Literature 8-7-2008

miniStories: “Muse Not Yet” by William Alexander

A tiny, wry tale about art, love, and longing by one of our winning miniStories authors, William Alexander


Muse Not Yet

         I want her to paint me. I am something she has not painted yet. The only thing I am is wishing that she would.
         I hold my breath each time she touches paint to canvas skin, and for that moment the skin might be mineĀ—until she makes a line and a stroke and an image of something else, always else and never me.
         I imagine her as frustrated as I am. I want to believe that every application of thick, greasy color to stretched cloth is a gesture in my direction, a reaching forward, a fingertip on my chest or the side of my face. She frowns a little, pressing her lips together, holding her brush upwards and not noticing when paint gets in her hair. She examines another finished piece; a still-life Memento mori of bird bones she found and boiled, which are not me; a map of somewhere that is not me; a series of abstractions which are not me; a painted reproduction of slides her grandparents took on their honeymoon, in some European marketplace, of many people who are none of them me.
         And I want to believe that she wants to touch her brush to my contours as much as I need her to, but she may not have even noticed that I am not yet one of her works.

About the author: William Alexander has published stories in Weird Tales, Zahir, Postscripts and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He works as the editorial assistant at Rain Taxi, teaches composition to college students, and lives in Minneapolis with spouse and cat.