Isabel Ruppel '21


I’m writing to you because I broke up with that artist friend of yours. Jazz player. I don’t want to write his name. That’s petty of me but that’s where I’m at right now. So, I’m writing because I know he will write it down better than I will and he’ll give it a tragic twist and set it to some trilling and everyone is going to believe him because it’ll sound so much more lovely when he tells it.

But, Cecil, I really don’t care what the rest of them think about this, all right? So you don’t need to go handing this letter over to one of your editor or publishing friends. This is for you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been someone's muse. There are lots of movies about it, and books, but I don’t know if it’s ever happened to you. You run in those sorts of circles though, Cecil, the sorts of groups where people claim muses. If no one’s claimed you yet, you should get out while you can. You have blond hair and blush easily; I can’t imagine you haven't been snatched up... kept in some mason jar with little puncture marks in its golden lid. Are you still in that jar?

Anyway, I was his muse. The arbiter of his art. At first it was really lovely. He would have me pose naked like he was a painter; he would look me over and compose. He used to dress me up in silk and introduce me as his inspiration at all those smoky clubs he plays at, you know the ones. He never used my name; it was always, ‘my muse’ or ‘my art’ or ‘my melody.’ Always his and always something superhuman, never just a woman. But I loved it then. I loved it. I probably wouldn’t have answered to my own name even if he had used it.

Well, for a long sunny while, everything was a dream, and I was more than human with him. I was divine, I didn’t touch the ground when I walked, I came apart into sparkling mist when he called. It was all champagne bubbles and piano keys.

But you can only write about a bright thing for so long. He saw me cry once and told me I looked more beautiful than when I smiled. The way he lit up watching me cry, I’ll never forget it. It made me feel very profound and grown up and sophisticated to be so beautiful and miserable. He loved me more then, when I was coming undone, than when I whole.

I was his “blue period,” he said. I don’t think you understand. I was sadness itself to him. He wrote so well then, and everything was dark but it was also very wonderful. I don’t want to get too specific here—it’s not something I want to write down—but I can say that he became very fascinated with my pain. But he wrote better than ever, and all his artist friends fawned over me and kissed my cheeks like we were in Paris.

He said I was death to him, eventually. We were sitting in that restaurant just down the block with a candle between us. He said it like that was the height of romance. I had graduated from mere sadness. He wrote somewhere that my eyes were... “like the death of autumn” and that I made him “ache like I’d cut him open,” and that he loved me for it. He said I was death to him. Do you know what it feels like to be named someone's death? I guess it feels something like dying.

He’ll write about all this and say it better, and he might have all the facts, but it won’t be true.


Cecil, what they don’t tell you is that white wine with frozen grapes is really wonderful and it will feel worth shedding your personhood over if you let it.


Your friend,