I read the invitation a few times to be sure I’ve read it right. Tapping it on the windowsill absently once I’ve finished, I stare out over the street. I still can’t believe that Clio is having a baby. That means I am an Auntie! Or Uncle, for now anyway. It all gets a bit complicated—Clio is my sister-muse, but Eros is technically my brother. So…uh…I suppose I’ll just stick with Uncle.
I also can’t believe that Eros is happily married. It is totally out of character. I mean, married is in character. If there was one god I had thought unlikely to change, it was him. A lot going on there, and I am curious to see how that is working out.
I am not being heartless. Being effectively immortal gives you a different perspective. Over thousands of years, everything ends. It’s not cruelty. It’s a simple fact. The world will always be full of memories. Mortals like to call them ghosts.
I also am not wondering whether or not to go to this shower. She is my sister-muse. Of course, I am going to go. I am wondering how to make this work.
It has been months since I’ve been back to Olympus. Technically, I hadn’t been there since the Incident—meaning I hadn’t been in person. Astral zoom didn’t really count. The drama from my last personal appearance has died down. There’s enough new drama in my family on a daily basis to make what happened last year old news, but I don’t want a repeat. There is a time and place for uncontrolled erotic expression and a baby shower isn’t it, though I suppose that depends on how many babies you want next year.
For what is hardly the first, and what I expect won’t be the last time, I wonder if it was the best idea to come to earth in a mortal body. Given that I am currently in the middle of a very populous city which happens to be in a more-or-less uncontrolled pandemic, there are downsides I hadn’t considered. Disease is something I’ve encountered before. But it’s a little more personal when you can, you know, die. I am still wondering what will happen when this body eventually does.
One of the things I did think about was change. I want some! Thousands of years spent coalescing from a concept to a muse, forever on the outside looking in. Smiling over Sappho’s shoulder, walking behind Lady Gossamer, watching the fall of Heloise’s tears, the pain of Plath. Bronte, Austen, Woolf—but for each, I was an observer. A muse, a ghost, guiding them in pouring their feelings on the page. I created nothing.
So, disembodied muse, forever outside the circle, I wonder now how much I felt as if I wanted it to be me. To create. For it to be my words, my experiences, my feelings.
Perhaps what I wanted was to be seen. To be read.
To be loved.
To be a real boy, perhaps.
For centuries, millennia, the changes in the world I saw were wrought by mortals. Busy, each building on what came before, and each passing, while the gods grew steadily quieter, turned in upon themselves. Perhaps that’s why I saw so much in these firefly lives, to join them, to be my own flash of light in the darkness.
Instead, here and now, I find myself overwhelmed. So many ghosts. So many memories. Now it seems like my vision of creation is so much arrogance. Or perhaps it truly is all a delusion, I am merely mortal, dreaming that I can be something more. Dreaming of creation.
I wish I could say that mortal and immortal foibles are greatly different from each other, but they are not. If anything, the immortals are simply…distilled. But that is not precisely how muses work, as I’ve said before. We exist to inspire, not to do.
I have been here now for almost a year and spent much of it in this small room. For no small time, afraid of the consequences if I lost control outside. More recently, though, I have become more confident in my own self-control. Perhaps it is worth the risk.
I didn’t come to earth to die of a virus, but I didn’t come to earth to sit in silence. There is a third path, and it means I have to go.
Once I get to Olympus, I’ll be safe enough. Gods didn’t get sick, unless you count what happens to Dionysus after too much of a good thing. Not being near any living things that can actually catch this virus will be perfectly adequate for social distancing purposes. And while I’m here, in this room, nothing really changes. Nothing can.
And that’s the crux, the reason I am staring at a grey street beneath a grey afternoon sky. Because for all my efforts and desire to change, I’m still just here observing. All I really did was narrow my perspective. And my family, the ones I believed couldn’t change, they are growing.
It’s time to go home. It’s time to see what they can teach me.
I suppose I should find something fancy to wear.