By George Saoulidis
Published by Mythography Studios
Copyright 2016 George Saoulidis
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Sofas And Ice-cream
The big nasty Cretan snorted in a disgusting way, then pointed his shotgun at me. I ducked behind his sofa. The man bellowed, “You chose the wrong guy to mess with, lady!”
I feel like I should introduce myself. I’m Eris. I’m a heartbreaker. And this is my favourite job in the world.
The Cretan fired and the edge of the sofa vanished up in the air. Yellow puffs of stuffing flew all over the place. I held my head, more in surprise that it was still there than anything else, and crawled without a shred of dignity towards a door.
I’ll tell you what happened. But first, you need to see me at my least favourite job.
It was three days ago. I was working beside my best friend Harmony, both of us in our silly neon uniforms, manning the take-away counter. The shop was practically empty and I was chewing on a gum loudly, getting angry stares from Harmony. She hated chewing sounds.
A woman strolled in the shop, a kid in tow. She had him on a tight grip and pulling him in a slide over the floor.
“I want ice-cream!” the kid said as soon as they reached the counter.
“No, you can’t have ice-cream,” his mother said in the motherly-scolding tone all mothers adopt in these situations. “We’ve talked about this.”
“But mooom…” the kid whined and fell on the floor.
I leaned down over the counter to him and said, “I think you should have some ice-cream. The chocolate sprinkles are to die for,” and winked.
His mom stepped between us and said, “Excuse me! Don’t make him agitated now young lady. Who are you to talk to my kid?”
I typed in the ice-cream order and flashed her my smile. “I’m Eris. So, one chocolate sprinkled ice-cream and…”
“Yay!” the kid said and raised up his arms.
His mother pulled him away and turned to me, shocked, “I’ll be talking to your manager for this, young lady!” Then she dragged the child all the way to the parking spot.
Harmony sighed beside me. “Why do you enjoy this so much?”
“Enjoy what,” I asked.
“This! Messing with people.”
“Oh. Well, it’s the only thing that makes this job bearable,” I said.
Harmony shook her head. “And to think that you actually like these stupid uniforms…”
“What? They are bright and merry! Yeah, I like them.”
Harmony just stared. I knew damn well what she thought of my peppiness.
Friends And Layoffs
“So, another complaint for you, Eris. How, shocking,” my boss said, not shocked at all.
I was sitting across his desk, chewing gum loudly. I didn’t know if he hated that too, but it was a safe bet he did. We were in the dungeon of his office, a closet-space with no windows and piles of papers. He had the usual amount of papers in front of him, but he seemed to be struggling with two specific ones.
“There’s a reason for that,” I began to explain.
“Stop,” he interrupted with a palm up. “You know damn well you’re fired. My problem is, I have to fire your friend Harmony too. And I overheard you two yesterday talking about her getting evicted.”
“Yes, she is,” I said, sinking down on my chair. “But don’t blame her for my behaviour!”
“I’m not,” he said and seemed to mean it. “I just need to cut down on employees. But I can’t bring myself to tell her.”
I snatched the papers from his desk and stood up, smiling wide. “Oh don’t you worry now! I’ll tell her myself.”
“I can’t believe you did this!” Harmony said with a struggle, waving the paper all around.
“Hey! I’m getting fired too here,” I said and bobbed my head.
Harmony bit her lip and turned away, leaning on the counter. “No, it’s the way you said it. Like you enjoy bringing bad news or something.” She sniffled.
I raised my arms in mock surrender. “Don’t shoot the messenger.”
“I thought you were my friend…”
I pointed at our identical layoff papers and said, “I am your friend. See? We’re getting fired together. BFFs.”
Harmony turned back to me, but she seemed angry now. She gritted her teeth, “It’s always like this with you. Do you get off ruining people’s lives? God, you’re such a sadist.” She took off her neon hat, which I knew she hated and threw it on the counter. Then she stormed off, leaving me to finish the shift alone.
It wasn’t like there were any customers to serve or anything.
Guns And Apples
Turns out, Harmony was right.
“I don’t believe you! My bae wouldn’t do this to me,” the big angry Cretan said, waving his shotgun around.
