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Muse in the Pipes

By Sandra Tayler

     "Well ma'am, you've got a terpsichore."  The man stepped back out of Kayla's shower.  He stooped to put the scanning device back into his kit, giving Kayla a full view of the Ghandrachar's Muses and Familiars logo on the back of his shirt.  The label on the front declared his name to be Scott.
     "A what?  I thought it was a muse."  Kayla peered at the shower wall as if she could see through it to the creature hiding inside.  This was absolutely the last time she'd buy something supernatural off of ebay.
     Scott began rummaging in the side pocket of his kit.  "A terpsichore is a kind of a muse.  Now when you called, you said you're a musician?"
     "That's right.  I play cello."  Kayla gestured to her instrument leaning on its stand in the corner.
     "Ah, then you should have an erato or an euterpe.  Terpsichore is a muse of dance.  No wonder she's been so unhappy."  Scott pulled out a clipboard and handed it to Kayla.  "Here is a standard removal contract.  It states that you agree to pay our fee and that once the muse has entered our trap it becomes the property of Gandrachar's. See you'll need to inital that part before you sign."
    Kayla snorted.  "You're welcome to it.  I just want the thing gone.  It has done nothing but cause me greif since it arrived two months ago.  I can not stand one more flooded shower or toilet.  The downstairs neighbors are threatening to have me evicted."  She signed the form with relish and handed it back.
     Scott slid the clipboard into his kit and then pulled out a mechanical flower the size of a large mixing bowl.  The petals were closed at first, but as Kayla watched he rotated a little crank that caused them to swirl outward as if the flower were blooming.  He set the device carefully in the bathroom doorway.
     "Now ma'am I'm going to need your help with this.  The terpsichore is obviously bonded to you, otherwise it would have left.  Only you can draw it out to the trap."
    Kayla nodded.  "What do you need me to do?"
    Kayla's jaw dropped.  "You must be joking."
    "No ma'am."  Scott walked across the small living space and shoved her table and chairs against the wall.  He gave the couch similar treatment.  Then he stood in the middle of the open space and reached out a hand to her.
    Kayla crossed her arms tightly.  "I don't dance."  She never did.  Not since high school when Lindsay Mason had made so clear to half the freshman class that Kayla could not dance.
    Scott studied her a moment, then retrieved an ipod and a small set of speakers from his kit.  He turned on a waltz.  "Ma'am only your dance can draw her out.  If you really want her gone, you must dance."
    Kayla sighed and glanced around her apartment.  The blinds were shut.  No one would see.  She stepped forward and took Scott's hand.  He held it out and placed his other on the small of her back.  Kayla set her other hand on Scott's shoulder.  
    "Very good ma'am.  Now with me.  One, two, three.  One, two, three." Scott began to move, gently nudging Kayla's feet with his when she stepped awry.  It was awkward at first, but soon Kayla began to feel the rhythm of the music.  She stepped more confidently. Scott used a gentle pressure against her back to pull her out of the single location she had been stomping in.  The turn quickened Kayla's breath and
she remembered a time long ago when she had watched a dance competition.
    Kayla had been 7 years old.  It was long before Lindsay Mason. She remembered being pressed in the crowd, but peeking through the forest of bodies she had seen glittering swirls of skirts and men in tuxedos drifting around the floor as if blown by the merest breeze.  Now, despite the cramped space, she felt as if she were one of those glittering women.  Scott twirled her again all the way out to the end of his arm and then back.  Kayla pictured herself wearing one of those long skirts that wrapped around her legs.  Seven year old Kayla had done the same and spent hours twirling around the house until the jeers of her older brother stilled her dancing feet.
    Kayla's feet were not still now.  They skipped across the floor lightly as the music swelled.  She smiled up at Scott's calm face.  He looked down and shadow of emotion crossed his.  Had that been pity before he schooled his features into blandness? Kayla did not care, she let go of his hands for a pirouette of her own.  
    Halfway through the third rotation there was a loud CLICK and Kayla stumbled.  She tripped over her own feet and her hip slammed into the couch on the way down.  Bruised and dizzy she staggered back to her feet.  
    "What happened?"  She asked.
    "Your bond to the muse's inspiration was severed when the trap closed.  She belongs to Gandrachar's now."  Scott walked over to the mechanical flower.  Its petals were
closed again, but a soft rosy glow flowed and shifted around the edges of the petals.  He picked it up gently and began to place it in his kit.
    "Wait!"  Kayla's hand reached toward the flower.  She'd forgotten that she once loved to dance.  She didn't want to lose it now.
    Scott picked up the kit and spoke softly as he walked toward the door.  "Ma'am I have to take her away now.  If you want her back, you'll have to come talk with a placement consultant at Gandrachar's."
    "Placement consultant?"  Kayla trailed Scott across the apartment.  He paused in the front doorway.
    "Yes ma'am.  With us you'll pay a little bit more to get a muse, but we guarantee a good fit."  Scott tipped his head a little as he considered her.  "A terpsichore might be right for you after all, but we'll need to wait a few days for the effects of the inspiration to wear off before you can truly know what you want."  Scott gave her a nod and shut the door behind him.
    Kayla turned back to her apartment.  The empty space in the center beckoned her and she gave a little twirl.  But her feet did not fly.  It was not the same.  
    Kayla's eyes fell on her cello.  She walked to where it sat in the corner.  Her fingers caressed its beloved curves.  What would it be like if the muse was music instead of dance?  Kayla smiled.  She would be going to Gandrachar's in a couple of days.

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All content © 2007 Sandra Tayler