Eyes closed, I was cruising on the treadmill next to the track, working up a sweat.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” I turned and smiled. He continued, “I’ve been coming here for eleven years. I’m Charles …”
“Hi, Charles, nice to meet you. I’m Suanne.”
Attila, my trainer, strolled up to the treadmill, nodded to Charles. “How ya doing?”
Charles gave me a sly look, murmured, “See you later, sweetheart,” and moved off, keeping to the inner lane. He’d be back around soon enough.
Attila waved the clipboard with my “lesson plan” for the day. Smirking he asked, “Are you ready to rumble?”
The answer was “no”, but I sucked it back.
If I wasn’t careful, he’d smell the fear. He’d know, know, I’d skipped a couple days. Editing, I’d moan. Working. There’s this book, you see … It’s erotica.
A couple weeks ago, I might have distracted Attila, but not now. He had endurance and pain writ on his stern face, words that would be echoed by my abs and thighs and shoulders.
I padded sullenly through the maze of modern metal sculptures, tributes to hard bodies and sweat-drenched egos. I kept an eye peeled for Charles. I smirked at bouncing boobs as a blond gym-rat teased past with every male eye spiraling in morbid fascination. I surreptitiously made a few adjustments to my outfit, then climbed onto the indicated device, a cunning Atlas Shrugged monstrosity to lift and bend, grunt, repeat.
Charles shuffled past, then the blonde. She had a word with Charles. I lost my count.
“Start over.” Attila scribbled on the sheet.
“How much weight did you add?” I could barely hear my squeak over the popping of tendons in my shoulder.
Attila grinned, lopsided, attention split between me and the track.
Blondie headed for the ladies’ locker and Charles continued his circuit, on cool-down now.
“Can we do adductors next?” Attila piled on a hundred-sixty while I caressed the pads with my inner thighs.
“You’re working this little gal too hard, Bob, dontcha think?”
“Hey Charles, just getting her warmed up for you.”
“Now, don’t you go and tease me.” His pale blue eyes crinkled with mirth as I huffed through twenty reps. Charles patted my knee and moved off. “One more, girl.”
I watched him as I licked the sweat off my upper lip and pressed inward, groaning.
Curious, I grunted, “He said he’s been coming here eleven years.”
I lunged off the plastic seat, my legs wobbly.
“He’s one of our founding members.” Attila made another note, then smiled. “Good job today. See you next week.”
I bent over, stretching my back.
“Can’t do that anymore, girl.” Charles laughed. “Eighty-seven this year. Got Parkinson’s. That’s why I need the walker.”
“Well, you’re doing great.”
“Thank you kindly. Now, you have yourself a good day. I’ll see you next time.”
I watched him shuffle away, then murmured softly, “You, too, Charles.”
I exited into a downpour, carrying a ray of sunshine and a smile in my pocket.
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