I was peeking in from the kitchen door, crouched down and presenting as small a target as possible.
I leaned in and said, “Your ‘bae,’” with air quotes, “has hired me to handle your breakup.”
The Cretan pointed the shotgun at me and yelled, “You liar!”
Then as I repositioned my weight to dart back in a hurry, a small weighty thing in my pocket hit on the door-frame with a hollow thud.
“I have proof,” I said quickly. “Just open this and you’ll believe me.”
I took it out of my pocket and presented it to him, waiting for him to see it clearly.
It was shiny and golden, a wooden apple-shaped box. I waited for a mumbled ‘okay’ from the angry man and with extremely slow movements, I rolled it towards him on the floor.
I peeked around, he was interested, no longer pointing his shotgun at me. He pucked it up, twisted it and it popped open. He looked at it’s contents.
Then the big scary man sagged and fell on his knees, ready to burst into tears.
I came out of hiding and said, “As you see Mister, your ‘bae’ has decided to break up with you. That is physical proof for the message I carry.”
The big scary man let the shotgun fall on the floor with a thud. He picked up a keepsake from the golden apple and held it in his huge fingers. Then he let it all out, weeped and blew his nose on his t-shirt. “My sweet Lily… Why?”
Great. Another job well done.
I walked beside him carefully, hesitated, and then patted him on the back. His huge muscles were jerking as he wept. “There there,” I said.
Yeap, this is my favourite job in the world. I’m just the messenger. If you see me, prepare to be heartbroken.
Phones And Phoneys
Three days before I got my all-time fave job, I was visiting my buddy Ryan at his startup. It’s called BadNews, one word, no space in-between. ‘Where you can outsource your bad news instead of calling your family and friends yourself. 25% off for funerals.’
I walked in the office, it was nice and trendy. I greeted Daisy, Ryan’s assistant. She’s cute as a button. And she cries too much.
And I flipped the bird at Tom, who’s a total dick.
Once inside Ryan’s office, I found him talking on speakerphone. He had a serious frown on, and he gestured for me to stay quiet and wait.
I ignored him and stood next to him, listening in.
“Um… Yes Miss Andrews, it’s not a prank call. Your husband wants us to inform you that he wants to break up with you,” Ryan said uncertainly.
“What is this? Who are you people?” the woman on the phone asked.
“I’m the owner of the company BadNews, one word no space in-between-”
The woman’s voice broke, she was holding in the tears. “I guess… Well, he hadn’t touched me for so long… It might be true.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have the details or his reasons. Maybe he wasn’t satisfied enough-”
“You pig!” the woman interrupted. “You’re just like any other man. You’re all pigs.”
Ryan fumbled with the receiver and pressed all the buttons together. “Yeah, well, you’ve been informed. Job done! Bye-bye.” And he hung up.
“What was that about?” I asked and sank in his CEO chair.
Ryan shook his head, touching the spot between the eyes as if fighting back a migraine. His exposure to me wasn’t helping in any way. “Aren’t you supposed to be at work or something?”
“I got fired,” I pfft’ed. “Tell what that was,” I demanded, pointing at the phone.
“Again? What is it with you and holding down a job?” Ryan said incredulous.
I just shrugged at him. I didn’t really know myself.
“Anyway. This was yet another client that asked for us to break up with his wife. Or girlfriend. Or boyfriend. I can’t handle this,” he said, sagging on the visitor’s chair in his office. “I-I just can’t do this thing, you know?”
I moved his mouse around to wake up his computer and read the order details.
“Be my guest!” he mocked, “Mi compania es su compania.”
I ignored the scruffy CEO’s comment and read on the monitor, clicking as loudly as possible. “All of these are orders for breakups?”
“Yeah,” Ryan sighed.
I picked up the phone, read the second order on the list and waited for the other person to pick up.
Ryan stood up, tried to take the receiver from me but I slapped his hand away. “Hey. Stop. Eris. What are you-” he said urgently.
I shut his lips with my fingers and held them there.
The woman picked up the phone and, in my best professional voice I said, “Hello Mrs. Blackwell? I’m Eris, and I’ll be handling your breakup for today.”
“What? Oh,” Mrs. Blackwell said. “Is this a joke of some sort?”
