The Muse

“How about...” the coyote woman begins, waving her cigarette in the air as she gestures. She does that a lot: both gesturing wildly, and beginning sentences with how about or what if. The cigarette is lit right now; it isn’t always. It smells of cloves, not tobacco. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her actually take a drag on it.

“A giantess swallowing a train?” It popped into my head earlier and it hasn’t quite left.

She focuses ruby-gold eyes on me, and I can’t help but squirm. Lanky and decidedly androgynous, she only manages five and a half feet high if she’s standing tiptoe on those wide digitigrade paws, but her full attention weighs more than a few giants I’m familiar with. Also, since she’s sitting on my desk, she’s looking down at me. I’m just eye-level with her trim belly. “And?”

“And I don’t know. I’s a cool image.”

She flicks an ear, the earring in it jangling, and sighs heavily. That’s something else she does a lot: not the ear-flicking or sighing, but sounding musical when she moves. Necklaces, earrings, bangles, bracelets. Her jewelry is always different when she drops by, just like her outfit. Today that’s nothing but the jewelry. This isn’t the first time she’s been nude; I’m not sure if it’s my thoughts influencing her, or vice-versa. She didn’t have the nipple ring last time, though. It’s not clear if that’s her doing or, somehow, mine, but it’s—distracting. She’s always attractive, but some visits she leans into that way more than others. “The world is full of cool images.”

“You’re my muse. You’re supposed to give me stories!”

“I’m supposed to inspire stories.” She takes an actual drag on the clove cigarette, which makes me prickle with unexpected foreboding. Sometimes her inspiration is subtle, but sometimes it’s...not. She sets the still mostly-unburned cigarette down on an ashtray that wasn’t there before. “How about...” She stays silent, eyes on me.

How about what? Is she waiting for me? “How about being inspiring?” The moment I say it, I realize how it sounds. “Uh, I mean...”

“No, I get what you mean.” She reaches for the cigarette again.

The world blurs and I’m on the cigarette, straddling the end she’s bringing to her lips. I can’t be even a half-inch high. Or, from my vantage point, the coyote lifting me up toward her muzzle is at least six hundred feet high. Mabe seven hundred.

“I’m sorry!” I shriek, voice tiny and shrill.

“Don’t be sorry. Be inspired.” She lifts the cigarette, and me, to her huge, wet, black lips, and closes her mouth around the tip—and me. The pressure is immense. When she pulls the cigarette away, I remain wetly stuck to her upper lip, heart racing wildly, my view a blur of the lower lip, her gums, and huge teeth.

“I’m inspired! I’m inspired!” I wail. It’s true, if terror is the mother of inspiration.

She laughs, and I feel a pit open in my stomach. She’s not done being inspiring. I wriggle frantically against the humiliating hold of the saliva, but I remain thoroughly stuck. As she starts to agonizingly slowly lick her lips, all I can do is watch, and hear, the massive, glistening tongue slide closer and closer.