‘Don’t!’ I hear Peirene shriek from inside the room. I have just put my hand on the handle, wanting to open the door to the office. ‘Don’t!,’ she shrieks again, ’push the door open.’
I squeeze in nevertheless. ‘What on earth is happening here?’
I’m not impressed by the scene. When I left work on Friday, everything was tidy and in its place. Now, on Sunday evening, the table is pushed aside and the entire floor, the sofa, the chairs are all covered with Peirene’s clothes. I realize quickly that there are a number of outfits. In the left corner a summer dress is laid out, complete with sandals, cardigan, sunglasses, sunhat and sun cream. Over at the right we have a pair of jeans, her blue polo neck, winter coat, woollen scarf, hat, gloves. On the sofa she has displayed wellies, her red rain jacket, umbrella. And on one of the chairs is her brown blazer with a matching skirt and blouse, tights and black shiny boots.
I pick up the boots. These are very nice boots. ‘Are they new?,’ I ask, barely able to disguise a tinge of envy.
‘Yes,’ the Nymph replies distractedly, running her hands through her hair. ‘I’m in such distress. I have to be ready by tomorrow morning 7am. All my outfits are incomplete and the shops are now closed. This is a total disaster.’
I don’t really understand what Peirene is talking about. ‘What is a disaster?’ ‘Don’t you know, I’m going to distribute newspapers with Clara and Clare tomorrow and I have nothing – absolutely nothing – to wear.’
That’s news to me. The Nymph usually has one hundred and one excuses why she can’t help with distributing our newspaper at tube stations. I know that secretly she feels the job is too unglamorous for her.
‘Did you volunteer?’ I ask in surprise.
‘Of course I did. This is our best literary newspaper ever. Hot off the press. I have to be there when it hits the London streets. But I don’t know what the weather is going to be like. It’s far too warm for the season. But then again it might suddenly turn. So I have to get at least four complete outfits ready.’
I begin to laugh. I just can’t take her too seriously. ‘It doesn’t matter what you wear. Clara will be honoured by your presence. And so will the commuters. It’s rare that they receive a paper from the hands of an Ancient Greek Nymph. Just dress warmly.’ I pause, then I add: ‘And if you don’t wear the black boots, perhaps you would let me borrow them.’
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Steve Johnson, 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 November 2015.