‘I’m not going!’ the Nymph announces from her desk. It’s quarter to six, Thursday evening. We’ve just started to pack up for the day. We’ve been at work since 7.30am with only half an hour for lunch. I’m looking forward to the gym. And Peirene wants to indulge in a long bath, with her new scented candles and a facemask recommended by her beautician.
‘Where are you not going?’ I ask slightly confused.
‘Look at the email that has just dropped into our inbox.’ Peirene points at her screen.
‘Oh Meike, I hope it’s not too late and you are still coming tonight,’ the email begins. It’s from a reading group in Kingston. The other end of London. Back in October they invited Peirene and me to join them for tonight. Since I didn’t hear again from them, nor did I have their address, I emailed them in the morning, wandering if I was still needed. I didn’t receive a reply so Peirene and I made other plans.
‘I think we should go,’ I sigh. ‘If we leave soon, we can still make it in time.’
‘No!’ Peirene shakes her head. ‘That’s just not a way to treat an Ancient Greek Nymph. I’m now otherwise engaged.’ Peirene is about to walk out of the office.
I grab her by the sleeve. ‘We made this commitment. And it’s just part of our job to go and talk about the books. Anyway, I know you. Once you are there you always enjoy it.’ I let go of her sleeve, adding with a stern voice: ‘We’ll met in the car in half an hour.’
The Nymph eventually arrives at the car ten minutes late and decides to sit in the back listening to her music. As I park, I turn around, pull the headphones down from her ears and tell her that perhaps it’s better if she waits here. But she ignores me, opens the door and is already ringing the bell before I have caught up.
‘What an interesting reading group. What a wonderful evening.’ The Nymph’s cheeks are glowing in the dark on the passenger seat as we are heading back home. ‘And they wanted to know about ‘breach’ and editing and publishing and translating. And everything.’ She hasn’t stopped talking since we left. ‘We should do this more often.’ She lowers the window, hangs her head out and shouts into the starry night: ‘Hello, London reading groups, can you invite us, please.’ Finally she calms down.
‘You are really something,’ I say, tired but also pleased that the evening went so well. ‘If people only knew what fuss you made beforehand.’
Peirene looks a bit sheepish. ‘Well, I’m an ancient Greek Nymph and inflexibility comes with age. But luckily I have you,’ she squeezes my left cheek, ‘someone who keeps me agile and young.’
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Larry Lamsa, creative commons.
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 18 January 2016.