An excerpt from Spinning

    From deep sleep, I heard the noise again, was unable to place it in my dream, and ran my fingers along the sheet in search of Laurel. The sound came again. It took several seconds for me to recognize it as knocking on the front door.

    “Do you hear that?” I said, rolling over, hoping to glimpse Laurel’s magnificent body another time. She was gone. “Laurel?” I sat up. Still naked, I grabbed my robe and walked into the other room. It was dark and quiet. Laurel’s clothes were gone.

    Three more knocks came from the door.

    “Just a second.” It was almost 3:00 a.m. and everyone I knew should have been in bed – for one reason or another.

It’s Laurel, I thought. She left her panties under the coffee table or something like that.

    “Coming,” I said. I checked the peephole and the image on the other side made me forget where I was. I opened the door.

    “Dylan!”

    A woman in pink, orange and yellow stood there, with her arms extended. My eyes hadn’t adjusted to the light yet – or the bright colors.

    I squinted. “Diane?”

    “Dylan!”

    Just then, a head poked out from behind Diane and looked up at me. It was a little girl.

    All the air left my body.

    “Diane,” I said again, having suddenly lost access to all other vocabulary.

    It wasn’t Laurel returning for more, or to retrieve something that she’d left behind. Seeing Diane’s black wavy hair and gray eyes took me back a few years to a Chicago hotel room off Lake Shore overlooking the Odyssey cruising Lake Michigan. That had been a remarkable handful of days.

    “Dylan!”

    The conversation was obviously taking a little while to develop. It was understandable, considering the circumstances. Diane Sommers from Chicago and a lifetime ago was standing at my door at 3:00 a.m., extending her arms and waiting for a hug.

    Pulling her close, the memories of her perfume, her bright colors, her smile and her touch began to connect the dots until completing my vague recollection of the past. We’d worked head-to-head on the marketing campaign all day, wrapping ourselves in each other all night. 

    I began to pull back, but Diane continued to hold me. Focusing neither on the drab hallway nor the bead of sweat forming on the back of my neck, I called to mind the lines in her face – friendly, familiar, and yet foreign.

    “Is everything all right?” I said, offering another squeeze when she refused to let me go.

    “It’s good to see you.”

    I had momentarily blanked out the fact that she had a kid with her. When Diane finally loosened her grip, I tightened the belt of my robe, conscious of little eyes staring up from our feet.

    “Diane, it’s great to see you. I wish I had known you were coming. I would have waited up or at least put some clothes on.”

    “Oh, Dylan.”

    She smiled, reminding me of the reason that we’d gotten together in the first place. Everything about Diane had always seemed bright to me.

    I looked down for the kid, but she had carefully hidden behind her mother. A second later, the little girl poked her head out. She seemed tired, but she still had the energy to muster a look of discernment – either that, or she had to use the bathroom.

    “Hi?” I said.

    Diane knelt down to the girl. “This is Spring.”

    I nearly followed Diane’s crouch, then remembered my robe.

    “And Spring, this is Mr. Dylan.”

    “Hi, Spring.”

    Spring was dressed in a yellow raincoat and red boots. She had the same wavy black hair and gray eyes as Diane. She didn’t say anything, but she seemed fascinated with my bare feet.

    Diane stood back up. “Is this a bad time…?”

    “No, no. Come in. Let me help you with your bag.”

    Spring shook her head.

    Though Diane’s arrival time was just a tiny bit strange, it was as good a time as any – especially since Laurel had already pulled a Houdini. I picked up Diane’s single piece of luggage; a brown relic, featuring ancient travel stickers that had to be at least 30 years old. Spring toted a red backpack over her raincoat. The backpack had a duck wearing boots stitched on it. “Is it raining outside?”

    Again, Spring shook her head.

    “Good,” I said. Who said I couldn’t make small talk with a kid?

    She raised an eyebrow in my direction and I followed her inside.

    “What brings you to New York at this hour?”

    Diane stood there, with her suitcase at her feet. My eyes began to focus on the situation around me: the whole Laurel thing seemed like day-old bread and today’s menu featured an Indian recipe I couldn’t pronounce.

    “This is a bad time,” Diane said. “We should leave.”

    “No, no, not at all…really. I get people dropping in at this hour all the time. Would you like some wine? A cup of coffee? I have Kona.”