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THIS IS I'M NOT AFRAID #26 I'M MAD AT YOU I'M NOT SORRY

Ha-ha. Ya right. Just kidding. Nothing’s wrong.
 



 I can’t tell when is an ok time to say I have a problem, so I keep my harsh reactions inside the walls of my body, behind my tongue, down my throat. Sometimes they threaten escape so I swallow them, let them move through my digestive system and out my bowels, which can take days.
 

LOIS GOES TO GROUP FITNESS

I’ve never sweat so much in my life. The air isn’t moving. It is just sitting on me heavy, melting itself around every curve of my wet body. This is why I hate exercise.
 
The teacher seems anxious, trying hard to show us a good time. Has he forgotten his job is simple? Just give the instructions. Tell me what to do. Demand I lift the kettlebell higher with each swing, and pretend not to notice when I scowl at you.
 
I suppose his job is also:
  1. Kick our butts
    1. Whip us into the best shape of our lives.
2. Be likeable
  1. Show us a good time because returning customers are happy customers.
 
I will, I say to no one and not out loud, not be returning.
You think that now, I respond, jumping the sweat off my every piece of exposed skin. But what about when you feel great later.
 
I dressed skimpy, summer fitness chic. I changed my outfit five times before settling on the black shorts and crop top, a Reebok t-shirt I cut myself. The teacher is annoyingly skilled at name recall. He says, “Get those knees up higher, Bethany!” I’m very sure it has been well over the thirty seconds.
 
I want to scream “My name’s not Bethany!” because it’s not, it’s Lois, but I’m using Bethany’s membership because she broke her foot moving a couch down some stairs and guilted me into making the most of her prepaid fancy gym pass. “It can’t just go to waste!”
 
She’s at my place now with her foot up on some frozen corn watching the first season of Friends. She was way too eager on my behalf when I left in my black shorts not smiling.
 
I’ve never dated anyone so perky. In fact, if I were one for dating apps, the first line of my profile would read, “NOT into perky types.” But like my grandma always said before she died in 2012, “ya never know who’s gonna steal you’re heart while you ain’t lookin.”
 
She said this like I should really watch out for thieves. Like I should take good care to guard my belongings including my heart. My grandma was skeptical of everyone. She only ever fell for the grumpy old guys in her AA group, the ones who were crafty enough to steal things but weren’t likely to care enough to steal a heart. The ones who didn’t look at her. The ones who used to be hot shit, made apparent by sagging neck tattoos and residual pony tails.
 
My favorite of her boyfriends rode a motorcycle and was more interested in teaching me how to drive it than in taking me for a ride. At 16, I knew I hated 1. men and 2. being driven around by a man so I liked this. I remember crashing the bike into garage door just as my grandma came outside with iced tea, which was very housewife of her, a version of herself that only showed up for a new boyfriend. Usually I just drank lukewarm water from the rusty tap.
 
“Nice, Bethany! Good form!”
 
Squats have always been my strongest exercise. I inhereted muscular thighs from my mother’s side of the fam and I’ve learned not to stick my butt out or bow my knees. I realize I want him to say more, to tell me I’m strong, that I’m doing better than anyone else in the class and they should all watch me. They should all try to be more like me.
 
I can feel the spandex of my shorts creep farther up my buttcrack with each squat so I try to will the teacher away. He gets distracted by Shelley, a blonde whose body I hate because I want it to be mine. He corrects her food placement so I feel better. When it seems like no one is looking I act like putting my hands near my butt is part of my technique and let loose the spandex on an up-squat.
 
After the squats we get a water break. I can’t imagine myself doing any more jumping around with these people so I pretend to go to the bathroom and tell a random person in the class, Gotta run to the bathroom! She pretends not to hear me, or maybe she thinks I was talking to someone else. Hopefully if anyone asks she will say “Oh I think I heard her say she had to use the bathroom.”
 
There’s no one at the front desk so it’s easy to grab my shoes and bag in both arms and push my way outside before anyone comes looking. I realize by doing this I will have to either 1. think of a good excuse if I’m going to show my face again or 2. never come back.
 
Bethany’s asleep when I get home, the corn melted into mush inside its bag. I take a shower and feel strangely alone. I look at my belly in the full length mirror that hangs on the back of the door and push the skin into a wrinkled mountain. If I’m too sore to walk tomorrow I’ll be pissed.

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