The other book

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I am minding my own business, gazing out of the window, when the book appears. It looks as though it has been up all night watching boxing.

‘I hear you’re writing a book.’

‘You know I am.’

‘A different book.’

‘Who told you?’

‘Are you?’

‘Might be.’

‘Is it true?’

‘It might be.’

‘So you don’t deny it then?’

‘What is this, the Today programme?’

The book begins pacing around the room, muttering to itself. It picks up random objects from the shelves and desk and puts them back down in places they do not belong. Then it starts on the books. ‘Are you ever going to read this?’ it says, thrusting a book about landscape towards me.

‘I’ve been looking for that,’ I say.

‘Mind if I borrow it?’

‘I was saving it up,’ I say. ‘For later.’

‘That’s your problem,’ the book says. ‘There’s always tomorrow. Which as we know, never arrives.’

‘Can we talk about this another time?’

‘Procrastinator,’ the book says.

I make my way across the room to where the book is standing. I stand behind it for a moment, then lower my forehead till it is resting on the shoulder of the book. I wrap my arms around the book and notice how thin it feels. After a moment or two the book flexes its arms so that it can clasp my own, gripping them tightly. I can’t be sure, but the book has started to cry.

‘There have to be other books,’ I say. ‘That is the deal. Which you knew when we began working together.’ I give the book a kiss on its shoulder.

‘I know,’ the book sniffs. ‘I know. I just didn’t think you’d actually get round to it. I’m pleased for you. Really.’

‘We could do some work now if you wanted.’

‘Not really,’ the book says. ‘I’m a little tired. It’s been a long day.’

‘Another time then.’

‘Yes. Another time. That would be good.’

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