‘Oh, no.’ I point to the typo on the back cover of our latest book. Peirene’s name has been misspelled in the web address.
‘How could that happen?’ The Nymph stares in disbelief.
I shake my head. ‘I don’t know. I approved the cover. Then the proofreader signed off too. Neither of us noticed the mistake.’ I feel deeply embarrassed. I search desperately for an excuse. Eventually I find one. ‘It must have been the Gremlin.’ I add with gathering confidence, ‘the same one who steals our post’.
‘You think so?’ Peirene asks doubtfully.
I nod vehemently. ‘Yes. I’m certain.’
Before I have time to utter another word, the Nymph jumps up from her desk, rushes over to the sofa. She kneels down in front of it and glances underneath. Then she is back on her feet, opening all the cupboard doors. ‘This time I will find him…,’ she raises her voice, ‘Do you hear me, you Gremlin,’ she shouts, her face flushed. ‘You do not cross an Ancient Greek Nymph.’ She hurries out of the office. I hear her searching the house from top to bottom. She is banging doors, moving furniture, even looking behind picture frames on the wall. Because Gremlins can hide anywhere.
In the meantime I return to my work, pleased that I am no longer being blamed – but not entirely at ease with myself.
Then the ceiling above my head starts to shake.
‘What on earth are you doing?’ I stop at the door to my son’s room from where the commotion is coming.
Peirene is lying on her front. She has removed a couple of floorboards and is prodding a cricket bat into the space between the joints, knocking every now and again against the ceiling of Peirene HQ. I gently bring her to her feet.
‘That’s enough,’ I tell her. ‘The house is old, the ceilings are shaking, and there are no Gremlins hiding here.’
‘But he must be somewhere!’ Peirene exclaims.
I take a deep breath. I have no choice. I need to own up to my mistake.
‘Overlooking the typo was a human error. The proofreader or I should have picked up on it. I’m sorry that we misspelled your name.’
We fix the floorboards in silence. I head back to my desk. When Peirene walks into the office fifteen minutes later, her aura has visibly changed. She has washed the dust off her hands and face and is beaming contentedly.
‘The Gremlin has come out of his hiding place, ‘she announces. ‘We had a chat.’ Her eyes glitter with cheeky delight. ‘And we have decided to found a Trades Union for gremlins, nymphs and other ancient spirits. We need to defend ourselves from being unjustly blamed for human shortcomings.’
Image by Prayitno.