In A Spin

"Lunch?" asked Kelly, peering around the open door of Sheila's office. Sheila glanced at her wristwatch. "Good Lord, is it noon already?" She grabbed her purse from the desk drawer. "I'll have to take a raincheck. It's my mother's birthday today and I still haven't picked up a gift for her yet!"

"You're constantly in a spin, girl," laughed Kelly. "It amazes me how you're so organized when it comes to work and such a scatter­brain when it comes to your personal life!" Sheila shrugged and rolled her eyes. "Some things defy explanation."

Munching on a hot dog, Sheila hurried along Knightsbridge toward Harrods. Normally, she used one of the side entrances which had regular hinged doors...she didn't like the revolving affair which led from the street to the main departments. It reminded her of leaping into the middle of a skipping rope while it was turning. She'd never been very good at that and had always managed to get tangled up, which brought exasperated sighs and groans of disappointment from her friends when she had been a small girl.

This day, however, she didn't have time to go halfway down a city block just to find an alternative way in, so she gritted her teeth, tucked her purse under her arm, and trusted to luck.

"Made it," she breathed as she slid, with no trouble at all, into one of the quartered segments. Of course, the fact it hadn't been moving made it a lot easier. She pushed but, after a few inches, the door refused to budge any further. In front of her, she noticed a woman struggling with a baby stroller whose wheels had become caught. There was nothing she could do but wait until the young mother wrenched it free. "Finally," she murmured as the door shifted once more.

Nervously, Sheila eyed the interior of the store and made ready to spring through the opening. Just about to give it her best shot, she was suddenly whirled straight past. She quickly repositioned her feet, almost losing her balance, and received a rather nasty knock in the midriff from the hand rail.

"What the...?" muttered Sheila as she heard the sound of stifled giggling. Two small boys waved at her from the street. Obviously, they had sped up the door at the point when she was about to exit. She shook her head, but couldn't help laughing. Boys will be boys! Her own little brother was living proof of that.

"Next time," she thought to herself, but an overweight man wearing a bowler hat and carrying a rolled-up umbrella squeezed in behind her, pushing her against the glass. She tried to make it out before him, but failed miserably. By the time he'd vanished into the crowded store, Sheila was on her third or fourth rotation. Her feet had begun to move quite rapidly now, whether of their own accord or because the revolutions had grown independently faster, Sheila couldn't tell.

"Keep calm," she said out loud. "Just slow down a bit and then you'll be able to get out." But it didn't happen that way. People had stopped trying to enter or exit through the revolving door and simply stood gaping as she pivoted around. Sheila now needed both hands on the rail just to keep from falling. Her purse tumbled to the ground and she hoped it would wedge somewhere and bring the sickening merry-go-round to a halt, but it flew into the middle of the crowd. Sheila tried to shout, "Thank you," as a teenager picked it up and held onto it for her.

Unable to keep up with the ever-increasing pace, Sheila maneuvered the sides of her shoes over the chrome strips at the bottom of the door and continued to cling to the rail. She imagined she must look very much like an incompetent water-skier to the onlookers, with her legs straddled and the knuckles of her hands white with panicked gripping. The thought delivered an hysterical cackle to her lips.

All business in the store had ceased. Sheila could see the salesgirls pointing, but they were little more than a streaking smudge of black skirts and white blouses. One of them held up a sign. She concentrated very hard on trying to read it.


The effort made her feel sick and she closed her eyes. When she opened them again, it was impossible to discern anything at all. She remembered once seeing a chalk picture drawn on the sidewalk. It looked exactly like this when it had started to rain. What had been tangible shapes blending and merging into one another, until it was all little more than a senseless blur of colors. Her arms were quivering from the strain of holding on and her legs felt numb.

"Well," said Sheila to herself, amazingly composed given the circumstances, "if it gets much faster than this, I won't have to hold on at all, the centrifugal force alone will keep me upright." For some reason, the idea of that was strangely comforting and she realized she was giggling.

It was dark outside now. Sheila had no idea how long she'd been spinning, but assumed she'd probably missed her mother's birthday party. She imagined the fire department would arrive soon...or maybe they already had and decided there was nothing they could do.

Either way, it didn't seem to matter very much any more.

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