The lullaby

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I have not left the house in days. I can hear the book pacing around upstairs, but neither of us is prepared to make the first move and open up discussions about how we are going to proceed.

I decide to make a fire. It is a filthy day, I tell myself: I deserve this. Before long, I can hear it padding down the stairs. Without being invited, it pops its head around the door, takes a quick look at what I am doing, then pops out again.

Some time later it re-emerges carrying a tray of goodies. There is a fresh pot of tea, some cheese and a cheese slice, and, best of all, some freshly buttered crumpets. There are even a couple of satsumas for afters.

The book spreads everything out on the coffee table and passes me things in silence, anticipating my needs before I know them myself. The log burner blazes and the wind moans. We sit munching and slurping, nodding in silent appreciation of the food.

I spread myself out on the sofa, suddenly tired.

Again without a word, the book fetches a rug and covers me with it just as my eyelids begin to close. It props itself up next to me, knees around its chin, and begins to stroke my forehead. It begins humming to itself a forlorn sounding lullaby, at first quietly, then, growing louder, using words I have not heard before, very likely from another language.

By the time I wake up the room is dark and the burner a faint glow. The book is nowhere to be seen.

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