She wandered over, to where he sat trying to write poetry. He had his head in his hands, and was surrounded by his screwed-up, papery failures.

She took his ink-stained, callous hands in hers. "It's alright," she said soothingly. "You'll think of something."

He turned his face towards her, twisting in his seat. "It's impossible!" he cried wildly. "All the poems have already been written!" He rubbed his forehead wearily. "All the good ones, anyway."

She smiled at his hunched back. "Oh, come on. Surely there's one or two-"

"There isn't! It's pointless! Fruitless! Futile!" The frustrated genius sighed deeply. "I think I'll go home. I need a rest."

He heaved himself to his feet, gave her a distracted pat on the head and trudged out of the library.

"I'll drop by tomorrow with some inspiration," she called at his retreating back.

He snorted.


For the next few days she visited his house, bringing with her all sorts of strange objects. Daffodils, chickens, a little cockroach with a tiny typewriter, even a newborn baby. He just sighed, shook his head, and said, "That's all old hat, my dear."

She shrugged her shoulders and disappeared. The next morning, she brought unpleasant things, like a drowned kitten, a four-foot-long coffin, and a neo-nazi. He made a face, shook his head once more and said, "Your efforts are admirable, but no."

It has to be said, she worked incredibly hard to give him that creative spark, but it was all useless. Ribbons, small children, a ship called Destiny, several Hungarians, white rats, black mice, grey rice, orchids, and finally a cardboard loveheart, glittery and red like Vegas. But it was all in vain. The young poet was drained and sad, a shadow of his former literary self.

On the fifth day, they sat together in his small sitting room, thinking hard about what they could do.

"I know!" the muse (for that was indeed what she was) cried triumphantly. She delved into her ribcage and withdrew her heart. She began to eat ravenously, tearing huge chunks out of this most vital organ.

"How is it, friend?" the poet asked laughingly.

"It is bitter-bitter," the muse replied with her mouth full, screwing up her face with distaste. "But I like it, because it is bitter, and because it is my heart." She stopped. "Wait, that sounds familiar."

"It's been done," the poet replied. He closed his eyes as a sudden verse hit him. "Man hands misery onto man, it deepens like a coastal shelf-"

"Philip Larkin," she reminded him. "Try again."

It quickly dissolved into a game, where one quoted a famous poem, and the other declaimed its name and author. They ended up rolling around on the floor with laughter, spouting snippets from "Jabberwocky" and trying to keep their sides from spitting. Eventually, however, their mirth subsided. The poet and the muse crawled back onto the sofa, wiping happy tears from their eyes. They sat together in companionable silence, until she spoke again.

"You've been trying to write someone else's poem," she said softly, reaching over to caress his cheek. "You gotta write about something that only you know about, and know in its entirety. That's all any great poem is-a tribute to something you love."

"Phew! That sounds like a tall order," the poet sighed. "What would I know about?"

The muse swatted him, almost out of patience. "Think now! What have we spent the last week doing? What has been the all-consuming desire that has filled your soul these past two months?"

He stared at her, and in a single moment it hit him. He gasped and scrambled off of the sofa, already setting out verses and metres in his literary mind.

"Well?" the muse asked slyly.

The poet lunged over and kissed her, smack on the lips. "Thank you," he muttered, "oh, you wonderful woman-" And he had gone. The new poem was already spilling out of him. He needed to get it out of him before he burst.

She blinked a few times. Then, a small smile appeared on her face. It grew wider and wider, until she had to bury her face in a pillow to stop the giggles from escaping. She rocked and forth, shaking with mirth and love and laughter. Finally, she stopped.

"I've got a poem to write myself, now," she whispered. And vanished.