TOC page here.
One more little bit before we end the act. A little domesticity, and a dream.
Three hours later, Diana walked in the front door of her townhouse, took off her shoes, knelt and then lay down on the terrazzo floor of the entryway. Silence and darkness, exactly what she wanted: no Grace, no Fiona, just Frey the cat, who headed over, licked the back of her neck, lay down next to her.
She might have fallen asleep for a moment, but then with a groan leveraged herself into a crawl. She fancied crawling into the kitchen, but the repaired knee and the hard floor were a bad match. She walked to the refrigerator, which was empty but for a bottle of wine, some condiments, and Grace’s vegan loaf leftovers. She took out the wine, shook her head, put it back, poured a glass of water, flopped on the couch in the dark, followed by Frey.
She thought she’d slept, but soon realized this was a lucid, waking dream, of the dorm hallway at Georgia Tech, twenty-five years before: long and narrow, drabness punctuated by brightly-decorated doors. This was from before Andrew, when a Diana hitherto confident only in her math and science skills had begun to sort out her self-esteem in other areas. There was a door with a plush doll of Buzz the anthropomorphic hornet mascot taped to it, and behind that door was a boy she… If only the peephole through the door allowed her to look in instead of just him to look out.
There was something right behind the tip of her mind, something seemingly tangential but actually critical, maybe to the case, maybe to herself. She’d learned to let the flow of these dreams take her where they wanted to go, so she moved down the hallway, looking at the artwork on doors. Football players, the girl from Weird Science, a dot-matrix printout of a caffeine molecule… and the fourth door had a picture of Gaia, the one from the Woody Allen movie, with the flowers in her hair. Her own stepmother, Fiona’s mother, a sharp country girl plucked by a talent scout from a church choir and transformed into the fresh face of Hollywood circa 1974. She taken a four-year-old Diana and shown her with having a mom was like: she taught Diana how to shoot, how do fractions, how to tell history from myth. If this was really 1987 in the dream, Gaia was five or six years dead by this point, via a plane crash in the mountains, leaving Diana much wealth and more loneliness, and Fiona still more of each.
In the dream, she stood looking at the door, knowing the boy behind it was out of her league, knowing he didn’t know how well she had known Gaia.
So we get to see Diana alone, the way she likes it, with nothing in the house but her memories. Remember that much of this novel is about uncovering her own past, now that her ex-husband is moving on to another wife and another life. So we get another piece of deep background on her: that her stepmother, and Fiona’s mother, was a movie star, and a real influence in Diana’s life—and also and not incidentally, something of a trump card for her. You can just bet this will come up later.