“No ma’am, this is not a prank. Your husband has hired us to give you the news. It seems he has decided to move on,” I said, trying to seem as understanding as possible.
“That pig!” she said
“Yes, a total pig, if you say so.”
A pause. Then, “I deserve better than that. My good days aren’t over yet.”
“Of course. I’m so sorry, I wish you the best. Goodbye,” I said, hanging up.
Ryan’s eyes were wide, and he waited for my comment. He couldn’t hear her end of the conversation. “Stop grinning like that!” he told me as soon as I let go of his lips. “This should be gut-wrenching! A tormenting experience!”
“This is fun! Can I do the rest?” I said not really waiting for his say-so. “How much did these guys pay anyway?”
Ryan sagged back in the visitors chair and let out a long sigh. “Twenty euros.”
I- well I just mouthed the word twenty in stunned silence. I mean, twenty euros? For a phone call? Am I right?
“It’s alright, Daisy can handle it. She cries for about forty minutes after each one, so I think she’ll be over the list by tomorrow night,” Ryan said.
“How much do I get for finishing them in an hour?” I asked, receiver in hand and ready to sprint.
“I dunno? I’m already paying Daisy a salary. I didn’t factor in freelancing. Ten euros each?” he shrugged.
“Deal,” I said and shook his hand.
After that, I went through the list like a breeze. There were some issues but I handled them well enough, I believe. When I was done, Ryan, Tom and Daisy were towering over me, staring like idiots.
“Whoa. You’re completely heartless,” Tom said.
“Thank you. I think,” I said. “Don’t you have some apps to play with?” I said and scooted him away. “Ryan is not paying you to just stand there gawking.”
Me and Tom, we just hate each other. Don’t ask me why. Oh wait! I remember. It must have been that one time I showed up in this office and told him that my brother hooked up with his girlfriend the previous night.
What? I told him I was sorry.
“Well, good job for today,” Ryan said reigning in the troops and they scurried back to their desks. There was a reason he was the CEO.
I put out a beggar’s hand, unashamed. “Cash please.”
“I don’t carry cash around! This is the 21st century. I’ll wire them to you, you should have them by tomorrow,” Ryan said and claimed his CEO chair back from me.
I narrowed my eyes at him and through pursed lips, I said, “You better be good for it, mister!”
“You still owe me like five hundred meals. I’m not made of money Eris,” he said and sat on his comfy leather chair.
“Sure you are! You’ve got a fancy startup and everything,” I said pointing all around.
“Yeah,” he whispered. “It’s not going so well. Don’t mention anything in front of the others.”
“I won’t,” I said casually.
He glowered at me.
Apples And Jewels
I took the metro and then walked back home. On the street outside I found Abigail, as always. She was a sweet single-mother, trying to make ends meet by selling stuff at the street corner. She was so nice to me, always made my day when talking to her.
“Hey Abigail. How’s business?” I said, fondling her merchandise. She had a foldable stand with hand-painted apple-shaped boxes on it.
“Same old. I think I sold one today. Some guy traded me for a hot dog,” she said, smiling wide.
I turned my pockets over for spare change, and said, “Hey, I need another for my… Uh, jewelry.”
She took the change and eyed me in disbelief. “Uh huh. Right. The jewelry you never seem to wear.”
I clicked my tongue and flashed my best smile at her. “That’s why I need places to store them!”
Abigail took out an apple from her bag and gave it to me. It had nice swirls and bright colours on it.
“Oh, you made another just for me? You always know what I like Abby. It’s perfect,” I said.
“So, what’s new,” Abigail asked.
“I got fired,” I said casually.
Abigail tried to put the coins back in my jacket pocket.
“Oh, don’t worry,” I said nodding uncontrollably and gently pushing her away. “I got another gig, phone… uh… Sales! I’m getting paid tomorrow.”
She shook her head slightly. “They better. Well, you know where to find me.”
“Sure do!” I said, holding the apple like a present. Then I got back home.
Miserable. Home was pure misery. It’s not supposed to feel like that, is it? Cheap, small and dark. Not that I needed more space or anything, I didn’t have any hobbies that required it.
