Once there was a writer who told sad tales, as full of painful salt as is the ever-brimming sodium sea.
(Granted, the sodium sea was one of the Creator’s worst ideas, as all the fish died, and though humans swimming in it were extremely buoyant, they were perpetually irritating their eyes, plus they were constantly bumping into dead salmon; the salmon could hardly live more than a few minutes in the cool briny hell-broth, but when has a bad idea ever stopped a salmon? For that matter, when has a bad idea ever stopped the Creator?)
And that, in fact, was the author’s secret. No-one could stop him from typing his worst ideas into temporary realities. In fact, sometimes people, out of perversity or poor taste or a simple mismatch between their universe and that of the writer, absolutely loved the writer’s works, and they lived on and on and on, despite having no artistic right to do so.
(For that was another of the writer’s great secrets: the work did not need any artistic right to exist. It might have benefitted from a little artistic justification; but who was to judge? Not the writer; he wisely left that to other people, preferably people whose taste was much, much worse than his own; not that his own taste was much of anything to write home about. Let me put it this way: you’d probably rather read one of his stories than eat one of his dead, oversalted salmon, but both would be considered acts of masochism, and masochism of the least-sexy kind imaginable.
But I digress.
But then again, why would it matter?
For I am that writer, and here is my tale, and if it goes nowhere really, gets nowhere near the secret heart of my muse
(don’t touch the heart of my muse; it may no longer belong to me, but it’s still a delicate thing, to be gifted only as she chooses, not bandied about like some sort of sorcerous artifact which serves to bestow ideas upon the under-endowed) –
if the story never really tells you what it means by the salt and the sea and the sad and the long-lost heart, at least this story knows those things are there and, in missing them, the story, the tale itself, is sad. Sad like its writer; sad like its salmon-haunted, foaming, fatal sea.
There it is: another story which sprang forth from the half-remembered beating of my muse’s heart, a heart I will never hear again. Be glad there might be a moment or two of laughter, a wry smile, a little joke at the creator’s expense; that’s all the memory of that sweet and long-gone organ which pumped blood through her veins. Without her, I have no blood; only salt. But it’s been enough to sustain me for one more night, one more short story, one more remembered beat of a love which is taking far, far too long to forget.
Goodnight, my wood-nymph, my tree-daughter, wherever you are.