The launch is in five days. I’m counting down.
There are moments now, frogskin-shiny and sharp as the spines of a picket fence, when I look up from whatever it is I’m doing and realise, This is real. This is not some borrowed life, the dream I dreamed with my tired face droolside down on a history desk, my lap full of edited pages instead of homework, ready to pop like a soapbubble with the prod of a pen or a question about Trotsky. Here I am. I made this happen – with help, and time, and work, and luck; with much more than a thousand thousand thimblespoons of luck. The book I see on the bedside table is mine, glossy and blue-black-shelled as a Christmas beetle. It is nearly my birthday. Soon, I will be twenty-four, and this book – Solace & Grief – will still have my name on the cover. That much, I have earned.
Is there any miracle greater and more terrifying than to be given what you want, or a shot at it? I don’t know. Right now, my eyes are a cloud of sleeplessness. My fingers move and the words come scratching out, each stab downwards like the jut of a wormhungry birdbeak; and I remember older nights where my heart felt so squeezed in around itself, so solid and dense as to hang in the chest-space like a black hole, nights when it never seemed like this could happen. Part of me has been waiting for the rug to be whipped out from under my boots. But it hasn’t twitched. I’m still here. Still moving forwards.
One day, I will look back. One day. Many days. I will look back, and remember this.