Muse

“You can’t break up with me! You’re my muse!” Brad shouted in the middle of the coffee shop, very nearly making a scene.

“First of all, lower your voice,” Ginny said, trying to save herself from a little embarrassment. “Secondly, I’m your ‘muse?’ You haven’t written anything substantial in almost a year. And it’s been even longer since you sold anything you wrote.”

Brad huffed. “Why should I lower my voice? “You’re kind of breaking my heart hear!”

“Because if you don’t lower your voice, I’ll walk out. I thought we could do this with some dignity, but if you’re incapable, I’ll happily leave and you’ll never see me again”

“Fine,” he said, making it seem painful for him not to shout like a child not getting his way. “And how can you say I haven’t written anything substantial? What about that story I let you read last week?”

Ginny tried not to laugh, and she very nearly spit out her sip of coffee. “That story was written before you met me. You showed it to me during our third date. That story is kind of what made me fall for you in the first place. I thought it was sweet. I thought it showed that you had a lot of potential. Apparently I was wrong.”

“You weren’t wrong!” he shouted, then remembered her threat to walk away. “You weren’t wrong…” he changed his tone to a whisper. “I still have potential.”

“I’m sorry, Brad. You’re right. You do still have a lot of potential. But you’re wasting it.”

Brad rolled his eyes and threw his head back. He ran his hands through his hair but couldn’t find a snappy comeback. When he couldn’t speak, Ginny continued. “You can’t get a lot of writing done when you spend your days playing video games in your parents’ basement. You’re not working at anything. You’re not even pretending like you want to better yourself. And your parents really aren’t helping you either.”

“Don’t you dare bring them into this,” Brad said, his voice dangerously close to a shout.

“How can I not bring them into this? They’re enabling you. You can’t support yourself, so you rely on them to put a roof over your head and food on your plate. And I’m just as bad,” Ginny said, staring at her coffee cup and feeling guilty. “When we go out, I pay. I take you to dinner. I take you to the movies. I buy you new clothes that you never wear anyway. And why don’t you wear those clothes? ‘Cause you’re content sitting in a recliner wearing boxers and a Batman t-shirt you’ve had since high school.”

“I got that shirt in college,” Brad said under his breath.

“Not the point, Brad.”

He looked at her seriously and said, “What am I supposed to do without you in my life?”

“Move on,” she said, “I’m obviously not helping you to do that. Your life is stagnant. I’m ready to move forward and I deserve to be with someone who is willing to go forward with me. I want a husband. I want a family. And I know that’s something you’re not interested in giving me.” She almost stopped when she saw the look on Brad’s face. She thought he was very near tears. “It’s something you’re not capable of giving anyone right now.”

“You want to go? Fine. I won’t stop you,” Brad said, his anger beginning to replace his desperate sadness, “But you’re gonna regret this. Someday you’ll look back at this conversation and you’ll realize that this was where you made your biggest mistake. I will finish my novel and I will sell it, and you’ll wish you were still with me.”

Ginny stood up and put her coat on. As she wrapped her scarf around her neck she said, “I hope you do sell your novel. More than that, I hope you finish your novel. But I won’t regret this. No matter what happens in your life, I am responsible for my own happiness. Good bye, Brad.”

With that, Ginny walked away. Brad watched her as she opened the door to the coffee shop and walked out. He saw her turn her collar up against the wind as she kept moving forward. He waited for her to look back, but she never did. She was out of his life. He knew he would never see her again.

As he drove home, all he could think about was how badly he wanted to show her how successful he could be. He wanted nothing more than to sit down at his computer and write an entire novel that night. But he didn’t. He sat at his computer for a while, but the words wouldn’t come. He stared at a blank screen for over an hour before he gave up.

Brad turned on the TV and engrossed himself in the latest version of Call of Duty. That night, he only quit playing the game long enough to join his mother and father for dinner upstairs. He never gave his “muse” a second thought.

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