Fondling Your Muse

August 13, 2008
“So, I went to Powell’s the other day,” I said to my best friend, Alexa. I was lying on my back, with the back of my neck rubbing against the rough multicolor carpet in my bedroom. The cordless phone was clutched tightly in my hand. My hand and the phone were both slippery with sweat from holding the phone for so long. I stared, dazedly, at my windows that were covered with random words and pictures. I always had a stock of window safe markers on hand, so that I don’t have to spend five whole minutes looking for a pen and a piece of paper when I had an idea for a story.

“Did you get anything?” Alexa asked, sounding rather bored. I could picture her lying on her stomach across her bed, and twirling the phone line in with her index finger in monotony.

“Yeah… I got this writing guide called Fondling Your Muse,” I told her. I rolled over onto my knees. I stood up and hopped over my open binder, papers that should have been in my binder, dirty clothes, several books, a water bottle, a soccer ball, a pile various writing utensils, a flashlight, a little green box, and a disassembled music stand just to go three steps to get to my bookshelf. I pulled a maroon book off of my shelf. It was titled Fondling Your Muse.

“What?” Alexa asked, incredulously.

“It’s called Fondling Your Muse,” I repeated. Alexa didn’t say anything for several seconds. I thumbed through the book, looking for something interesting to read aloud to her. But the silence on the other end of the line was getting suspiciously long…

“Lex?” I finally asked.

“Fondling?” Alexa inquired, dubiously.

“Uh-huh,” I answered. I was only half listening because I was skimming through the chapter in the book about what point of view you should write stories in. I was totally oblivious to the fact that the word ‘fondling’ could suggest something even mildly inappropriate.

“Alice.… Do you know what ‘fondling’ means?” Alexa asked. I didn’t. What was so bad about that word?

“Well… It sounds kinda like finding,” I said, dumbly. What else was I supposed to think? I had been shielded from words and concepts like that for my entire life. I didn’t even know what ‘sex’ was until the seventh grade.

“Alrighty, then,” Alexa said, awkwardly.

“Well, whatever… I’m bringing it to school tomorrow… There’s some really awesome writing exercises in here I want to show you,” I announced. While other girls our age were quibbling over whether the brand names that they wore were ‘in’ or not, we were worrying about plot holes in the stories we were writing and potential Mary-Sue characters.

“You do that,” Alexa said. Then our conversation drifted to a guy who we thought was kind of cute.


The next day, as promised, I brought Fondling Your Muse to school. I wanted to show Alexa the first chapter, which was a questionnaire that had questions that described over exaggeratedly obsessed authors.

But Fondling Your Muse didn’t have the same reaction that I thought it would. I pulled the little maroon book out from beneath my blue down coat and showed it to Alexa and the three or four other people who we hung out with at recess. The brusque wind grabbed the cover and opened it to the chapter titled ‘Fighting Procrastination.’ I quickly closed the book, to show everyone the cover of the book. After pushing her blue glasses further up onto her nose and running her hands through her pink buzz cut, Alexa sideways-glanced at the book, looked at me with a shocked grin, then looked at the book again and burst out laughing.

“Who is this muse, Alice? Is there something you wish to tell us?” Alexa teased, lightheartedly. I felt my stomach constrict and turn to ice. My cheeks burned red, despite the frigid weather. My finger nails dug into my palm. I clenched my teeth together to stop myself from yelling a stream of profanities at Alexa.

“It’s just a book… I found it… at Powell’s… I didn’t write it,” I tried to explain, but Alexa and everyone else kept insisting that I was having a sexual relationship with Muse. I didn’t get why they didn’t see the wonderfulness in that book. I didn’t expect anyone but Alexa to appreciate Fondling Your Muse. No one else took writing as seriously as Alexa and I did. But their bitter laughter still shot bullets into my soul. I had spent two full hours trying to find it at Powell’s, one of the biggest bookstores in the world. I had searched every single room, some of them I searched twice, until I FINALLY found the room with the writing guides. Then I spent an hour sipping a latte and thumbing through the book in the café. If you spend two hours searching for something as trivial as a book, then you’re bound to love it.

That day, I accidentally left Fondling Your Muse in a portable classroom. I never went to get it back.

Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

MOMO said...
Aug. 30, 2008 at 2:15 am
This was a great story!
Great detail!
blazerback11 said...
Aug. 29, 2008 at 5:09 pm
Site Feedback