Pitching In

Monday was bright and sunny, and she hated it.

She’d called Circe the night before, who’d told her men were idiots and not to worry about it. “He’ll either come round and make things up, or you move on and find someone better.”

Circe didn’t understand that, for Calypso, there was no one better. She fallen in love with Herne and now she’d managed to wreck it.

Of course, the conversation had then moved to Circe’s baby. She’d finished work the week before and was in official count-down mode. Calypso would have preferred to have just hung up and cried again but she listened and made the right noises. Then hung up and cried again.

Thankfully Jason and Hercules had been out doing important pre-wedding things, so at least her drama hadn’t spoiled the start of their special week.

She came back from lunch to find an email from the Yggdrasil Submissions Committee waiting for her. She didn’t want to open it, didn’t want to confirm a rejection so fast, they didn’t bother waiting the full two weeks to tell her.

Aaliyah was gathering her things for her lunch break but paused. “Are you alright? I mean, you’ve been subdued all morning but now you look like you’ve been stabbed or something.”

Calypso shook her head and turned the screen to face Aaliyah. “I’m not sure I can face a rejection email today.”

Aaliyah sat down again. “It might not be a rejection.”

Calypso shook her head; Aaliyah placed a hand on her shoulder. “I could open it if you want.”

Calypso considered being stoic for about half a second, then caved. “Could you?”

Aaliyah took over the mouse and clicked on the ominous subject line Regarding your submission.

She took a while to read it, then frowned and read it again. Eventually she sat back. “You haven’t been rejected. They want you to pitch.”

Calypso’s shrieked. “What?” brought Eos over.

Aaliyah turned the screen back to its usual position. “You’re not an auto-accept as your business idea is on the edge of Yggdrasil’s area of expertise but they’ve got some investors interested in a few of the fuzzy edge submissions and you need to present to them.”

Eos leaned in as Calypso tried to breathe. “When’s the presentation?”

Aaliyah checked the email again. “Monday next week.”

Calypso managed to make it to the loo before she vomited.

She wobbled out of the stall to find Eos leaning against the wall by the basins. Her friend looked her over. “Are you pregnant?”

The last thing she needed right now was a vision of a baby with Herne’s eyes in her arms.

She gritted her teeth. Now was not the time to cry, Aaliyah needed lunch. It took a few tries, but she managed to reply without wailing. “Not pregnant, just terrified of public speaking.”

Eos nodded sagely. “And upset over something else as well, Aaliyah says. Well, then wash your face and rinse your mouth out. I’ll brew up a mint tea and we’ll put our heads together, see what’s to be done.”

Calypso did as she was told, then followed Eos out of the loos. She stopped in her tracks when she saw Tish sitting behind the reception desk while Aaliyah waved to her from one of the café tables.

She looked between the two. “I need to get back to work.”

Eos put a motherly arm around her shoulders and steered her towards Aaliyah’s table. “Tish will cope for a little while. Come and sit.”

Before she knew where she was, Calypso was sitting down, with both hands wrapped around the promised mint tea.

Aaliyah gave her time for a few soothing sips before saying. “It can help to talk about it, you know.”

It was embarrassing that it took so little. Everything spilled out. The clothes, the pub, the pitch, and more than anything, worse than everything, the argument with Herne. He’d been so damn reasonable; she couldn’t even call it a fight.

Aaliyah sat back. “That’s not fair.”

Calypso shook her head. “And now I not only have an entire weekend with people who never call me by my real name, the next day I have to convince a bunch of strangers I’m capable of running a business.”

Aaliyah sat up straight, her face determined. “In that case, we’ll just have to make sure you have your presentation nailed by Friday.”

Calypso felt her shoulders hunch in, and her spine curl over, her deportment teachers would be appalled.

Aaliyah stood and put a hand under Calypso’s elbow. “Come on. Your presentation is the one thing in this jumble you have control over, and it’s not like you don’t have help. So, let’s get to work.”

Calypso slid back into her seat at the desk, the horrible email she still hadn’t actually read covering her screen.

Tish spun in Aaliyah’s chair. “I’m going to lunch. If you need any cool-looking graphs, send me the data and tell me what it needs to say. Just don’t do it last minute.”

Calypso gaped at her; the purple-haired girl shrugged. “I need the practice.”

By the time Aaliyah got back from her interrupted break, Calypso had read the message and found no extra surprises.

She arranged to spend the evening at Dragon House, she could think there, and put the whole thing to the back of her mind to deal with then.

With advice from Amy and Eos, she had a plan for the presentation, and a list of information she didn’t have on Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, she had enough to get through the points she had to cover. On Friday, Circe gave birth.

A photo came through late Friday afternoon, a tired but happy-looking Circe with a tiny, crinkly-skinned bundle resting on her chest. Calypso wondered who’d taken the photo. The message said. Hey godmother, meet Telegonus. He’s utterly gorgeous and the best thing I ever did.

Her heart warmed and the smile she’d lost on the weekend found its way home. She replied. Of course he’s gorgeous, he’s yours. He’s also going to be clever and stubborn, so watch out!

When she got back to the flat that night, it was empty. She’d forgotten, Hercules and Jason were spending the whole weekend at the hotel. There was no one to share her new godson with. She sent the picture to Amy. Maybe he and Joshua could be long distance friends one day.

Amy responded with a smile, and some last-minute suggestions for the Monday pitch. Calypso lost her appetite.

Someone had been by the flat during the day. There were two bundles on her bed. One labelled ‘Friday’, the other, ‘Saturday’.

The Friday package had various skin and hair treatments and stern instructions on how to use them. Saturday had an all-white outfit and a note that said. Your car is booked for 10am. Don’t even think about catching the train.

She did as she was told, then went to bed early.

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