Thursday, October 20, 2011
SHORT STORY: The Weight of the Heart by Sandie lee
The Weight of the Heart
By Sandie lee
“Three more. Two more. Come, on people,” commanded Tory, the perky fitness instructor. “Reaching your goals means pushing yourselves.”
Janet gasped as she lunged toward her out-stretched leg.
Easy for her to say, she thought. She’s not the one carrying around an extra fifty pounds. At least we’re sitting down – not so far to fall if I pass out.
Janet grunted, bent, and stretched out her fingers until they barely grasped her big toe. Sweat rolled down her face and dripped from her chin. She quickly wiped it on her shoulder as she heaved herself to the left.
“Good job, people!” Tory chimed.
Janet screamed in her head...why do I put myself through this torture? I could be sitting at home, eating my sorrows away. Oh...that’s right...I could be “eating” my resentment towards Charles for leaving me. At least, that’s what my therapist keeps telling me.
The class finally ended and Janet collapsed onto her back, panting hard. She closed her eyes and tried to bring her breathing back from race-horse-pace to normal.
“Good workout today, wouldn’t you say?”
Startled by the male voice, Janet popped up to a sitting position and looked at the man. He was gorgeous – tall dark and handsome; such a cliché but totally accurate in this case. Janet quickly glanced around to see who he was talking to, but he kept his eyes on her.
A blush spread across Janet’s face.
Just then, Kim and Shelley, the resident hot-bodies, walked past, interrupting Janet’s response.
“Hi Todd,” they chimed in unison. Todd smiled and nodded back.
“Well, I guess I’ll see you around,” he said. He turned and followed the ladies out.
Janet watched him leave.
Why would Todd make a point of talking to me?
He was so good looking, and a fireman to boot. He could have anyone he wanted.
He was probably just being nice, she reasoned.
Janet gathered her towel and water bottle and headed to the change room. The showers weren’t full but her own self-consciousness won’t let her disrobe in front of the other women. Instead, she grabbed her gym bag, flung open the door and zigzagged her way around the equipment toward the front exit.
Suddenly she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned and to her surprise it was Todd.
“Hey. I’m glad I caught you,” he smiled brightly. “Would you like to join me for a fruit smoothie at the juice bar?”
Janet’s mind raced. Was this really happening?
“My treat” he coaxed.
“Okay...sure,” was all she managed to sputter out.
They walked together to the sitting area and set their belongings in the corner of a booth.
“So, what’s your poison...strawberry, banana, acai berry?” Todd flashed another killer smile.
“Whatever you’re having is fine.” Janet slid herself into the booth and tried to slow her pounding heart.
“Great, triple soy chocolate it is,” he said.
When Todd returned with the drinks he placed one in front of Janet. He then slid into the booth across from her. His leg brushed hers and immediately Janet felt goose bumps crawl up her arm. She gave him a nervous, twitchy smile as she took a sip of the thick liquid.
“Hard to believe these are healthy,” he said, tipping the cup to his lips.
Janet nodded. And I can’t believe I’m sitting here.
“So, I’m Todd.” He stuck out his hand.
“I’m...a...Janet,” she said, grasping his fingers, giving a weak shake. They felt so strong.
“I guess I should apologize to you.”
Janet was puzzled.
“I’m not usually so forward,” he explained. “I had a horrible divorce...you know...once bitten twice shy and all that. But you don’t look like you’d bite my head off. So I thought, why not?”
Janet nodded. “I was wondering why you were being so nice to me.”
I’m a practice run.
Now it was Todd’s turn to look confused. “What do you mean?”
Janet tittered. “Didn’t you see Kim and Shelley in there?” She motioned with her head. “They were definitely into you.”
Todd smirked. “Really? Never noticed.”
Janet took another sip of her drink.
“Besides...you’re much more my type.”
Janet was shocked. “Why!? I’m so...so...unfit.”
That’s it, no more games. Be straight with people. (Dr. Harris would be proud).
Todd looked at her with such tenderness she thought she might burst into tears.
“I was once over weight myself,” he said. “Why do you think I endure this torture every week?”
He then gently grasped her hand. “Besides, the weight of the heart is only about 260 grams.” He held her stare with his soft brown eyes. “So, I’d say we’re good to go.”
Janet was speechless. But she let the warmth of his hand seep through her loneliness and into her soul.
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