A Great Writer

Is entertaining a friend at her home when there is a knock at the door. It turns out to be a delivery: her latest book is back from the printers. The friend, far younger than she is and not particularly bright, is anxious to get the box open. He keeps exclaiming at the size of the package and all the books that there must be inside. The great writer is reluctant to open the box as she’d much rather go through the book later, when she’s alone. The delivery of a new book from the printers is an event filled with trepidation: she has learned over time that mistakes are inevitable. One hopes that they will be minor – the odd missed comma or extra space between words – but occasionally there is a gross, unpardonable error that will inevitably sour the relationship between herself and the publisher, making things especially awkward when the editor is a friend, as is the case in this instance. Her companion, however, begs and pleads like a child trying to winkle an early Christmas present from his parents, and eventually the great writer gives in. He gleefully plunges towards the box and tears at it feverishly, emitting a little squeal as the first book emerges from the bubble wrap. After regarding it with a strangely ravenous look in his eyes, he passes the book to the writer and delves back into the box. His groan of disappointment confirms her worst fears:
“What is it?”
“They’ve made a mistake!”
“They’re all the same book!”

Kit Maude


we used to sing “adap- adaptation…
changes in the body to fit a location”

to remember why we can’t breathe
underwater but your fish can.

in the playground, all our bodies made tender
by play, by fingers interlocked, and your bite,

your breathmarks on my wristbone,
you wished away offences caused when

you threatened to tell everyone about me
stealing your crisps. now I mend myself

for a different you. cast my limbs just so that
I might fit more comfortably under your arm,

in the palm of a friend, when I am just so
small, hooked on and impossibly breathless,

sprouting gills in the guilt of coming to know
the impossibility of my environment.

Madeleine Pulman-Jones