It was the first day in weeks without a pressing deadline looming. Dolores had taken the sock yarn down to the Art Institute for the Charles Sheeler exhibit. The laundry was finished, the dishes clean, and no visitors were expected. I poured a tall glass of milk, neat, and curled up on the sofa under an old plaid blanket and cracked open a fresh new arrival, Cecil Beaton's unexpurgated diaries.
"Ahem," said the Spinning Wheel.
I dropped the book and covered my eyes with my hands, uttering an oath unfit for delicate ears.
"Well, excuse me for breathing," said the Spinning Wheel.
"Would it be too much to ask," I sighed, "for one lousy day free of Magic Realism?"
"I just work here," said the Spinning Wheel. "Or rather, I just sit here, which is the root of the matter."
"Maybe you could go complain to the vacuum cleaner. He doesn't get out enough either."
"So I've noticed," said the Wheel. "But I do not wish to discuss the state of your housekeeping. Instead, pray observe my bobbin." It walked over to the sofa and leaned forward. "You will notice, please, that the red leader is still visible. This is the same red leader tied upon the bobbin by Mr. Ted Myatt when he visited."
"Mr. Myatt's memorable stay took place in high summer. If you will look outside, you will notice the trees are bare of leaves and the wind blows cold. Summer is but a memory. Fall is more than half-spent. The Feast of Saint Lucy fast approaches."
"You want me to make cookies?"
"I want to you realize that since I had the all-too-brief pleasure of being oiled and caressed by Mr. Myatt's capable hands, I've sat here untouched and untreadled. You have well-nigh twenty pounds of lovely roving and top sitting in a storage bin, and yet I am less regarded than the magazine rack in the bathroom."
"What has the magazine rack been telling you?"
"Don't change the subject," said the Wheel, sternly. "Are you ever going to use me again, or are you not?"
"Well, you know, it's been so busy at work and there was the Knit-In and everything, and–"
"Prevarication ill becomes you."
"I'll spin a little bit tonight."
"Tonight won't do. I think I've waited long enough. Either you show me some attention right this minute, or I'm reporting you to Merike Saarnit."
"Just let me finish this chapter."
"Do you want me to put this orifice hook to uses never intended by the nice people at Ashford?"
"Fine, okay, swell, whatever, let me go get some roving." I heaved myself off the sofa and headed for the bedroom closet.
"I want the merino from Rabbitch!" screamed the Wheel. "Don't even come near me with that cheap mixed-breed shit you got free from eBay."
I remember sitting down with the merino, and giving the treadle a tentative push. And then things began to spin, faster and faster. The room blurred. Dizziness struck, hard. I felt as though I were falling...spinning...downward...as the Wheel whined for more...more...more...
I blacked out.
And then all at once I woke up with a start, flat on my back in bed. Dolores and Harry were bending over me as my eyes fluttered open.
"He's alive!" shouted Harry.
"Oh, thank goodness," I sighed. "Dolores, I had the most ridiculous dream. The spinning wheel...it...came to life...it was...talking..."
"Totally whacked, man" said Harry.
"Yeah," said Dolores. "That's a good one. You musta had something spicy for lunch again, right?"
"That must be it," I agreed.
"You'll never learn. I'll go fetch the Peptol Bismol," she said. "You go put your feet up and Harry will get you a hot water bottle."
"Much obliged," I said, and toddled into the living room.
And...there it was.