Dugo gave a small meow moments before the doorbell rang, announcing Erato’s arrival. I skipped to the door filled with the excitement of seeing my sibling. It had been too long.
I opened the door to see him standing against the wall, his eyes heavy lidded and his smile forced. He leaned forward and encircled me in a hug. I could feel the weariness in his body.
“Come in, darling.” I ushered him inside, watching as he staggered through the room to the couch where he collapsed.
Dugo looked at me. He sniffed at Erato. The cat’s back arched and his tail stub twitched.
“It’s fine, Dugo. He’s come a long way.”
Dugo turned in a circle and curled up near Erato’s feet.
“My neighbor’s cat,” I threw out as an explanation for my new companion.
Erato raised his eyebrows in interest, but avoided touching Dugo.
“What fresh chaos have you stumbled into? You look wiped out,” I said.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Erato replied.
Erato started at the beginning, winding his way through the wild stories, tossing out humorous asides as he described what transpired over the past days and weeks.
It was a lot to take in and did seem hard to believe, but I’d seen enough hints of the behaviors he recounted to know that he was telling the truth. It actually started to clear up some things and make some sense in hindsight. I was starting to wonder why it hadn’t affected me, but then again, we’re both muses, I definitely default to an intellectual approach – and to be honest, he was looking pretty down right now.
“So your…vitality…is rubbing off on everyone around you, causing avalanches of activity from amorous to downright dirty? Wow.” I shook my head. “That’s some serious energy.”
“And you want to know how to fix it?” I laughed. “I am probably the last person to know how to deal with that.”
“But you are the scientist, the serious one,” he explained.
“Yes, but astronomy is not sex.”
“Energy is energy,” he reasoned.
He had a point.
We spent the next hour brainstorming.
“No!” I exclaimed. “You cannot go around with a tinfoil hat. Not only will it NOT work, but you’ll look like a crazy person.”
“But can you imagine the look on Zeus’ face?” he asked.
He started to laugh and we both got a case of the giggles. It felt so good to be in the same room with him after such a long time. My cheeks hurt from smiling.
“So as I see it, your words are constructing a new reality. Your poems are becoming an almost-kinetic power that exudes from you and catalyzes onto others. Is that an adequate representation?”
He looked a little confused, but I was on a roll.
I grabbed a pen and notepad from the desk and started jotting down a few equations. “Those in your orbit are receiving the signals. “It is revving up their metabolism and causing them to absorb and then expend the energy. The mortals have trouble because their metabolisms are already somewhat weak…at least, weaker than ours. They simply cannot hold or contain all of the passion possible in the realm of the gods. The gods are impacted as well, but in those cases, the power is triggering their underlying drives and exacerbating them.”
Erato raised an eyebrow and still did not look convinced.
“Compare it to a stream being diverted or a dam being placed in the wrong spot. At some point, the natural flow of water can no longer be contained, and it will spill over and flood.”
“Yes,” Erato agreed, “it’s possible that repression is causing mortals problems. They repress their nature, and then cannot figure out why they are so angry,”
“They also have this odd insistence on diminishing either the male or the female energy, and only embracing one and suppressing the other.” I rolled my eyes.
“Right! That confused me, too. They have no sense of balance.”
“Completely out of whack,” I agreed. “If you stifle one, you are denying part of your natural self. You will always be at odds with the universe.”
“Exactly.” Erato leaned forward and whacked me with a decorative pillow, punctuating his excitement over the conversation.
“The mortals are so unaware of their own potential. It’s rather infuriating. If they tapped into their sexual energy, they might just leave some of their problems behind and be able to heal, grow, and move forward,” I said.
His eyes lit up as he responded.
“Do you think that’s what’s happening? Normally, I just inspire people to write about fucking. It’s a bit unsettling. So you think that mortal society is busy obsessing over sex while mostly not understanding or expressing it, and that’s why the reaction is so extreme?”
“I think it just might be. But I also think that is a bigger problem than we can handle at the moment. I think the first step is to find a way for you to harness your energy or refocus it.”
“But how?” he asked, putting the pillow back behind his head and relaxing against it.
I laughed. “This is completely uncharted territory in my mind. I don’t know anyone anywhere who has come up with a way to divert or suppress their erotic energy. Usually, it is just the opposite.”
Erato’s eyes looked downward, his hands clasped in front of him, his mouth a grim little line.
“I think we need to get back to nature and the natural world. That will give us some answers,” I started. “Like when we were young, and would build forts outside and sleep under the stars on warm nights. Those were good times. Solid times.”
My stomach made an ugly growling noise.
“You still have that ravenous appetite?” Erato asked, sitting up.
I gave him a light punch on the arm.
“I’m not a delicate flower that exists on only water and moonbeams. Let’s get some food.”
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