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‘What are you doing?’ I say.

‘What does it look like?’ the book says.

‘It looks like you are tearing up bits of paper,’ I say. ‘Paper that I have written on, paper I was keeping.’

‘What this?’ the book says. ‘You weren’t saving it, were you? It’s a bit late now,’ it says, pausing for a moment.

‘It looks like my book,’ I say. ‘Was it my book?’

‘What, this?’ the book says. ‘It might have been.’

I snatch the remaining sheaf of paper from the book’s hand. ‘I had hoped I could trust you,’ I say.

‘You can trust me,’ the book says. ‘I’m doing you a favour. You’ll thank me in the long run.’

I look down at the paper in my hands. There is my handwriting, with weird scribbled notes and crossings out. Some pages are just arrows and boxes. I have no memory of writing a word of it.

‘What is it?’ the book says, looking worried.

‘Nothing,’ I say.

‘It doesn’t look like nothing,’ the book says.

I look down again at my writing. ‘I had just hoped,’ I begin, ‘that it would be more impressive. I wanted to impress you, and I haven’t.’ I look at the book. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘Nothing to be sorry about,’ the book says. ‘How about we just stopped? I just stopped, I mean. We can cut our losses, put what’s still left in a drawer, and just carry on another time. With some actual writing. If that’s what you would like?’

‘You take them,’ I say, handing the book the sheaves. ‘Do your worst. You were right.’

‘I’ll put them in the drawer, that would be best,’ the book says. ‘Put them in a drawer.’

The book hands me back the sheaves, but I do not take them. I look down at my hands.