The grating squeal of long-unused hinges forced open against their desire slices through the thick air like the screech of harpies. I peer into the room beyond, blinking my eyes in an attempt to adjust them to the gloom within. Shafts of multi-colored, mote-filled light cut through the high-set stained glass and pierce the murk at random intervals. They land on a cluttered desk, a table strewn with books and scattered papers, an empty mug beside a plate of what might have, at one time, been something edible, but is now little more than a macabre landscape of fuzzy lumps.
I cock my head and listen.
There. The faintest of rustles from high above where wooden beams form an elaborate pattern, invisible in the clinging darkness.
I clear my throat, softly, for some reason nervous to disturb the desolate silence that has claimed my space.
“Monkeys?” The query, though whispered, sounds thunderous in my ears.
Another rustle of wings. The shuffle of claws across wood. Dust drifts downward in a gentle cascade, accompanied by a single feather. I sniff and fight back a sneeze.
“Ah.” The word sighs across the room from the inky shadows behind the desk and wraps about me. It carries arrogance and disdain that cover a deep hurt. Or perhaps I only imagine as much. “The prodigal returns.”
The voice is slow and sonorous. It conjures the feel of rich earth: cool, dark, fertile. My own sounds weak by contrast.
“I…um…” I clear my throat again. Try to find my courage. This is, after all, my place. My creation. And yet– “Look, I can explain.”
“No doubt.” And now it is dry as winter branches rubbing against one another in a frigid wind.
My muse is unamused, it would seem.
I step fully inside and push the door closed behind me. A thought will bring the fire alive, light the candles, pull back the drapes, and yet I hesitate. There is something comforting in the concealing darkness.
“Do you know how long?” the voice asks.
I sneak a glance upwards. I can feel the monkeys perched on their beams. Ever watchful. My trusty minions. They ache for things the way they were, and await the outcome of this meeting with trepidation. They, too, are hurt by my inattentiveness.
“A while.” It’s a lame answer.
Dry, scoffing laughter scatters across the room like fall leaves. “And how long is ‘a while’?”
I open my mouth to reply, but my muse overrides me.
“I will tell you. Almost two months, Artiste. So there is your definition of ‘a while’. Abandoned without word or thought for a while.”
“Untrue.” I’m finding my nerve now and it rings in my voice. “I’ve been…” ‘Busy’ sounds too phony. I’m always busy. Life is busy. There are schedules to keep, commitments, responsibilities, every day shit that hits the proverbial fan and splatters across the wall like some Pollock painting. I draw in a deep breath through my nostrils, and with the exhale comes my confession. “I lost my mojo.”
…to be continued.
© K. L. Schwengel 2015