Peirene and I are sitting at our desks. Backs straight. Chairs pushed in. Arms bent at a perfect right angle. Fingers resting on the keyboards. Motionless. Eyes fixed on the screens. Hardly blinking. For fear we might miss the moment.
‘Anything in your inbox yet?’ I murmur. My mouth feels dry. My heart is racing.
The Nymph shakes her head. ‘Nothing,’ she whispers.
We’ve been sitting like this since eight in the morning. It’s now midday.
‘What if Olu and Annie have changed their minds?’ Peirene’s voice is barely audible. This question has also already crossed my mind. But before I have time to reply, I hear Peirene plead: ‘I need a wee.’
‘You can’t,’ I respond tersely. ‘Not now. This is the arrival of the final draft of breach, our first fiction commission ever. You can’t miss this moment. Once gone, it won’t return. Ever.’
The Nymph nods. She crosses her legs.
A couple of hours later the Nymph whines: ‘I’m hungry. It’s well past my lunch hour now.’
‘Shh. Be quiet,’ I hiss. ‘It will be any moment now.’
Peirene pushes back her chair. ‘I can’t wait any longer.’ She rushes out of the room. When she comes back in, she has things to say: ‘I knew our Peirene Now! Series was a bad idea. Writers never do what you want them to do. We will certainly not commission another book.’ I nod. She might indeed have a point.
But suddenly an idea comes to me. ‘What day is it today?’ I ask.
‘We agreed that they would deliver on Sunday.’ I’m embarrassed – and I know the Nymph will be livid. To have put her through today’s waiting ordeal! And sure enough, she rolls her eyes. ‘I don’t believe it!’ Then however she breaks out into an unexpected smile: ‘You take your books far too seriously. But I guess that’s why I like working with you.’
It is one of nicest things she has ever said to me.
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by John Goode, 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 2 May 2016.