I crumpled my newest layoff paper and put it in the apple Abby gave me. I lovingly put it on my shelf, next to the rest of the apple-shaped boxes from her. The first one was artistic but with muted colours, the next ones were all in the same style but with neon chromatic overdose. I guess Abigail had seen my wardrobe and guessed accordingly. She was spot on.
Still, it would be nice if all those apples were edible.
I opened my fridge, sighed at the contents, or their lack thereof, and shut it closed again.
I sank in my sofa and called Harmony. “Hey! Just wanted to see how things are.”
“What do you care,” Harmony said coldly. I could hear the distinct sound of duct tape as she pulled it from the roll.
“You can come stay at my place,” I said hopefully.
There was a pause. No duct tape sounds, just a sigh.
“Hey,” I said softly. We’re friends, you don’t even need to ask, just come…”
“No we’re not,” Harmony interrupted. “I thought we were, I kept finding excuses for you all these years but… No. We’re not friends any more, Eris.”
And then my best friend hung up on me.
I just sat there, staring at the phone as my tears fell.
Good job, Eris. Nice one. Push away one of the two friends you have in the whole world.
Words And Faces
I needed air, lots of it. Granted, Athens’ air wasn’t all that healthy to breathe in with all the smog and everything but what was I to do? Take a train into the countryside?
I just chose a direction and started walking in the city.
I was lost in thought and was observing people. I always had an issue with that, understanding others. It felt like I was the only person in the world who had to study them, notice things, analyse expressions and hand movements. Others didn’t seem to do that, they just…
I saw a shop customer angry at an employee. A couple that had an argument in a car. A woman that was yelling at her waiter, for gluten or something. A driver cursing at another at an intersection.
Why do we like strife so much? We all do, we just don’t admit to it. It’s taboo for some reason. Everyone loves a good train wreck. It’s in our nature, we can’t look away. I just show my infatuation for chaos, and that pushes people away.
Conflict. Entropy. Breakups.
Isn’t that what brings about change? Isn’t that how we grow?
Chocolate And Freckles
The next day, I felt energised. I waved good morning to Abigail on the street and hurried over to Ryan’s startup.
I got up to the fancy office building and reached Ryan’s floor. Then I strode inside, waved at Daisy and stuck my tongue out at Tom.
I found Ryan working on a spreadsheet.
“You know, I thought startups were supposed to be more… Fun? Trampolines and stuff,” I said as the environment depressed me.
That was an understatement actually. BadNews, no space in-between was sucking the living joy out of me.
Ryan raked his hand through his hair. “Yeah, those days are over. There are some unicorns still, but…”
“There are unicorns?” I said excitedly. “I’ve always wanted one since I was a little girl.”
Ryan eyed me, as if he realised I was mocking him. Whoops, busted. “You know damn well it’s an industry term. Anyway, what’s up?”
I swung left and right on my axis, giddy like a little girl. “I’m back to job hunting, but figured I should drop by and say hi. So, hi! Are there any more breakup orders?”
Ryan checked his computer and clicked his tongue. “There are actually, just two for now. But I don’t think I’ll accept these any more.”
Well, that sucked.
“Well, it goes against my whole business plan. This turns us into an afterthought of the dating industry,” he said.
“Your words are meaningless, but your face suggests that’s a bad thing,” I said with my keen sense of observation.
“I have investors to please Eris. This falls into a different vertical,” Ryan said.
I just glared at him until he made sense. Somehow.
“It’s a different sort of business!” he explained.
“Was that so hard to say? Okay, fine, you know best you startupper you,” I said and hit the road to find me a new job.
Fumbling with a newspaper for job listings and a pen in my mouth, I managed to answer the ringing phone. It was my older brother, Tyler.
“You’re up early,” I said, checking the time. It was too early for him.
Tyler whispered, “Sis, I need a code B.” He used the super secret code we had developed for shorthand. I’ll explain what it is in a few.
“Tyler!” I whined. “I’m supposed to be job-hunting.”
“I’ll pay your lunch. Hurry up,” he whispered. I could hear cutlery clinking.
“Fine. You know the way to my heart.”
