‘We can no longer live together.’ Peirene popped out an hour ago without telling me where she was heading. Now she lays a stack of loose papers onto the coffee table. ‘I didn’t want to tell you until I had finalized everything but…, ‘ she unbuttons her coat ‘…I’m moving out.’
I’m sitting in the big armchair reading through the applications for the Arts Foundation’s Literary Translation Prize. I’m one of the judges this year. The judging meeting is on Monday and I still have a lot to get through.
‘Let’s discuss in three days,’ I suggest. The Nymph wants to leave me every few months. I’ve learned not to panic.
‘This time it’s different.’ She pronounces each word loud and clearly, as if talking to a little child. ‘I will continue to work for you, but strictly Monday to Fridays and, from now on, with a clear job description.’ She takes a deep breath. ‘And to ensure that you stick to this new regime I will rent my own flat. I’ve just visited the estate agent. ’ She pushes the papers across the table towards me.
I sigh. It seems I have to pay my Nymph some attention after all.
‘Ok. Let’s talk now.’ I rest my forearms onto my knees. ‘Why do you want to move?’
She sits bolt upright. ‘I can’t believe you are even asking.’ Tears begin to fill her eyes. ‘No one is respecting my weekends. And no one understands my talents.’
I furrow my brow. I know we work a lot. But I also always thought we both enjoyed hard work.
‘I’m not a handyman.’ She burst into tears. ‘It’s all very well us running 30 stalls between now and Christmas and Jen ordering new, sturdier trollies for the book boxes. But then the trollies arrive. And the wheels still need to be fixed. And Jen isn’t in the office for the next few days. Then you tried and lost your patience. And now I have to screw on trolley wheels even though it’s the weekend. And that’s not what a nymph does.’
Guilt suddenly overcomes me. ‘If we both try it together,‘ I propose with a reconciliatory smile, ‘will you reconsider moving out?’
I can see that she likes my proposal. But for a moment she pretends to hesitate. Then she nods. ‘But only if you assemble the trolley, while I hand you the tools.’