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‘Was it good?’ the book says.

‘Was what good?’

‘What you’ve been up to,’ the book says.

‘When?’

‘You know when. While-you’ve-been-away-when,’ the book says.

‘I haven’t been away. I’ve been here all the time.’

‘It didn’t feel like it.’

‘Actually, I was working.’

‘Is that what you call it now?’ the book says.

‘Working. Of course. What are you saying?’

‘Nothing,’ the book says.

‘Balls.’

‘Excuses.’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Excuses. Using work as an excuse. The oldest excuse of them all.’

‘But I was.’

‘Oh I know you were,’ the book says.

‘Why did you ask then?’

‘To see if you knew. Did you get much done? Were you productive?’

‘Very productive, actually. Got tons done. Plus I had a reading.’

‘Oh, a reading. A reading. In front of people! Was it nice?’

‘It was lovely.’

‘And while you were doing all this, this work, did you actually spend any time thinking about when you might return to your real work, the work that matters?’

‘Like what?’ I say.

‘You know what,’ the book says. ‘This. Here. With me.’

‘You said we were done,’ I say.

‘I did say that, yes. But we’re not done, not really, are we? I mean, we might be done. We might be. But we will never be done. Not really.’

‘You think so?’

‘I know so. If it’s not me, it’ll be someone else.’

‘What?’

‘Another project. Something. Whatever. You have to keep moving.’

‘But won’t you be sad to go?’ I say.

‘Heartbroken. As they say, it’s been real.’

‘Are you going?’ I say.

‘No, not yet. But one day I will, yes.’

‘Will it be soon?’

‘I’m not sure. It might be. It depends on you. There’s some tiny things still to do.’

‘And after that?’

‘Then I’ll go, yes,’ the book says.

‘Will you say goodbye?’

‘I expect so. But you can never know. I may just go.’

‘Please don’t go,’ I say.

‘I have to,’ the book says. ‘It’s what you made me for.’