Part 19

Muse wandered.

She had nowhere to go, no destination in mind, nothing awaiting her at the end of her travels.  So she just traveled.

She slept in her car, spent money on gas and food but nothing else.  She could last on money earned from the music store for a while, this way.  To make a little more, she stood on street corners in cities and sang, making music on odd items for lack of actual instruments. This impressed people and they readily gave out money when they heard her make beautiful music with shoelaces and dixie cups.

She never stayed in one place for very long.

In the other world, she walked through Dream’s house, exploring the endless maze of rooms, of dreams.  They were always changing, but some things remained.  The girl who burped frogs sometimes followed her from room to room, giving her nasty looks.

She read the girl’s book, “Twelve Dancing Frog Princesses,” and liked it.  There were watercolor drawings of frogs in tutus, but if you held the book at an angle, you could see the flies in their bellies and in the background, the ghosts of little girls crying for their stolen dresses.

She’d told Dream what she’d done, and that maybe Love would come looking for her.

“What should I tell him, if he does?” Dream asked, offering no opinion on Muse’s actions.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, should I tell him that you’re here?  You seem to be hiding.”

“I’m not hiding.  I’m willing to be found.”

Dream nodded.  “Should I send him into the house, to search through dreams for you?  Or should I make it easy on him and call for you to come out?”

“Oh, don’t make it easy,” Muse said quickly, before she could give it too much thought.

All Dream did was nod again.

“I don’t think it likely he’ll come at all.  He has probably decided to be happy with Beauty and leave me to lose my own game.”  She said it sadly.  Dream raised an eyebrow.

“And if that happens?  Do you give up?”

“This is a test,” Muse objected.  “If he fails the test, why should I reward him?”

“You just seem so sure that he will fail.  And you refer to it as your own loss.”

“I was imagining things through his eyes.”

Dream smiled, “I don’t think you give Love enough credit.  I doubt he gives up, or admits defeat, that easily.”

“Well then we’ll see.”

“I’m certain we will.”

And yet, for all that certainty, long days in both worlds passed, without hint of Love.

Muse drove and drove in her old car, putting miles and miles between herself and Love, leaving only a trail of faulty emissions and rumors of a woman who could make music out of anything, anything at all.

And she walked through Dream’s house, the house of dreams, searching for something without knowing what it was.

The rooms she walked through changed, leading on to strange and different places, but there was one room that she found herself stumbling upon time and again.  Every time she opened a door and saw it, she shut that door and chose a new one.  This room worried her, as if a place could stalk or sit in wait, lurking behind doors.

It was a graveyard, under a cloudy sky, the air ripe with the threat of rain.  But it was a warm rain, a heavy summer rain, and the graveyard was choked in an overabundance of summer green.  Something stopped her from walking into that room that led to out-of-doors, every time.

She was Immortal, she told herself.  She did not want to tread over mortal graves, mortal bones buried deep, decaying, disintegrating.  No place for the ageless to tread.

Yet still it loomed before her, continually, as if it would not leave until she walked between the graves, over the bodies, over the green.  Not until she relented, would she be free of finding that place, over and over again.

Even suspecting this, she refused to enter.  As long as there was a door to a different place, she took that door instead.

Still Love did not come.

It was not a big world.  And Dream was her sister, it was such an obvious place for her to stay.  To hide, deep in the forest, deep in the rooms.  Had he come to Dream’s house?  She wondered.  Was he, even now, traversing the maze of doors to find her?  She didn’t go back, she didn’t seek out Dream to ask, Has Love been looking?

And there it was, again, the graveyard.  Wanting her to come inside.  The clouds waited, pregnant with their rain, waiting for her to step across.  Perhaps they would release their water, give birth to showers on her head, if only she would relent.  If only.

She lay down to sleep and woke in her car, day after day, no closer to a destination she did not have.  She did not think she had one, anyway.

Finally, one day her car stopped working.  It coughed and gasped its way to a halt, belching out smoke, and Muse knew she had run the old thing into the ground.  Cars, like humans, were mortal.

She sighed, pulling over to the ditch, and got out, eying the smoke curling around the hood.  She had her few earthly possessions in that car, and she wondered if she should drag them out onto the ground in case the car engine should burst into fire.

Then she decided she didn’t care.  What were books and rubbishy clothes?  Let them die with the old car, if that’s the way it was going to be.

Muse turned around, taking in her surroundings, looking to see where she was stranded. She found herself looking over a graveyard, covered in the lush green grass and leafy trees of a well watered summer.

In fact, the sky looked like it might rain at any moment.

So this was her destination, after all.

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