"Photos," I said. "Negatives. Albums."
"Family stuff?" She grabbed the top of the box, which was about the size of a small microwave, and tilted it towards her. "Any pictures of you bathing in a sink?"
I smacked her hand, which she jerked back, and tilted the box back towards myself. "No, nothing like that, and don't you go rooting around in there. This is personal stuff."
"Ah," she said. "I get it. Personal. Dirty pictures of you having sex with the various ladies from your harem. Pictures that would get you kicked out of political office."
"Probably," I said, "but they aren't pictures of me having sex." She raised an eyebrow at me. "Or anyone having sex," I clarified. "Dirty-minded Muse, that's what you are."
She shrugged. "I know you. You're a pig."
"True." I rifled through the box a moment, sorting, searching, then pulled out a small sheath of photos. "I did these back in college. A long, long time ago."
"Oh yes," she said. "I believe that giant lizards still walked the earth back then."
"Not quite that long. Pearl Jam still was a relevant band, however, and I didn't have any gray in my beard."
"Golly. I'm surprised you can remember that far back."
"Bite me, Muse," I said, and handed her the photos. "Oldies, but goodies."
She looked at the first one and made a soft hum. "Who's the bird?"
"Friend of mine from design class. Sarah. Lovely woman."
The Muse nodded. "I can see that. She's also got fantastic breasts."
"You noticed, did you?"
"Hard not to," she said, "when they're completely exposed and staring me in the face."
"History, Muse, history in your hands. You're looking at the first and only nude photo shoot I ever did."
"No way." She flipped through the prints quickly, browsing, and then began again at the beginning, slower and with more deliberation. "She's really hot. Sort of like Uma Thurman, only not so weird. And with bigger boobs."
"She was awfully proud of those," I said.
"I can see why." The Muse flipped to another photo. "You didn't Photoshop this, did you?"
"Hell, no. In those days, you got it right the first time, or fixed it in the darkroom. No computer retouching for us poor students."
"So she had you taking nude photos of her outside? Your first shoot, and you were somewhere that you could have been caught?"
She flipped ahead a couple of photos. "In a graveyard."
"Hey, she asked for it. Her boyfriend was fishing in Alaska on the boats there, and she wanted to send him some naked photos to keep his interest up."
She leaned in close to one photo. "I'm thinking his interest wouldn't be the only thing up, after seeing these."
"I thought they were tasteful."
"They are. She's just that hot. Also, the photos are good."
"They weren't all good. I shot five rolls of her, and you've got ten photos there. The rest of them you don't really need to see."
"Doesn't matter," she said. "You only show the ones that are good. The rest get to hide away. Are they in the box?"
"Nope. Sarah took all the prints I made, and I didn't bother to reprint the bad ones. The negatives are in there someplace, though. I'm a hoarder when it comes to that stuff."
She finished the stack, and started at the beginning again. "You can tell she's totally comfortable with you. It's in the eyes."
I nodded. "We were pretty tight there for a couple of years, until graduation. You lose touch with people after that, sometimes, you know? I've been trying to track her down on the internet recently, but no go. She might have gotten married, changed her name, I don't know."
"To the fisherman?" she asked.
"Nope. He dumped her not long after he got his photos. I think he didn't approve of her having some strange guy taking photos of her naked."
"The heathen," the Muse said. "I'll bet he doesn't pledge to public radio, either."
She reached the end of the stack again, and handed them back to me. "Next weekend is good for me," she said.
"What? What's next weekend?"
"That's when you're going to photograph me. I simply won't allow these to be your hot naked chick swan song. Talent should be nurtured."
"Hey now," I said. "I can't just go around shooting topless women anymore, you know."
"Sure you can. You just point the camera and push the button, right? It's just that simple."
"Well, no, it's not."
She thwacked me on the side of the head. "Der. I'm the Muse, remember? I know how hard art is to create. So shaddup about it. Next weekend, I'll meet you here, and we can make a little art, yes? It's not like you've never seen me naked, you know."
"It's not yeah-but season," she said.
"Yeah. But. Season. Rabbit season." She threw her hands up. "Man, you're thick sometimes."
"You have that effect on me. It's your Wonder Twin power, apparently."
"Girl's gotta have a skill. And don't change the subject. Next weekend. You, me, my tits. Deal?"
"You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?"
She grinned an evil grin. "You know me so well."
"Have to, Muse. Otherwise, you'd be the death of me."
"Hah!" she exclaimed. "The year is still young."