The book has had a fall, and now we are sitting in a waiting room, waiting to be seen. This wasn’t part of the plan.
The book alternates between lolling listlessly, flicking at magazines, and pacing around the room, pointing at the posters on the wall. ‘Look!’ it shouts. ‘Here’s one about smoking!’
Everyone in the room lifts their heads to stare at the book, unsure of what to make of it. I bury my head in my hands.
Eventually it comes back, sliding into the seat next to me without meeting my eyes.
‘Did you know,’ the book says, ‘jackdaws mate for life. It says so here.’ The book jabs the magazine under my nose, to make sure I can see it. ‘Incredible.’
Eventually our names are called. We are shown into a tiny room, barely bigger than a bed. There are two chairs. A nurse sits tapping at a computer. She spins round and examines the book, all the while asking it questions: when the accident happened, did it black out, did it see shining stars, did it vomit at all?
Her calmness is in marked contrast to the nervousness of the book, who I notice is now breaking out in a sweat. I have wasted a large amount of my day, but find myself offering my hand to the book. I have never done this before.
The book grabs at it, kneading my fingers with its own while the nurse peers into its eyes with a small torch.
Suddenly we are done. ‘You’ll live,’ the nurse says, not looking at me. ‘Just take some painkillers for the headaches, and don’t play any rugby this weekend.’
‘Thank you,’ mutters the book. ‘I wasn’t planning to.’
On the way home in the car a silence descends. The book is looking out of the window, its shoulder tilted away from me. Some jackdaws are building a nest in the topmost branches of a nearby tree. They bounce and balance with precariousness then the utmost precision as they insert the twigs from their beaks into the growing structure.
‘Beautiful…’ the book murmurs. ‘Just think…for life…’