‘I think we’re done,’ the book says.
‘Are you leaving?’
‘I think so, yes.’
‘So you’re going then?’
‘Yes. I don’t know. Probably. For now.’
The book has its back to me, scanning my non-fiction shelves for something to read. I can tell that it is serious. It picks up a book about suffering, scans the back page blurb and puts it back.
Outside there is a very fat great tit warming its throat in the branch above the bird feeder (I checked). ‘So, what do you think?’ the book says.
‘I think I hate it when you begin sentences with ‘So’. You’re so much better than that.’
‘Arf,’ says the book. ‘Seriously, what do you think?’
‘Is this really the best time?’ I say, hoping to evade things a bit longer. ‘I mean I’ve a lot on, family, you know. Plus there’s the rugby later. You never get any change out of me during the rugby.’
The book lets out a great sigh. ‘Just tell me,’ it begins. ‘Just tell me what you think. If you want to go on working with me. I need to know.’
‘I think…’ And I stop for a moment, scanning the back of the book, noticing the way it is holding itself with one hand on its chin and the other tucked under its arm, like a slip fielder. ‘I don’t think we are done.’ The great tit has been joined by another; together they make a noise that is like rinsed light. ‘I don’t think we are done,’ I say again. ‘Don’t ask me why, I just do. I don’t know what’s coming next, or what we do about it. But that is where we are. That’s all.’
The book gives another sigh. It still has its back to me. ”We’, you said. You said ‘we’.’
‘Of course,’ I say. ‘Who else am I working with?’
‘So that’s what you think? You think there’s still mileage?’
‘I do, yes. I honestly do,’ I say. ‘And stop saying ‘so’.’
‘And stop apologising.’
‘I mean it.’
‘Fine.’ The book pulls another volume off my shelf. ‘Can I borrow this book on creativity? It looks like you’ve not touched it.’
‘Course you can. I’d be interested to know what you think. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of our work.’
‘Jealous,’ the book says.
‘No more than you.’
‘I’ll let you know what I think,’ the book says.
‘About the book?’
‘You mean our book.’
‘Our book, yes.’
Neither of us moves.