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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, Thoughts

By Varsha Panikar

A muse of tragedy - Part 1

“Maybe I am just another run of the mill sad indie girl,” she paused.

Everything was a blur of motion and sound. I kept my smile and the laugh I wanted to let out to myself. It was funny, but not the kind you should laugh at. It was that bleeding wound kind of humour that you laughed at out of embarrassment or to relieve tension. I was waiting for the sorrow. This was just a test. I would not waver. I would wait. I would listen.

She took the last two cigarettes from the pack and lit them for us. ‘The problem with everything is that…well, it’s everything. It’s life, it’s death, it’s joy, it’s sorrow. I went from inspiring a bunch of nobodies to pretty much controlling inspiration. From then on in, it was pretty much the standard crash and burn, too much, too soon scenario. But when it comes to muses there are no overdoes, or car crashes or murderous junkie boyfriend. There is just eternity and regret. No spectacular end for me”.

She stubbed out the cigarette, half-smoked. She looked at the empty packet of cigarettes. “Tragedy. I became the muse of tragedy. That was my punishment. Every sad faced clown, every overblown ‘everyone dies in the end’ play, every awful pop song about heartbreak. I’m the one behind all of that junk. That’s the real sorrow. That’s me.” Her eyes were flat as a deconstructed cardboard box. She turned away from me. ‘I bet you wish you’d left after the sex, don’t you?’

“Why would you say that? I like being here… with you.” I placed my hand on her shoulder. She shook it away. I did not try a second time. I could have continued, but I had either made my point or said the same thing she’d heard a million times before from a century or two of lovers. Her shoulders moved slightly. I could not read that movement, so I waited. I waited for ten minutes. She turned to face me. There was no smile, I didn’t want or expect one. The muse of tragedy would never smile. It was her eyes that mattered. They were alive and fresh as newly turned earth.

And upon that moment, undetected like a waft of flowers, unexpected like the softness of tranquility in that moment, unsuspected, she entered my heart un-surrendered - to clothe my soul in peace - whilst the world slowly comes to an end.

Excerpts from Bodies Of Desire, an anthology.

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