‘Have you heard from Peirene?’ I turn to James. He shakes his head.
It’s nearly noon on the first day in our new office. Our first proper office. We no longer occupy my front room. No! That’s history. Instead we have converted our loft with desks for myself and James and an intern. We have practical wall mounted shelves for our files, and proper storage space for all our book boxes. And best of all: the printer and franking machine no longer live on the floor.
I thought the Nymph would be up here long before us. Before Christmas she had been so excited, she almost didn’t want to take the break. She continued stroking the freshly painted walls, opened and closed our new drawers and franked a few empty envelopes just because it felt so good standing in front of the machine rather than kneeling on the floor in between boxes. Eventually I had to drag her by the hand out of the door. Her last words to me before we parted for the holidays were: ‘I can’t wait to be back at work in January.’
So, what has happened to my Nymph?
I descend the three flights of stairs. Peirene is not in the front room. I try to call her. No reply. Something is not right. Eventually I find her in the kitchen sitting on a chair as pale as a ghost. In her coat and hat and with her handbag on her knees.
‘I was in the office at 7pm.’ Her voice is shaking. ‘I then came down here to make myself a coffee. I went back up again, only to realise that I had forgotten the milk. So I went down again and up again. Then I had to go the loo, so down again, and up again. Then the postman rang. So down and … well I got half way. And then, I had heart palpitations. An Ancient Greek Nymph is not meant to climb three flights of stairs.’ She pulls a piece of paper out of her bag. ‘My resignation letter.’
I’m so shocked that for a moment I don’t know what to say.
‘You made that decision to move the office into the loft without thinking about my age,’ she sniffs. ‘Ancient Greek Nymphs just don’t seem to be your priority any longer.’
‘Oh, Peirene, that’s not true.’ But I do feel for her. I, too, have noticed how my heart races by the time I reach our new office. I’m sure, though, we will get used to it. And anyway it will keep us both fit.
‘What can I do to make you feel better?’ I pull a chair up and put my arm around the Nymph.
She lifts her head. ‘Well… there is something that would make me stay. A kettle, a tray of mugs and a tin of biscuits to be kept in the office. And perhaps we could make James responsible for opening the front door for deliveries.’
By Meike Ziervogel
(Image: Spiral stairs, Arial Rios Building, creative commons 2.0)
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 16 January 2017.