're alone. I like his mischievous demeanor, the impishness he serves up to the masses to counterweight the parts of him that are soft underbelly and subversion - punk rock and black ink and pale blue eyes. I like the frail and fragile version of him that I hold in my mind, stark truths mixed with unfamiliarity and too much imagination. It is bordering on obsession, this feeling, an inevitability born out of dosing our encounters this way, two to three drips at a time - an IV bag dangled over a hospital bed that I want to squeeze. Moderation has never been a friend of mine and so when it is forced upon me through circumstance my mouth can't help but water. After all, obsessions grow fattest when starved. In my version of him, time has refined his edges, just as it has sharpened mine. Here, we find ourselves meeting somewhere in the middle. I am desperate to know his stories. Maybe they hold the key to writing my own, to telling them in a way that will instill in millions the _________ that he has aroused in me. I wonder if the feeling is mutual. I tell myself that it is, that it weaves through each encounter, beading out of every pore like sweat dripping down the edges of our conversations, like salt water spilling out of our mouths after swallowing up the sea. It is so much more than desire, or love. It is art, the miracle of an immaculate conception. You already know how I feel about artists. All I really want to do is change the world. I have been sober for months now but it has taken me two days to recover from the hangover of the hug we shared. He hugged me with his whole body, as though it was the first time and the last time it may ever happen that way again - salty, wet, half-clothed, two strangers embracing and then disentangling ourselves from a single-serving something. The world is full of lesser men who seek to conquer greater women, the type of man who wouldn't know a masterpiece if it was standing naked before him in a trophy case, on display like another thing to be hunted and preserved and hung on the wall to decay. very. very. slowly. He does so much more than feast upon masterpieces, doesn't he? He hugs with his whole body and sees with his eyes closed. He does not delight in the decay of beautiful things, he creates them, as if from nothing. And that is what I like most about him. That his mere existence invokes both longing and desire. Saudade. He is a reminder that I can make a masterpiece of my own. That I can birth a new world from the little crevices and shadows that I reveal to him in fragments and only when we're alone.

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