I was frying eggs in the kitchen when the phone rang, just before six on a Friday afternoon. I had grabbed a beer from the fridge, not knowing if there’d be a second, and was in good mood, I suppose, whistling along to Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. I turned the stove of and walked into the bedroom.
„This question might surprise you,“ the person on the phone said without introducing herself, „but I need to know how honest you really are.“
By strict definition this wasn’t a question – a question put the verb in front of the pronoun and ended with a question mark: How honest are you? But that was probably not the heart of the matter.
„How honest I am? Rather honest, I suppose. Not that it’s any of your business, honestly.“
Gallup, great. They’d been calling me incessantly since I moved in and it was starting to get to me. Maybe I wasn’t used to having my opinions appraised by others, but still, I’d had enough. What were these surveys worth anyway if they always called the same people?
„Listen, I really don’t have time for this,“ I said. „I was just frying eggs in the kitchen.“
I was going to add, goodbye, but the Woman on the Phone interrupted me.
„Where else would you? What I mean is: what are the odds of you frying your eggs some place else than the kitchen?“
Metaphysics freak, great. I had heard these companies were short of people but still thought they should take more care in who they hired. Wasn’t Gallup one of the largest companies in its field?
„I really don’t have time for this,“ I said and felt like the good mood would end up in the sink, along with the eggs, if I wouldn’t soon be free of this woman. „And if you’d be kind enough to remove me from your list, that would be great.“
„Unfortunately that’s not an option, Tomas.“
Tomas. She might as well have casually caressed my genitals as addressed me by name in that way. Your name simply wasn’t within the communication frame available to Gallup.
I hung up.
Two minutes later the phone rang again.
„You hung up on me. That’s an honest answer, of sorts. But I have to tell you that I’m really hurt that you should treat me this way. I did not expect that, when I wrote the letter.“
The letter, Christ. This must be one of the freaks that had written about the room.
„If this is about the room I’m sorry to tell you that it’s already let.“ The truth was that I had decided not the let out the room, but that really wasn’t anybody’s business but my own.
„I really had great hopes for this relationship. That’s something you should think about when you get involved with other people. There will be consequences. You can’t just walk away like there’s nothing to it, like there are no feelings at stake.“
What was this woman on about? I was afraid that if I didn’t get rid of her right away I’d be stuck with her for a long time.
„There are no feelings at stake. The room’s been let, I’m being as honest as I possibly can be and now I’m asking you to stop calling me.“
„You can’t just walk away from what’s already happened. If you go trough life that way you’ll never be able to live with yourself.“
This was hopeless. I pulled the receiver away from my ear and stared into this little space that contained all the potential nutcases of the world, and listened till I’d had enough.
Tomas is a young university student who has just moved from a small town to the city. He spends his days drinking coffee and reading and is relatively happy with his solitude until one day the beautiful but strange Saiko barges into his life. Half Japanese – half Icelandic Saiko is larger than life and such a mystery that not even she knows the answer. Saiko introduces Tomas to the taste of whisky, the works of Haruki Murakami and the world of the leg model. But Saiko is haunted by terrible nightmares and the enigma reaches its peak when she disappears. Tomas sets out to find her and the lines of reality start to blur. In this fast-paced yet lyrical novel of love and loss, everyday life in contemporary Reykjavik collides with a world where girls can read minds, brainpower is for rent and Workers hunt the Dreamers for their inspirations.
About the author
Sölvi Björn Sigurðsson (b. Oct. 7, 1978) is an Icelandic novelist and poet. His second novel, Floating World was published in 2006 by Edda Publishing.