Challenge #01122-C025: The Café of the Lost

It's present day, and the Muses get together for a re-union and catch up. The Muses of poetry also inspire writers by now. -- Knitnan.

[AN: I actually looked them up once upon a time, and they all used to inspire specific kinds of poetry. Now I know Terpsichore gets the dancers and Calliope gets the musicians... but I need to go on a wiki walk to discover who else gets what in the modern day]

The air reeked of coffee and desperation. The neon lighting gave a headachy nimbus to the bright yellow tables and the hum of the lights threatened to put teeth on edge. The coffee wasn't anything to write about, and neither was the food. The only advantage this place had over any other chain was that it was open at all hours and had free wifi.

Inspiration happened here.

It was called Zeus' Daughters with a subscripted "coffee house" underneath. The food and the coffee were both cheap and plentiful. Nine sisters ran the place. Nobody who cared to ask could tell who was older than another, as all of them had a timelessness about them. And a sleeplessness about them. Though you rarely saw all nine together, they could each be present at various intervals at any time of day or night.

Cal was the one who hummed under her breath, usually drowned out by the foam machine, but rhythm and melody were her constant aura.

Thal was the one who was always ready for a laugh. She could pun up a storm or come out with the cleverest of observational comedy at the drop of a hat.

Clio was the one who knew all the fascinating trivia about history. She was the go-to girl for any writer looking for an obscure nugget of knowledge where Google failed.

Uri was the stargazer. She knew everyone's horoscope and could rattle off curious facts about the stars and the makeup of the cosmos. She was the one most often on the rooftop portion of the café at night.

Ute was the rapper, the beat poet, and the casual rhymer. She knew meter and rhyme, and she would join with Siché in performance art that usually made all three patrons at the time stand up and applaud.

Pol was the philosopher and spiritualist. People in crisis came, and she would appear by their side. Usually with something hot and sweet to console their stomachs and soft words to ease the burdens of their hearts.

Mel was the drama queen. If something was a disaster, it was the utmost disaster. Things were cataclysmic whenever they went wrong and nothing, nothing short of the greatest sacrifice would ever make things whole again.

The aforementioned Siché was the dancer, weaving her way through busy crowds and empty tables alike with a grace that knew no equal. Her feet never tripped, for all that they tripped lightly across the simple flooring. Her hands never dropped a dish, for all that they wove through the air like a magic spell in progress.

And then there was Rato. She ran the wifi and could always be found in a darkened corner in the far back of the lounge, with her face lit by a laptop screen. She muttered to herself and giggled a lot. And when she spoke to the clients, it was always with a whisper to their ear. She could make nuns turn bright red with a smirk and cause political figures to sweat with a wink.

And this place was where the lost and heartsore came. Often not knowing why their feet took them there. In the blackest of their moods, in the loneliest of their wanderings, they found the café and a place to sit and a handy row of bricks to stare at. These were the people who needed them. And one sister or another would come from the back room or behind the counter or the darkest corner of the lounge, and kiss them gently in an approved place.

The people never saw them do this. Nobody had any record of it. And in any case, it did not take effect immediately.

The lost soul would order something warm, something chocolate, something... soothing. And sit and stare and sigh. They would eat and drink, staring at nothing. Thinking nothing. Doing nothing. And in that nothingness, the kiss that nobody saw or felt would work its way inside. It would grow, like a glowing seed, into something new.

People could watch it take root, though. See the spark in the eyes ignite. See the life inside them bloom. See them straighten and begin a smile. Some would twitch their fingers. Some would mumble to themselves. Some would snatch napkins and pens and begin scribbling. Some would laugh like they were about to take over the world and show them all. Some hurried to dash down ideas on laptops or phones.

But all who came in lost and defeated in a slow and weary slouch, left in an excited and vigorous pace, eager to take on the next step. No matter what it was. And those people who ran out always ran back in to leave a generous tip.

And nobody ever cared to look up their names and who they were.

Calliope, Clio, Uterpe, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polhymnia, Urania, and Thalia. Zeus' daughters.

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