TWO YEARS LATER
Remember that thing I was working on for some time? Well, I might have gotten a bit sidetracked and the task took me longer than I planned.
Two years longer, to be specific.
But what’s a win without a few struggles along the way, am I right?
Actually, I’m not right. I know it’s rare, but it’s true at times. This meaningless fucking hurdle has been bothering me for a while.
But here I am. Finally. In the middle of my own exhibition.
Now, to be perfectly clear, I’ve had multiple offers from renowned domestic and international art galleries to host my first solo art show ever since I was at uni.
I refused each and every one of them because, as I mentioned during my earlier moaning about timing, I was simply not ready.
And while that might sound like a flimsy excuse, it actually is true.
The Landon from two years ago needed a bit of a shake and a kick in the arse so he’d get his shit together and finally produce the masterpiece he was put on this earth for.
While I didn’t agree to solo exhibitions, I did take part in multi-artist and charity-funded exhibitions. I grew my name and left the art community brimming with excitement for when I’d finally show them what I’ve been secretly working on.
Safe to say, my masterpieces don’t compare to the decent but not-so-special statues I made before.
Things that were called ‘marvelously stunning,’ ‘achingly beautiful,’ and ‘brutally captivating’ pale in comparison to my new creations.
So, I might have gone a bit overboard and instead of producing one masterpiece, I have a few.
Or more like thirty of them.
The subject and the exhibition’s name? The Mystery of a Muse.
Statues of Mia fill out the gallery. For the first time, the subject of my obsession and addiction is revealed to the general public or anyone who’s not a staff member.
I stand in the corner, watching everyone falling head over heels for my genius and the reason behind my genius.
The muse whose existence I didn’t believe in until I was trapped by her forever.
The muse who filled up the emptiness so thoroughly, it’s become impossible to picture a world whose center she doesn’t occupy.
Mum was the first one who told me that my art finally has a soul, and I can see exactly why. Before Mia, I didn’t have a soul, and while some might argue that I still don’t, the truth is, I could only find my drive after Mia came into my life.
I needed a way to translate those feelings and unleash them onto the world so they could see how much she means to me. It might also have to do with the fact that I wanted to announce irrevocable ownership so everyone sees that she’s fucking mine and no one gets any funny ideas.
The statues filling the gallery are of Mia in different situations. The day I first met her after I brutalized her cousin’s car. The day I cornered her in the bathroom and she bathed me with blood. The day she kicked me in the nuts because of her adorable jealousy. With a flower in hand. In front of a field of her named arseholes that she sometimes gives more time than me. On the day of her graduation. The day she screamed my name for the first time—secretly my favorite moment.
However, my favorite statue is the one I chose as the main theme of this event. The piece I spent two years perfecting.
The piece everyone gawks at like it’s their custom-made god.
A giant statue of Mia stands in the middle of the gallery. She’s wearing her gothic dress and boots. Ribbons interlace her hair and her eyes stare at nothing. Her lips are sewed shut with stitches. The stone dips under each one, looking painful and deep and impossible to undo.
Two large wings blossom from her back, leaving gashes in the stone. One of them stands proud, but the other is crooked, broken, and half fallen. Red is splashed on the edges—her virginal blood that I got on a canvas two years back.
She holds out both her middle fingers. Like she did that day she let me chase her and showed me the side of her that spoke my language fluently.
The world is caught in a chokehold by my favorite—and possibly my only—masterpiece.
But not more than me.
I found myself in complete awe of my creation after I finished it. And, in a way, I experienced a strong sense of emptiness at the thought that I was done. My only solace is that I can make more masterpieces as long as I have Mia.
The woman in question appears by my side, her eyes blindfolded, guided by Bran and Glyn.
And she’s wearing a blue dress.
A color she reserves only for super precious occasions.
My art exhibitions belong on that list.
She’s snatched Mum’s position and has easily become my number one cheerleader. She just graduated and is ready to start working on her businesswoman dream, but she still models for me and pouts so adorably when I say she can’t see what I’m working on.
“Where are we going? Glyn? Bran?”
My siblings grin and give me the thumbs-up before they join Mum, who’s fighting tears as she gives a few interviews. Dad is by her side, looking proud and content. Let’s just say my decision to stop bugging my siblings for sport has improved things dramatically within the family.
Turns out, I was the problem and the drama king. Shocker, I know.
But anyway, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for.
“It’s me, muse.” I brush my lips against her cheek.
It flames in a bright red color. “Lan?”
“Yes.” I take her hand. “Follow my lead.”
“When can I see the statues? I’ve waited long enough.”
“I’ve been patient for two whole years. I don’t understand why you’re being so secretive when I’m your so-called muse.”
“It’s for a good reason, believe me.”
The crowd parts like the Red Sea for Moses.
I get past all our family and friends, including but not exclusive to Rai and Kyle—yes, we’re on a first-name basis now, as I’m obviously their favorite future son-in-law and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying—Maya, who’s been apologizing to her sister for the past two years, Nikolai, Uncle Aiden and Aunt Elsa, Grandpa and Nana, and our extended group of friends.
“Are we there yet?” she asks again.
I stop her in front of the statue and remove her blindfold. She blinks against the sudden light, but as she refocuses, her lips part.
The ethereal color of her eyes widens the more she takes in the details. Her gaze turns to the rest of the statues and she cups her mouth with her hands.
I can’t help watching her, falling for every spark in her wildflower eyes all over again. I thought the world was an utterly pointless loop of nothingness but then realized I was empty. I thought I came to peace with that part of myself, but that was until Mia showed up in my life and unlocked a side of myself I didn’t know existed.
She finally faces me, her face flushed and her lips still parted. “These are so…so…beautiful. No, that’s an understatement. I can’t believe you’ve been making these the entire time.”
“You’re the reason this masterpiece exists.” I lower myself to one knee and pull out the ring that I had custom-made from a rare jewel that matches her eye color. “You’re not only my muse, but also the sole reason I create anymore. You don’t complete me, you fill me up with your hope, determination, and constant nagging. But I digress. Only slightly, though.” I let my charming smile show through. “I used to believe I didn’t have a soul, but it turns out, I just needed you to fill it up. Now that I found you, I can’t and won’t live without you. Mia Sokolov, would you marry me?”
Tears shine in her eyes as she gets on her knees in front of me and nods frantically, then signs, “I love you.”
“Is that a yes?” I sign back.
“Yes. A million times yes, Lan.”
I slide the ring on her finger and then kiss her in the middle of cheers, hoots, and camera flashes from everywhere.
As we break apart, I whisper, “I love you, too.”
I know how much she needs to hear that, and while I don’t believe in love as an emotion, I believe in her.