I think I am dreaming, though I can’t be sure. I never know if things are real or if things are only happening inside of my head.
I am sitting in my bedroom, and everything looks normal, but it feels like a dream because my window is open. My window is never open in real life.
I forget everything, though, as soon as I see his face. Vincent. He is floating outside of my window—or he must be because my room is upstairs—but this doesn’t seem abnormal to me.
“Tonight, Tonight” starts playing by the Smashing Pumpkins.
The lyrics are prominent, even though I’m concentrating on his face—those gorgeous brown eyes that look a thousand years old, the way his forehead creases, the dimples on his cheeks…
For once, I feel that he’s not trying to run away from me, and I’m relieved. Even if this is a dream, he doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
“Who are you?” is all I think to ask.
“My name is Vincent,” he says.
“I know. Mariela told me. But…what are you? A ghost?”
“This is a dream. You’re in my head.”
“No, Sylvia. This is real.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know everything about you. You’ll be seventeen next month. You play drums and guitar. You’ve named your drums Charlie, and your guitar is named Ani. You like to document your life.
You’re currently on journal number eighteen, but you’ve only been numbering them since you were ten. You call this one Lily.
Your favorite albums are Sargent Pepper by The Beatles, In Rainbows by Radiohead, and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming by M83.
You’ve been spending most of your time alone until recently, playing music, writing in your journal. You pretend not to care. You pretend to enjoy your solitude, but secretly, you’re lonely.
You’ve been excited that Bianca, Cassie, Travis, and even Ryan have been talking to you lately…
“But you’re wary of them. You don’t know if you can trust them. And music—art in general—it’s the only thing you really trust. Your love for music is overwhelming, almost unbearable at times.
It makes you feel so much at once that you think you’re going to explode just from listening to a song. And you think no one else understands, but I do Sylvia. Believe me, I do.
“I’ve never seen anyone else who is in love with Art the way you are.
Your passion, your love, it’s almost like worship, the way you lie on your floor and listen to an album, the way you play the guitar so tenderly.
“And you want to write songs that make you feel the way Radiohead or The Beatles do. You’re very talented, but you haven’t found your own voice yet. You’ve never written an original song.
I could help you. I could show you a way.”
His voice is intoxicating, almost hypnotic. I have an illogical urge to agree to anything he says. I have goosebumps all over my body.
There’s no way this is a dream. It feels real.
“You’re a Muse, aren’t you?” I ask. Suddenly, this idea doesn’t seem so stupid. “Are you? Like in my Greek mythology class?”
He nods once.
“But how can that be real? I thought all the Muses were female. So, you’re a god?”
I feel weird about how many times I have kissed him in my dreams. Have I been kissing a god?
“Not exactly,” he explains. “I’m what you would call an Earthly Muse. I used to be human.
There were nine Original Muses in Ancient Greece,
of course—we call them the Nine—but then they created more Muses: humans who had a certain passion for the arts who were given the chance to become Muses when they died.
“Inspiration isn’t an abstract concept with us. We Inspire artists the way you eat food or breathe oxygen. We need to in order to continue existing.
Typically, humans can’t see us unless we want them to. I wasn’t going to show myself to you, but you saw me somehow.” He seems just as confused by this as I am.
“What are you talking about? Is this some kind of joke? The Original Muses? What are you going to tell me next? Zeus and Apollo are hanging out downstairs?” I feel delirious.
I’m almost laughing at the absurdity of it all.
“You brought it up.” He sounds so sure of himself.
The Smashing Pumpkins song is still playing. Where is it coming from? I look over at my computer, which isn’t even on. I inhale and exhale again.
I decide, for the moment, to go along with this story. It may not make that much sense, but it is, at least, an explanation.
“Are all of the flickering people Muses?” I ask. He looks puzzled again.
“Yes. That’s what I call them. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always seen them. They seem to flicker, like candles. They go in and out of focus.
I can’t always see them if I’m really emotional or focused on my own life, but I can most of the time. And they never talk to me. You flickered when I first saw you in chorus.
Once you started looking at me and I started looking at you, you stopped. You were clear.” It feels good to speak these words out loud.
“When do you see these ‘flickering people’ as you call them?” He leans in, genuinely curious.
“It’s usually at Smith’s Olde Bar when a band is playing or in theatres during a play or sometimes around my father when he’s playing music. And then I keep seeing Mariela with Travis.
She actually talked to me tonight at the show.”
“Yes. She’s his Muse.”
I want to believe everything he is saying. It feels like a relief. An explanation. I’m not crazy.
I nod, and I can feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“You’re crying,” he says. It’s not a question. His voice is sympathetic, and he looks at me like I’m an injured animal. I look at him, feeling helpless.
“I want to believe you because that means I’m not crazy…” I whisper. I stand up, finding myself unconsciously walking towards the window—to be closer to him.
“You’re not crazy. This is real.”
“How can it be real? This is a dream.”
“Just because you’re dreaming doesn’t make it any less real.”