Muse, Elena Romanova

I wonder what it’s like to be human.

It is my first day on the job. I am a little worried, but I don’t look like I am nervous. My mentor leads me through long tunnels to the center to get a work visa. 

“And do not forget, while you are on probation, you’ll only have one mentee, but then…,” the mentor raises his eyebrows significantly and is silent.

It is hard to describe what he looks like. Like all of us. I look like a man, although I have rarely seen real people, only when mom or dad took me to work with them. It is a real miracle, this work. And now it is time for me to do magic.

The mentor moves very quickly, throwing short comments on the move.

“Here scientific inspirers,” he nods on the opened door on the left, “here sports, there military,” the instructor informs me, without turning back, and continues the way. Suddenly he stops abruptly, “and here is our creative brotherhood.” I look into the largest office in the building, where soon I will  work.

The office is almost empty, because the real work is not here, but on the ground. And only when the wards fall asleep, thousands of muses flock here to share the news and prepare reports.

After successfully obtaining a visa, the mentor explains to me the rules I already know and gives valuable guidance.

“No rush! Don’t rush to the first person you see. There are few muses, so we choose the most promising wards. Don’t get attached! Often people give up their talents themselves, so we have to leave them.”

I nod my head in time with his instructions, and I imagine my first ward. He will be the best and most talented person on earth. Together we will make a huge breakthrough. And all the muses in the creative department will look up to me. 

Finally, I am released to Earth, and I find myself in a huge city. The trees tremble in the wind, huddled in the wet foliage, and puddles reflect one-eyed lights and shop windows, winking lights to passers-by.

How many of them! People! They endlessly replace each other, moving past me. Someone goes skipping, with an unseen look buried in the distance, someone barely dragged, bent under the weight of his thoughts, and someone walks steadily, curiously studying the signs.

I decided to eavesdrop on their thoughts. I have to choose  a ward somehow.

“You can take the report to the bar, or  buy wine and order pizza, the whole sink is littered with dirty dishes.” A young woman in a gray coat, hunched, immersed in her thoughts. And suddenly a moment comes to life, as if an important decision has just been made. “To the bar!”

I am trying to listen to the others.

“New phone, of course, pink and those awesome shoes from the new collection. Ah! And perfume! For our anniversary. Let him fork out.” The girl smiles contentedly at her reflection in the tinted window of the boutique, and confidently knocks her winklepicker boots. She picks up her phone and dials.

“Mom will kill me!” The boy shuffles his boots through the puddles, scaring away the fallen leaves. “Well, I don’t understand these stupid fractions!” He shrugs his shoulders, adjusting the open backpack. “No! Well, it’s not my fault the teacher’s picking on me!”

“The whole entrance is fucked up. Bloody morons. In our time there was not such a shame.” Retired people mince through a busy street to the grocery store, holding in their hand a folded empty bag. “You know, courses at ninety-nine rubles,” she reads the announcement on the door, “two, or something to take, in reserve.”

Young black strong physique springy on the pavement in bright green sneakers, the strap of her sports bag slung over her shoulder. “Next time I’ll do five approaches and increase the pressure.” She gets out of the jacket a huge smartphone that barely fits in her palm and opens the app. “Yes! Almost thirty thousand steps,” she pauses for a second. “I’ll break my record, I’ll walk.” With these thoughts she abruptly leaves the street and turns into the alley between the houses.

I run up to one or the other in confusion, hoping to recognize my ward. But everyone is so immersed in their own problems that there is simply no room for me.

And then I notice a pale glow. It comes from a boy who looks about fifteen. In one hand he holds a folder with some sheets. And the fingers of the other hand are barely noticeable, but quite quickly knock a tap on his jacket pocket.

But there are no words in his mind. Quite. There…music. I approach him and immediately stop in disappointment.

Behind the young man floats a Muse, in love looking at her ward. She looks at me and smiles briefly, and then puts her hand on the musician’s shoulder. He significantly transforms and runs off, obviously somewhere in a hurry.

At the end of the street stretched a stop. I decided, by all means, to find my ward. Now I do not listen to monotonous thoughts, I look for a magical light in the eyes.

But at that moment I feel something different, totally inappropriate and amazingly pleasant.

At first, it’s like a breath of July breeze, but then it gets stronger, and when the bus pulls up to the stop, it turns into heat.

I do not hesitate to dive into the half-empty bus, looking for the source of heat.

In the right row near the window sits a girl in a funny hat with a pompom. From her are incredible rays. I slowly walk up to her.

“The transformed trees were discussing the latest fashion trend.” The girl pressed her forehead to the cold glass, examining the scenery outside the window. “Too sugary. Maybe, maple invited a family of chatty Tits.”

If I had a heart, it would jump out of my chest right now. I sit quietly next to the girl in the empty seat, afraid to frighten my luck.

The girl shakes her head and immediately raises her eyes to the sky, pulling off her hat.

I, warming with incredible energy, carefully lay  a hand on her light hair. I’m immediately engulfed in a hot wave, and I almost go blind from an unexpected flash of light.

My ward opens her bag and, rummaging in it, pulls out a battered notebook and pencil. After scrolling through a few pages of scribbled notes, she finds a blank sheet and writes on it the first line: 

“I wonder what it’s like to be human.”


Elena Romanova is a young author from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. In addition to a published e-book, Elena has been selected for Russian literary competitions such as Creativpodiya. 

Her work in Russian can be found at iknigi.net and on Creativpodiya here & here.