Tyler’s place wasn’t too far away, but I needed to hurry because code B was time-sensitive. That said, his apartment wasn’t near mine of course. I lived in a shitty windowless hole, whereas Tyler lived in a sparkling new penthouse. They tend to keep those in different neighbourhoods.
I looked up at his window, my feel-good attitude gone and it was still ten o’clock. Tyler would be gone from his place, I had a spare key.
A flash of a smile appeared on my face as I remember the day before, when I delivered those breakups. Then I thought about our childhood. About school.
You know, nobody just wakes up one day being good at something. Freud might be discredited nowadays, but he must have been right about the whole childhood thing.
It’s the early memories that define you.
I dug up an old memory, of me in the schoolyard, as I walked up to another, taller girl. I remember speaking as if reciting a poem through missing teeth, “Tyler told me to thay to you, that he doesn’t want you to be his girlfriend anymore. Here’th a dollar for a chocolate.”
Then the tall girl cried loudly, looked around for Tyler. I pointed out to her where he was hiding, behind a tree with his friends. The tall girl weeped loudly and ran away.
I walked back to Tyler, and said, “Why didn’t you tell her yourself?”
My older brother rubbed his neck and leaned in, away from his buddies, “Eh… I dunno. I can’t do it. Good thing I have you Eris. Thank you for doing this, you won’t have to again.”
Ha. Snort. Yeah right. I lost count at Tyler’s puberty.
One And Night Stands
The beautiful woman woke up. It was broad daylight but I sat completely still in the living room waiting for her, so she didn’t notice me. She moaned in pleasure as she stretched herself, then a pause, then a small yelp of excitement as she saw the breakfast in bed Tyler had prepared for her.
Then a soft inhalation. She was smelling the rose.
I heard the plate clink.
Then she shuffled in the bedroom, and appeared in the doorway with one of Tyler’s shirts, nothing underneath.
Her smile faded as she saw me.
“Hi! I’m Eris,” I said joyfully, but I wasn’t really feeling it by then.
A flash of anger in her face. She was supermodel hot. Long blonde hair in curls messed up just enough, perfect legs, perfect butt, perfect… everything. Tyler’s type. “I-Huh. Tyler didn’t say anything about… Being with another…”
“Oh don’t worry,” I waved away. “He’s single. I’m his sister.”
She cheered up at that. “Oh! Yes, I can see the resemblance now. That’s good of him. Having a sister and everything.”
“Not really. Anyway, Tyler wants me to tell you that he’s breaking up with you. I’m sure you’ve had a great night, with bubbly champagne and passionate sex. He’s very sorry but it won’t work out. He wishes you well. You can shower if you’d like, before you leave,” I said, and tried to smile.
Her stare was deadly. “He’s sorry? Shower? Before I leave?”
“Yes. Though I’d personally appreciate if you could speed this along, not everyone in this family is a successful lawyer. I have to go find a job and stuff,” I said, nodding.
My phone vibrated and I checked. It was Ryan. I rejected the call and looked back at the beautiful pissed off woman.
She pointed at my side.
“What is that?” she asked, obviously knowing what it was but was revving up for rage.
“That? Oh right!” I said and picked up the gift basket. Silly me, I was totally out of shape this morning. Almost forgot the gift basket. I stood up and presented it to her, pointing at the contents through the ribbons. “This is from Tyler, he wanted you to have it. Chocolates, bath salts and complementary loofah.”
The woman accepted the basket from my hands, looked me in the eye and spitefully let it fall on the floor at our feet. Little wrapped chocolates, which I knew were delicious, spilt all over the place.
Guess she didn’t like it, then.
The woman gritted her perfect white teeth and said, “If you think- If Tyler thinks he can just send me away with a gift basket... And what are you... What sort of man is he? He sends his little sister to break up with me?”
“That’s me!” I said with a quiet Ta-da!
She didn’t appreciate it. She paced up and down the living room, Tyler’s shirt billowing behind her. “That bastard! I thought we- He couldn’t even do a text? He’s got no balls at all!”
I covered my ears and eww’d. “You’d know best. I haven’t checked. Let’s not go there, please.”
Three minutes later, I called Tyler. He was driving, I could hear the street ambiance from his hands-free.
“What did she break?” he asked, cool as ice.
