“What are you looking at?”
I snapped out of my daydream and forced my attention back to Drea. She seemed a little hurt at my inattention, like she was accusing me of not listening to her. I have to admit I did feel guilty; I wasn’t listening to her at all. All I could hear was the wild beating of my heart. Graduation day. Today, some of the muses I grew up with would leave this place and venture into the human world. I did not envy them.
“Who is graduating today?” I asked Drea.
“Some muses from Calliope’s cult, I think. Have you seen Marissa? I know she’s one of them, every tutor say she is a very promising muse. She will bring much honor to Calliope’s cult.”
I rolled my eyes, as if I cared about my cult’s honor. We had enough successful muses who came back from the human world boasting their victories. A prodigy pianist name Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was spoken of for centuries, and the muse of inspiration was much admired and regarded, even more than Beethoven’s muse, which had a jealous fit because well, she had to work with a disadvantage, the poor man ended up deaf! But anyway, that aside, muses aren’t all nice and decent, some are preposterous, loud, and obnoxious, and I had to put up with a few of them.
“Will you come, Kishto, to my graduation?” Drea asked in a small voice, the most fragile voice I’ve ever heard her speak with.
The question caught me off-guard and then reality slapped me on the face. Her sixteenth birthday was just four days from now, in four days Drea was going to be gone from my life. A knot formed in my throat.
“Of course I’ll come, I doubt they’re going to let me in but I will be watching you from the tallest tree I can climb.” I tried to muster as much enthusiasm as possible. Come to think about it, Drea is the only muse I like, and that translates into the only friend I have. Sadness overwhelmed me, despair engulfed me as realization hit me square on the face, once again. Five days after Drea’s gone, it is my turn to leave.
“We could run away,” I whispered.
Drea gasped, “stop it Kishto, we cannot run away! We won’t be separated for long. And who knows, maybe our protégés are going to know each other.”
Drea, always the positive one. I just nodded, not wanting to hurt her feelings. It was close to impossible that our future protégés would know each other. That was it, I would never see her again and, gosh, the truth does hurt.
“Kishto, this is a really bad idea. Someone might catch us and if they do we’re in a lot of trouble.” A young muse, thirteen probably, was urgently talking me out of the tree. But it was too late; I had climbed well over half of it.
“I thought you were going to say it was a bad idea because I might get hurt or something, geez, I’m flattered that my safety is your major concern.” I retorted, which I know it’s wrong because 1) the young muse is doing me a huge favor, and 2) we are going to get into loads of troubles if we get caught. I expected her to leave after what I said, but she just sighed exasperatedly and leaned against the tree, searching the surrounding areas for any presence.
I did a mental note to not pick on her so often.
I climbed a few feet more and then settled on a sturdy branch. I pushed some of the foliage away and squinted through the sun to the pompous event that was taking place under the canopy of the great tree, Ideón. There were eight muses in total. I could see Drea from this distance, she was radiant and beyond beautiful, with her blonde hair and flowing white tunic. I could barely hear anything from where I was, but I saw her knelt before Ideón, closed her eyes, bend down her head, and extended both arms to receive the fruit of her inspiration.
A golden fruit literally dropped from Ideón’s branches and into Drea’s outstretched palms. Drea lifted her head, said a few words to Ideón and kissed the fruit. I saw sudden understanding on Drea’s face, like she learned some new, exciting, and forbidden information that was lost long ago and now recovered. I could tell she felt renewed energy rush through her body; her skin seemed to glow maybe a little too bright. Then she was gone, just like that. There were several nods of agreement and approval from her tutors and pride from her fellow muses. I felt sick on the stomach and sudden vertigo. I climbed down as fast as possible before I could pass out high on the tree.
“So, what did you see?” the young muse eagerly asked.
“Nothing,” I replied and pushed past her, which was true because there was nothing in this world without Drea. She was the only one who understood my frustration. I just wanted to comfort myself in the confines of my room. The young muse gave me a reproachful look and I knew she made a mental note of never helping me again. It was okay, I was going to be gone in five days.
My head was yanked back painfully as Kalynth pushed a brush through my tangled hair, trying to get it decent looking. Her aide kept pinching me to stay still as she tried to fit the silky midnight-color dress to my skinny self. I snapped at her, telling her it was difficult to stay still when someone was tugging my hair and trying to behead me in the process. Kalynth threw me a menacing and reproving glance but nothing else. No smacking today on my important day.
Today, I turn sixteen.