What does the writer do with gifts from the universe that are not entirely worthy?

Usually the Muses are thoughtful givers. But sometimes, they have a wild hair. They bought on sale. Or used. The idea they gave you, a little tired. Worn around the edges. You’ve seen it before, somewhere. The plot twist or moment of character or snippet of dialog: It is not a glad thing. It is the big-eyed painting. The shirt in an unwearable color. The figurine with a chipped corner. The year-old fruitcake.

What then?

Can’t give the thing back. Can’t regift it elsewhere. Can’t return it to place of purchase. No. One is too well-raised for that. Instead, one sees whether the thing will fit; hides it away in a dim corner of the notebook, in a place subject to convenient amnesia. You know, I had forgotten it was there. The least she could do to honor the intention if not its expression.

Or maybe one decides to experiment with the questionable thing. To try it here or there in the story. Out of courtesy for the gesture. In that Geppetto moment, in carving a face out of a dull block of leftover wood, lives the possibility for surprise.

In digging the thing out of its hidey hole, one discovers that it’s had babies in there. Good ones. Handsome, noble ones. Some weird sort of cell mitosis has multiplied it into Possibilities. The thing itself is still as ugly as home-made sin, but its offspring–they’re wonderful.

Or maybe those loud socks just remain loud.

This is the color of the gift horse into whose mouth we can’t help but look.

Thank you, Muses. Thank you anyway. It was a lovely thought.