My Own Dear Brother ARRIVES!
At the deliveryman’s knock I thunder downstairs. I follow him out to the back of his lorry to help with the boxes. Unsmiling, he hands them down to me. There are four and they’re heavy.
‘It’s books,’ I say to him, grinning, unable to hide my excitement. ‘My book – that I wrote.’ Sixty hardbacks of MY OWN DEAR BROTHER to sell at the launch party.
‘Are you a teacher or a lecturer, or something?’ he asks, deadpan, standing in the doorway as I deposit the boxes in my hall.
‘No, a writer.’
‘Sign here, please.’
I manage a deformed squiggle. My hands are shaking slightly. ‘It’s my first novel.’
‘Oh, yeah?’ His face splits into a wide grin. ‘What’s it called?’
‘My Own Dear Brother.’
‘What kind of book?’
‘Historical fiction, set just after WW2.’
‘Is it?’ He’s beaming. He looks about twenty years younger. He gets out his pen to write down the title. ‘Where can I buy one, then?’
I tell him. We chat for a bit about what it’s like to write a book; he’s very curious. After a few minutes, he shakes my hand, wishes me luck, and hops into his lorry.
Lots of people react like this when I tell them about my novel being published. It always surprises me. It always feels great.
I shut the door and survey the stack of boxes barricading the foot of my stairs. My heart’s kicking; I feel a bit high. What if I don’t like it? Nervously, I think of all the copies stacked in the warehouse, waiting to be distributed. I decide to hang on till my partner gets home. It feels only right to share it with him; he’s been involved since the start and deserves to be part of the pay-off. But secretly, I also want moral support. Somehow, I distract myself until his key scratches in the lock.
Together, we slit the boxes, lift out the protective packing. Something glints: the title, MY OWN DEAR BROTHER, written in gold. The dust jacket is smooth under my fingers; the spine creaks as it opens. There is the fresh scent of glue.
We put it on the tabletop; we stand it upright, take off the dust jacket to admire the white and gold hardback beneath.
‘That’s a bit nice,’ he whispers.
No matter how much I stare, it remains disembodied from me. A magical object – complete.
‘Well,’ I say, dazed – bedazzled. I have the confusing sensation of both ending and beginning.
I go to get the LIDLs £4.50 cava from the fridge. This warrants lavish celebration.