The doorbell rings. A man wants to deliver a freestanding stainless steel patio heater. I’m about to tell him that he must have got the wrong address, I didn’t buy this, when the Nymph appears next to me.
‘I’m so pleased. Thank you.’
She signs the delivery and drags the heater through the kitchen and into the back garden.
She has arranged a deckchair underneath a big sun umbrella. Next to it stands a table with a pile of books and jar of fruit cocktail. She places the heater beside the deckchair, strips down to her bikini, puts on her sunshades and drops down in the deckchair.
‘Do you mind moving, please.’ She waves her hand at me. ‘You are blocking the sun.’
I don’t move. Instead I put my hands to my hips. ‘May I point out that it’s Monday morning, 9am, our work week is about to start. Holidays are over.’
‘You might have had your holidays. But I’m exhausted. You made me work far too hard over the last few weeks. Our first Peirene Now! title breach was launched successfully with reviews in the national press and a blog tour by the authors, the second Peirene Now! title – about Brexit – has just been commissioned, Peirene No 21, The Empress and the Cake has arrived with our subscribers and we have recently announced our 2017 series.’ She drinks a few sips of her fruit cocktail through a straw. ‘I’m in desperate need for some serious me-time,’ she sighs. ‘Otherwise I will collapse before Christmas,’ she adds.
‘Peirene, I think you are exaggerating. Both James and I have been around on and off to help you throughout the past two months.’
‘On and off.’ She puts the back of her free hand to her forehead. ‘That’s precisely the problem. I had to carry the entire responsibility on my own.’
I feel guilt creeping up inside me. I have indeed relied on her, expecting everything to run smoothly.
‘I see your point,’ my tone is less harsh. ‘So how long would like to spend out here?’
‘Two weeks.’ She is now creaming her arms. ‘And I’m prepared for all types of weather. For sun,’ she points to her shades, ‘for rain,’ she points to the big umbrella, ‘and for the cold,’ she points to the heater. I’m about to say something, but she interrupts me. ‘And I’m doing it the cheap way – in our back garden.’
Her last argument has defeated me. ‘Fair enough,’ I agree. ‘But how about reducing it to a week?’
Her face breaks into a big happy grin and she blows me a kiss. ‘Thank you. That was my plan all along. But I thought if I say two weeks I would stand a better chance of you agreeing to one.’
Image by Erich Ferdinand, creative commons.