I am visiting the book.
We have already been through a lot together, including the part where I killed it and left it under a bonfire in the garden, which only annoyed the neighbours.
The part where I Definitely Thought It Was The Greatest Thing I Had Ever Written. The part where The Cracks Started To Show And We Stopped Talking. The part where I Had A Moment Of Revelation Doing The Washing Up/In The Bath/Looking At The Bird Feeder/Sitting In A Meeting And Realised I Had Been Wrong All Along. The part where I Gave Up On The Book And Realised It Was Another Book Altogether.
The part where I Grieved.
The part where I Began Again.
It is sitting propped up in bed, surrounded by pillows. Nurses come and go, but do not seem to pay it much attention.
It takes me a moment, but I realise I am its only visitor.
I begin by opening my mouth in search of small talk, the weather, but think better of it.
The book is gazing into the distance, not unaware of me, but not making eye contact either.
I open my mouth again. A funny anecdote is on my lips, about the time I also spent in hospital. How noisy they are, I want to say. You never get any rest!
I think better of it, and close my mouth.
We sit in silence for a while.
Nurses come and go, the tea trolley. Sunlight makes its way around the ward, banishing memories of my frosty walk to get here. We sit in silence.
All the while the book gazes off into the distance (there cannot be much to see!), while I stare at it searching for a sign that conversation may be possible.
It is not possible, I realise. Not today.
My time is up.
I say goodbye to the book, unsure if it has heard me or not.
On the way out I ask a passing nurse if the book is OK. ‘It’s fine,’ she tells me. ‘Doesn’t make any trouble. It’s good as gold really.’
I thank her and turn to go.
‘Just one thing,’ she says. ‘You need to remember, it’s still early days. You’re not going to get much out of it for a while. You need to be patient.’