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My Muse
by Dave Gregory

I’ve liked her since high school. Anita. On days when my classes were boring, I’d sit and pretend we were lovers, imagining sexy things she would say to me.

In real life, she never said anything like that. Not to me. The closest we came to speaking was early in grade nine when I said hello to her in the hallway. She looked at me. Grading me. Then walked away with her nose up. Apparently, I’d failed.

She must have known I was attracted to her; thirty-seven times she caught me staring from across the classroom. Once, when she caught me, her icy glare pierced through me as she mouthed the words: What the fuck?!

Nothing ever came of my attraction.

Well, that’s not exactly true. After graduation, I was unemployed for a long stretch of time. Two years. I spent my days practicing guitar, dreaming I’d write a hit song and become famous.

That part never happened but I did write a song about Anita. A love song – very tender and mellow. A strikingly good piece of work, I thought, almost as beautiful as the person who inspired it. Then I got an idea.

I recorded the song on my laptop – a video of me singing and playing the guitar. After several tries, I had one version just right, exactly how I meant it to sound. Then I put the video on a jump drive. I had to mail it because she’d blocked me on social media.

Her reply was unexpected. An envelope arrived two weeks later, empty except for her grad photo. Wallet-sized. On the back she scribbled: ‘Have fun jacking-off!’

So I wrote six more songs about her and had one published as a poem in The Atlantic. Half a million copies, they told me. That’s as close to fame as I ever got.

After receiving an advance copy of the magazine, I sent it to Anita. I marked the page, where my poem was printed, using a post-it note. On it, I wrote: ‘Thanks, it worked perfectly.’