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As The Bullwheel Turns

G.D. Maxwell's head of the line contribution to the Collective Novel experience.



"Well," thought Diana, groggily, "at least he had the decency to leave while I pretended to be asleep."

She rolled over into the fading warmth left behind by Dan or Dave or whatever his name was and let the lingering scent of too-masculine men’s perfume tease scattered details of the previous evening’s events through the tequila and champagne fog of her mind.

The details, such as they were, came in staccato bursts, nouns tapped out over a tenuous, synaptic telegraph line. Birthday… party… Bill’s… Garf’s… Cuervo… the Twins… Tommy’s… Veuve Clicquot… coke… Dan, no, Dave, no… dammit, what was his name?

She lay in bed, the light of false dawn gently seeping through her east-facing, uncurtained window. Closing her eyes tightly, she willed the bottle of Tylenol out of the medicine cabinet, across the room and onto her bedside table, right next to the glass of water she’d forgotten to bring to bed and had spent the past forty-five minutes trying to will out of the kitchen. "If whatzhisname had really been such a nice guy he’da gotten ’em for me on his way out," she mused.

The Varied thrush’s metallic buzz and tortured screams of Steller’s jays announced the growing light of a perfect spring morning. Spring was her favourite time of year and this – crevassed skull notwithstanding – was her favourite time of day. She favoured spring not because it brought the two-edged blessing of her birthday but because of its frenzy of mixed messages. It was the poetic rebirth of life that inspired such great literature but was, for her, more closely associated with the beginning of the end of her own life-shaping forces. Ski season – a misnomer since ski season had been snowboard season for her since she was old enough to throw a monumental hissy fit and finally make her stubborn father give up on his dream of a ski racer daughter – entered its autumn in spring. School began its slow grind to a richly-deserved, eagerly-anticipated, stifled climax. And at least in Whistler, the season of birth was laced with the irony of death and decay as leaf mould, ancient dog shit and the detritus of the forest floor was uncovered by melting snow, warmed by nascent sun and allowed to make its annual contribution to global warming in a riot of disgusting smells.

"Beebeebeebeebeebee… beebeebeebeebeebee…" Christ! The sound of the alarm – she’d set an alarm? – and phone going off at the same time damn near made her wet the bed. It took a second or two for her doubled heartbeat to pump a tsunami of blood and accompanying pain into her skull. She slammed her hand down on the alarm button, grabbed her temples and winced, certain that grey matter was oozing out both ears. Tears squeezed from the corners of both eyes and she suddenly became aware of an awful, metallic taste on the fur coating of her tongue. "Fuuuuc…" she couldn’t complete the curse, the effort of actually speaking having cleaved the hemispheres of whatever was left of her brain.