‘What will you miss most?’ the book says.
‘About what?’ I say.
‘Me,’ says the book.
‘I didn’t know you were leaving,’ I say.
‘I thought you had other plans,’ the book says.
‘You heard wrong,’ I say.
‘Still,’ the book says. ‘You know you can tell me.’
I look at the book. It is not in a good way. It needs a shower for one thing, and a good meal. ‘Where have you been sleeping?’ I say. ‘In the shed again?’
‘I popped out for a pint of milk. I may have bumped into a few of the boys,’ the book says, turning away.
‘That’s one thing I will not miss.’
‘But in general, you think you will miss me?’ the book says.
‘I don’t really see you as leaving,’ I say. ‘I tend to think of you as permanent. Whatever happens. Whatever anyone says.’
‘You really mean that?’ the book says.
‘Yes. I mean it. You may not be perfect, you may even smell a bit, but basically…’ I look at the book for a moment. It has fallen asleep, curled up on the sofa. It breathes steadily, with the uninterrupted rhythm of a child. Perhaps it is dreaming, I say to myself. More likely not. I reach for a rug to tuck the book in with, then lower the blind as I leave the room. Closing the door behind me, I spread myself out at the threshold of the door, so that no one can enter without stepping over me first. Like a dog for its master, I hear myself think. Then I too lower my eyelids and dream, the sands of which are washed away by the time morning arrives, the book nowhere to be seen.