My Muse

Emery had heard all the rumors, but she needed to see it in person. The entire city was abuzz with a new painting by their very own Becker Davis. He had gone from a nobody to a local celebrity to an internationally acclamied artist.

Emery paused when she approached the museum’s front steps. She covered her head with a stocking cap, pulled the hood of her jacket up, and slid her sunglasses over her face.

Her friends had been teasing her, saying that the painting looked exactly like her. Emery knew that was impossible, but the voice of reason in her mind seemed to argue with her, “If it’s so impossible why do you need to see it for yourself?”

Emery had forced herself to wait until the last day the painting would be on display, so that she could avoid the largest of the crowds. She walked into a side section of the museum and followed the signs to Becker’s collection. When she arrived at the gallery, only one painting reamined. She knew that all of Becker’s paintings were being loaded up to be shown on tour, and his newest work would join them as soon as the museum closed.

Only an old man and young woman stood near the painting as Emery joined them.

The old man was dressed in work clothes and seemed to be a janitor for the museum. He greeted Emery as she joined them. “Just a reminder that the museum closes in ten minutes.”

Emery nodded and said, “Yes, thank you. Really I just came to admire the painting.”

The other woman nodded enthusiastically, “Becker really outdid himself this time. He calls it his muse, and I can see why. I could look at her allllll day. Aye! Look at the time I must be off!”

The enthusiastic youth bounded off in a flurry, and the old man moved to mop the other side of the gallery. Then nothing stood in between Emery and the infamous painting. Emery’s mouth dropped in shock, and she slowly removed her sunglasses to see the the portrait more clearly.

It was beyond a doubt a picture of her. Why?She couldn’t fathom. Becker and her hadn’t spoken in years. Nostalgia filled Emery’s aching chest of their common shared childhood. They hadn’t been close friends, but they weren’t strangers either. She remembered playing the same games and on occasion walking to school with him. His family moved in the middle of his teenage years to a nicer part of town where his art started to take off.

Everyone spoke of Becker as a legendary figure who oozed artistic talent, but Emery would always just smile at that. The Becker she remembered was scared of frogs and avoided eye contact at all costs.

The woman in the painting had warm chestnut brown eyes which were flicked to the side. The mouth turned upward in a smile that held any number of secrets. The portrait nailed Emery’s fiery red hair that framed her face, but what really impressed Emery was the freckles.

She had always hated the splash of freckles she had been cursed to wear upon her face, but Emery looked upon them in awe now. All of her freckles were painted accurately and not randomly at all. Every. Single. One. Was in its correct place.

If there was still any doubt that this woman wasn’t Emery, it was displaced when she observed the background. Glowing embers lit the painting with intensity. Emery remembered that Becker had called her “Ember” on occasion, but the nickname had never caught on with anyone else.

Before Emery turned to leave, she looked at the square plague the painting hung by. She read and reread what it said until the old janitor told her it was time to go. The plague read as follows:

My muse. We were only together for a short time, but I loved you. Not in a werid way, but more in the way I love life and the love that comes just from existence. The simple kind that I believe is more powerful than the others. I saw you when you thought I didn’t. I noticed everything. My soul seemed to know yours. Even now, my soul remembers what yours felt like. Our paths crossed once, perhaps they will one day meet again and greet each other like old friends. Your life is uniquely beautiful and never forget that, my muse.

Emery left the museum feeling like the painting had been the creation of two souls finding solace in life’s turmoil. A moment captured in eternity.

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