“Lemme see. A plate. Your carpet will need some soda and rubbing. Why do you always go for the strawberry jam? It leaves stains. A couple of torn buttons on the shirt. Kicked the gift basket. Slammed the door. Huh. You got off easy, I figured she was a tornado class 5. This was barely a 2,” I said, leaning down to the fallen gift basket.
“Which one did you give her?” Tyler asked.
“The 200 euro one. Doesn’t matter, she didn’t accept it.” I opened a closet and put the gift basket back in it’s place. The shelves were full of more ready-made gift baskets, ribbons and everything.
“The 200? Why not the 100 euro one?” Tyler asked.
“Are you kidding me?” I said munching. “I took one look at her. That woman does not know what cellulite is. That butt was worth 200 euros of goodie bag, at the very least. Trust me.”
Tyler grunted like all satisfied men do. “Yeah… It sure did. Are you eating the goodie bag chocolate?”
“I’m hungry!” I whined as I gulped it down. “Plus I need some energy for my job hunting.”
“Okay. Good luck, see you for lunch,” my brother said.
Coffee And WiFi
Oh I tried, looking for a job. I really did. I even knocked on a few doors, talked to bosses, managers. Nope, I’m not the type to give up after a single day of job-searching but the general vibe of the city generally sucked. Unemployment was skyrocketing.
So I just sat on a coffee shop and banged my head on the table.
I was crossing out job listings, calling people on my phone and looking up addresses. The waitress brought me another cup of their cheapest coffee.
“Thanks,” I told her. “Hey! Are you looking for any more waitresses?”
She smiled at me, “No, sorry. There was a spot last week but it’s taken.”
“That’s alright. Thanks.”
My phone buzzed. Again. It was Ryan. Again. I rejected the call and wished for something more powerful than a lame touchscreen swipe.
I sipped my coffee and went through the job listings I had ignored earlier. ‘Girl under 23 years old with experience?’ Really? First of all, that was insane and secondly, when had I gone up to 25 and unemployable?
I sagged and banged my head on the table again, making the coffee cup rattle. As I held my eyes closed, Ryan called again.
I rejected, again.
A muffled voice and a tap on the window next to me made me look around.
Daisy, of all people, was there, talking to me, leaning in and shading her eyes from the sun to see inside.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
She talked but I couldn’t hear anything. She was flailing her hands wildly for some reason.
“I can’t hear you,” I said.
Daisy gestured for me to come outside.
“I’m lazy,” I said.
She gave in and came in the coffee shop. Then sat across me, and she was way too excited. “Eris! You won’t believe what happened.”
“We won’t know until you blurt it out,” I said with snark. I regretted it instantly, Daisy was a nice person. I was just frustrated at the moment.
“We got like a hundred breakups!” she said finally.
“Great,” I said and propped my head on my hand so she could really see I was bored. “Get on with it then. Pack lots of tissues on your way to the office.”
“No,” she shook her head wildly. “I can’t do them. Ryan can’t do them either. you have to, you were great yesterday!”
“Whatevs. Fine. Am I getting paid?” I said, showing one percent less boredom than before. Then it hit me, and I woke up, “Hey! Wait, how did you find me?
Daisy said, “Ryan was looking all day for you after you left. Tom saw you online, pinged your IP address. Since you’re on the WiFi of this place, it’s public info.
I was dumbfounded. “You’re telling me that Tom can stalk me anytime he wants to?”
Daisy winced, “It was an emergency?” Then she pulled my arm and stood up. “Come on, let’s go back to the office.”
Stalkers And Business Plans
Even from the corridor I could hear the phones ringing at the startup. Daisy rushed in and picked it up, taking a message. I just strolled in straight to Ryan’s office.
Oh, and I slapped Tom on the head as I walked past.
“What the-?” he said jerking up from his monitor.
“Stalking me?” I said, pointing an accusing finger at him. “Tracking me?”
Ryan ran out and met me. “Great. You’re here. Come on in.
He practically dragged me by the arm, and I noticed that phones were ringing constantly. The mobiles, the landlines.
“Listen,” Ryan said as if he had run a couple of miles, “Since yesterday, all the customers you handled left five-star reviews on our app. They wrote about their breakup, how easy it was. Then some blogger tweeted about a review and it blew up.”
