‘I worry about myself.’ Peirene and I are sitting on a bench on top of Parliament Hill as we take a break during our run. My eyes are travelling across a rainy London skyline, while the Nymph concludes her thought: ‘I might not exist for much longer,’
‘Well,’ the Nymph sighs. ‘I’m just being realistic.’
The dog, a black labrador, is approaching us.
‘In which way?’ I’ve detected a hint of the Nymph’s melodramatic undertone in her voice and my initial concern is replaced by curiosity.
I look around for the pet’s owner. Both, Peirene and I are scared of dogs.
‘The written word is going to die,’ she says solemnly.
‘I agree.’ I nod. The thought is not new to me. ‘After all, it was invented by the Ancient Sumerians as a means of storing information. We’ve now developed other, more efficient ways to do that.’ I pause. ‘Having said that, I also believe that for the time being we still need the written word to structure our thoughts. So I’d give writing a few hundred years more. 300 to 500 years, I’d say.’
The dog has briefly sniffed Peirene’s shoes and now lies down in front of our feet, head on its paws. No owner in sight. We both keep our gaze fixed on the horizon, but our bodies are glued to the bench. Neither of us even dares to move a finger.
‘For an ancient Greek nymph a few hundred years resemble a mere blink of the eye,’ the Nymph says.
I can hardly hear Peirene’s words. My heart is beating so loud. ‘Peirene, ‘ I whisper. ‘There is a huge dog at our feet.’
‘I know.’ Peirene whispers back. ‘I am trying to ignore it.’
‘What, if it attacks us?’
‘Then we both die in a blink of an eye’ the Nymph breathes.
I contemplate our fate during the ensuing silence. Then I give myself a push and lean forward to stroke the dog. ‘You won’t hurt us, will you.’ I stand up and pull the Nymph with me. ‘Come on. We have a job to do. A few more masterpieces to publish before dogs eat us or the written word becomes a thing of the past.’
We run down the hill as fast as we can and don’t stop until we are back within the walls of Peirene HQ.
Image by Duncan.