‘Come and look!’ Breathless I walk into the office carrying one of the big boxes that have just come and are now cluttering our hallway. I feel my face red from effort and excitement. I drop the box onto the floor, bend over it and start to open it.

‘Don’t!’ Peirene shrieks. Startled, I stop. ‘They were not meant to get here until next week,’ she covers her eyes. ‘Just ignore them. ’

‘But it’s The Cut. Don’t you want a glimpse?’ She shakes her head, I can see her jaw tensing. ‘Not yet. I can’t deal with it this week. James is ill, our new website needs attention and then we’re off to the book festival in Kiev. And you, of course, are busy launching your own book, The Photographer,’ she adds with a sigh.

‘I’m not suggesting we should send them out to the kickstarter pledgers,’ I try to calm her. ‘That’s scheduled for next week. So don’t worry. I just want to take a peek.’ I continue to tear off the tape from the top of the box. Peirene now jumps up from her desk and puts her hands on her ears. ‘Stop it! I can’t bear it,’ she wails. I straighten up. Is the Nymph in her right mind?

‘What if we misspelled the author’s name?!’ Peirene’s lip is quivering. Her eyes are filling with tears. ‘Or we overlooked a huge typo on the back of the book. Or the chapters have been printed in the wrong order?’

‘Peirene, we’ve been doing this now for 8 years. I’m sure we haven’t.’

‘Mistakes can happen,’ she replies. ‘And this is the most important book we have published to date. I’m just too stressed to handle any hiccoughs. Next week I will be ready. ’

For a moment I hesitate. Then I decide that it’s no point to upset the Nymph further. ‘OK. I will reseal the box until next week.’

But before I close the lid, I secretly take out a copy. I feel pride. I can’t wait to send it out.

It’s now evening. I’m in bed reading. Suddenly I hear noise from the hallway. I hold my breath. Rustling. Tearing. My heart stops. Oh no! We have mice again. I jump out of bed ready to chase the creatures back to their holes. But then at the top of the stairs I come to an abrupt stop. Downstairs, holding a torch, the Nymph is sitting in front of an open box cross-legged, stroking The Cut. She lifts her beaming face to me: ‘I couldn’t fall asleep. I just had to see it… and … and it’s so beautiful!’

Image by Jans Canon, creative commons.