“The review site? Or the app store? Kablowie?” I said.
“Not literally. It went viral! No, not really viral. It just hit a nerve. We got reporters from every tech-site wanting a quote about our new stealthy service.”
“So? Just give them one. You’re good with words.”
He was way too excited about this. “No! You see, I was planning to stop servicing breakups. We rewrote the TOS and everything-”
“Is that the bit where I skip and tick my soul away?”
“Precisely. But then people got raving mad about this breakup service. We got threats to get sued! A priest went on the radio and ranted about me!”
I squinted. “Your words say one thing, but our face says another. You’re happy about this. Are you having a fever?” I gasped, covering my mouth. “A stroke maybe?” I slapped him lightly. “Can you feel me slapping you? Anything? How about on the left?”
“I’m fine! I’ve never been better Eris. Don’t you see? This has struck a nerve. After four failed startups, I finally have a service that has the potential to go viral.”
“Sooo… You don’t want to cancel the breakups,” I said wearily.
Ryan tossed a few papers in the air and they tumbled around us. “Cancel? Oh my lovely Eris, I’m gonna rebrand and commit!”
The papers landed lazily.
“Cool,” I said and turned around gripping my bag. “Let me know how it goes.”
He chased after me and I spun around. “Eris. Eris. I want you to work on this.”
He nodded. “Really. You’ve been amazing at this. We can’t handle the stress of it. Orders are coming in as we speak.”
“Huh. Nice,” I said, sitting down. “It’s not like I got any other job offers.”
“Okay, so listen to this. We rebrand ourselves, to… Wait for it… Heartbreaker,” he said, presenting it with his hands.
I smiled. He was so dorky. But it was kinda cool.
“We’ll get a logo of a broken heart and everything,” he added.
“What about the investors?”
“The investors will jump at this opportunity! I mean, negative press? Free marketing? Gah!”
“Okay. I assume I’ll handle the breakups?” I asked.
“There’s an issue I noticed yesterday,” I said. “Look, half of the clients didn’t seem to believe me. I managed to convince them, but we are bound to get people who think we are scamming them or something. Apps won’t cut it for this Ryan. This needs face-to-face.”
Daisy gulped and we both turned to her. She had gone pale. “You’re going to walk up to total strangers and ruin their lives?”
“I’m not the one ruining it!” I defended myself at her. “Their loved ones are!”
“But… It’s love! And…” Daisy said, but the waterworks started.
Remind me to never invite Daisy to watch any chick-flicks at my place. I have a feeling the tissue costs would bankrupt me.
Ryan was taking notes and mumbling to himself. And me. But mostly to himself. “Okay, you got it. I hear you. This limits the scale I wanted to work with…”
“Ryan, this won’t work as an app. As an online discreet service, sure. That’s a bonus. You might as well fire Tom right now and scrap the BadNews app,” I said, faking my concern.
Tom leaned back on his chair and exclaimed, “Hey!”
“Sorry dipshit, it’s true,” I told Tom.
“ Don’t- It’s fine Tom, we still got a whole new site to code. Don’t listen to her,” Ryan said and turned back to me, taking notes. “Eris, go on.”
“We also need physical proof. Our customers need to send us something personal for their companions, so we can validate our claim that this is real.”
Ryan bit his pen. “Like a… Photo! No. A sweater she knitted for him!”
“Sweater. Right. If you’re my grandma. No, I’m talking about something small and intimate. A fridge magnet from a trip, a watch, a sexy thong.”
Tom leaned back on his chair again and eyed me, right on cue at the mention of sexy thongs.
“Perv!” I yelled at him.
Ryan kept on mumbling and scribbling. “Uh huh. Yeah, we can do this, with parcel collection, Athens only. Uh huh.”
I bit my lip. It seemed I had him in the ‘make it rain’ zone. So I said, “Plus I’ll need a car. A blue one.”
“A blue car,” Ryan repeated writing it down. Then he looked up at me, “What? You can’t drive.”
“Yes I can!”
“Oh no you don’t. Okay, taxi service it is for now, and we’ll see in the future. These will be limited in the city anyway, so the range is small,” Ryan said, and then sat back in his CEO chair and started making spreadsheets.
