‘I might just get a bit tipsy tonight.’ Peirene is standing in front of the fridge eying up the four bottles of pink Champagne I bought a couple of days ago.
‘These bottles aren’t all for you,’ I inform her. We are going to be nine people for our office Christmas party tonight: Sacha, Clara, Jen, Gianna, James, Eoin, Clare, Peirene and I. ‘And you can’t have a headache tomorrow, ‘ I throw the Nymph a worrying glance. Peirene and alcohol – even a single glass – is like a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes she’s fine. And sometimes not – struck down with a migraine for three days afterwards. ‘We still have a lot do before leaving the office for the Christmas break on Wednesday.’
‘I know. ’ She closes the fridge door and shuffles over to the kitchen table. ‘But admit it: you must have also wondered if there is actually any point in continuing at all after tonight. Haven’t you? Life will never be the same again.’ She sits down and buries her face in her hands.
Seeing the Nymph so upset, my heart warms towards her. I pull my chair close to hers and put my arm around her shoulders. For a while we both hang our heads.
Tonight we are going to say good-by to Clara and Jen.
Clara has worked for Peirene for two and a half years. She’s turned the Peirene annual newspaper from a catalogue into an exciting literary magazine, has increased our ebook sales by 500%, and has revamped our subscriber database so that we now know our readers individual literary needs.
Jen has worked for Peirene for three and half years. She has made the Roaming Store into what it is today – the perfect pop-up bookstore: knowledgeable, friendly, efficient. She trained 15 booksellers and ran over 300 stalls. She has also set up the PeireneBookClub, turning it into one of the most stimulating reading groups in town.
‘It’s the end of an era,’ Peirene sniffles, and a tear runs down her cheek. I, too, feel a frog in my throat. Then suddenly I have an idea. ‘You and I we deserve an early glass of Champagne.’ I fill two glasses. We drink it in solemn silence. Peirene tops us up.
And soon the bubbles show their desired affect. A sparkle appears in the Nymph’s eye.
‘There is, however, one way I can imagine that life without Clara and Jen could become tolerable again: if we make it our custom to drink a glass of pink champagne in the late afternoon in their honour every day from now on.’
Image by Shari’s Berries, creative commons.
By Meike Ziervogel
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 22 December 2015.