So I’ve been off writing a book, and finding my way back to my muse.

by Michael Fink

So here’s a little taste of where I’ve been, it’s been a journey through the brightest days and darkest nights, and she finally gave me the ending.

His fingers rummaged for loose change in his pocket, drew it up past a crumpled receipt from when he’d paid his tab. Her face echoed across his thoughts, these days, she was all that dared trespass among them. He fumbled through a quietly shelved collection of memories, a shoe box of art and lyrics that he kept in the back of his head. There was her song, waiting, as she had for so long. A slight stumble as he made his way to the jukebox, the bartender was the only one who noticed. A dollar in, and moments later, the music spilled out over the bar. He racked up a set on the pool table, and twisted a kiss of chalk onto the cue. “This one’s for you, love, I’ll be there soon.” They broke with a satisfying crash, an explosion of color across green felt dulled by ash. Each step carefully measured, each shot aligned with the pockets, who diligently awaited the sacrifice. And when he missed, he’d play her part. He’d seen her shoot enough that he knew just where she’d leave her mark.

A thousand miles away, she dug through the same memories. A day spent in paint and reverie. A night soaked in liquor and blissful ignorance of reality. The song on the radio stitched together a serenade, one of being alone and wondering when he’d come home, followed by a chorus of he’s never really gone. As her crystalline fingers ran across lines spilt in ink, and her thoughts transcribed the words that had been blurred so long, she gazed longingly at the door. Calculated the seconds between that dark place and the heavens he promised. “How many footsteps between now and then?” The only thing that answered these days was silence, but she didn’t need to hear his voice to know where his heart lived. She found the words he’d written last, a poem that dove through flowered fields and dusted roads before finally settling in on the last verse, “I’ll be back.” A lover’s promise, one that refused to age through the years that had since passed.

We dream of days that may never come to pass. We hold onto weights in the hopes that we might forget the distance between now and then. Someday, my love, the light will have no choice but to come shining in. The night will back out of its trenches, raise a white flag to the sun cresting the horizon. Someday, my love, there will be more than an old picture for you to caress, more than a handful of notes and a well-worn pool stick to remind him what he has. And when that day comes, there will be no shadows left, save those that we cast. He will trade the fire on his tongue for the one you lit in his chest. You will betray those well-kept words, just to feel his breath on your neck. Someday, my love, I will be back.

He sets the cue back in the rack as the song fades out to some slow country tune. There’s a hardness to the lights here, an unforgiving brightness that betrays the sins of even the purest of men, though he’s never been in danger of resembling that. He throws an old jacket over his shoulder and steps outside for a cigarette. Watching cars and stars, the way they did when they were still young and foolish. His eyes scanned the lot while he took a slow drag. And he said to the whole world, “I’m coming home, my love.” And the whole world held its breath, and watched him take that first step.