I swear, those Steve Jobs biopics made this process seem a lot more interesting than it really is.
“Uh huh,” he mumbled. “Yeah, I can whip up a business plan for this. Okay. We can get this started. We’ll send an email requesting the personal item, and charge them, oh, extra 15 euro for that. We’ll have the first batch collected tomorrow.”
“So? We’re on?” I asked, and I had to say I was a little excited.
“We’re on. Eris, by tomorrow morning, you’re a heartbreaker.
Apples And Paint
I hurried back home and passed in front of Abigail’s stand. “Gotta pee!” I said as I fumbled for my keys before I even got to my building.
“How did the job hunt go?” she asked.
“Oh, it didn’t,” I said hopping on the spot, “But I got something new at my friend Ryan’s company.”
I turned to leave, Abby would understand after all.
I stopped, and backtraced to the stand.
The apple stand.
I picked one up in my hand. It was a fist sized apple-shaped box, that popped open and could store a small object inside. They were hand-crafted, carved and painted by Abby.
“Abigail?” I asked with a frown. “Do you have any golden paint?”
“For you my dear, I can get you anything you need,” Abby said and smiled.
Buns And Dichotomy
The hot-dog guy was just standing there, stunned. He held a sausage in his pincers and was just staring at me. The sausage slipped and fell on the ground. With no reaction, he just picked up another one and put it in the bun.
His impatient customer was eyeing me and him, biting down his words. Boy, he really wanted to complain.
You see, I had just delivered the news to the poor man. His girlfriend, practically a fiancee since they had met the parents and all, wanted to break up with him. I had just showed up, told him who I was and what the message was.
It wasn’t really that hard, getting this business off the ground. We emailed the customers back, limited the service to Athens and asked for the mementos. People paid, and I handled their breakups.
I took the golden apple from my pocket and showed it to the hot dog guy. He took it and popped it open. It was a crumpled piece of paper, a common receipt, yellowed out by time and the letters blurry. I didn’t ask, but I assumed it was his first sale with his hot dog cart.
As he has fighting back tears, he prepared the customer’s hot dog.
“Come on, my lunch hour is half-way gone!” the customer said, not caring about the situation.
The hot dog guy squeezed the mustard and as if it was symbolic, let the tears go and sobbed. The mustard squirted everywhere, I got some on my shoes. But the customer got the brunt of it, looked down on his suit and cursed at us, then walked away in fury.
I didn’t mind about the mustard. If anything, it would be an improvement over my cheap flat shoes.
You see, there is no progress without discord. There are always two sides, competing. There are always breakups and fights. It’s how we move on.
I looked up Harmony’s social profile. She posted a selfie of her on the train. She commented that she was moving back to her hometown, away from the ugly city. She had made a new friend, a girl that was sitting next to her on the train. They had taken the picture together, just like Harmony and I did so many times.
That stung a little.
I picked up a whole crate of fake-apples from Abigail. She had painted them glistening gold, they were perfect. Ryan liked the idea a lot, so everyone was happy.
Ryan replaced the ‘BadNews’ logos and the stickers in his office with ‘Heartbreaker.’ As of that day, I was the fourth member of the startup.
I also looked up the Cretan scary guy. He had a rather active social account with guns. He posted a picture of him in the gun range, a sexy and voluptuous girl at his side while he held up a rifle. “Met my new #bae today, #happy,” followed by gun emoticons.
Well, he got over Lily easily.
Some people might profit from the fighting and the breakups. But can you really blame them? Blame us? Is it really that bad in the end? Through change, comes life. And life, is all that we have in this world.
End of Episode 1
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Eris has plenty more troubles to get into, and plenty of breakups to deliver.
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Wanna break up? There's an app for that. Dexter meets Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce in this snarky black comedy that follows Eris as she toys with people's lives. When 25 year-old Eris gets fired from her minimum-wage job, she stumbles on her friend's startup which outsources bad news to people. But will she manage to keep her friendships intact when she finds out she's very good at delivering breakups, when demand is really picking up and when the recipients don't take to the news too kindly? Inspired by the Greek Goddess of discord Eris and by today's app services obsession.