It’s been over a month since I participated in a #BlogBattle! How did I let that happen? Don’t answer that. 😛 Anyway, I’m back and excited to be part of the fun again! As always, check out Rachael Ritchey’s blog for the rules and the other posts as they’re added through the day. Voting for your THREE favorite stories starts tomorrow!
The word is SCAR
The Genre: I don’t know. Almost Romance?
The only sound in the gym was the whir of treadmill and the rhythmic tapping of her feet as she ran. The place was dead. But no one came to the gym at 4 A.M. Even the receptionist was dozing off – the price of running a 24 hour fitness center.
She passed two miles and kept running. It was freeing to be able to run again. Two years ago she’d lost her boyfriend in a car accident that left her with physical and emotional scars. She never finished therapy and had become addicted to food and gained weight. It never bothered her until one night she fell and it took eight and a half minutes to try and get up. That had been the wake-up call she desperately needed. She joined a gym and one year later here she was.
She looked away from the ticking miles up to the muted TVs. Infomercials and over-analyzed replays from the previous day’s sports flickered in a never ending cycle. 2.5 miles. She hit the cool down button and slowed to a walk, breathing through her nose to regulate her oxygen intake. After the last seconds beeped, she hopped off the belt as it idled to a stop, grabbed a towel and wiped the machine down. She tossed it and grabbed another for her face before stepping on to the scale. She still had a few pounds she wanted to lose. She’d never been Miss America by any means, but the trainer had set a healthy goal based on her body measurements. She was almost there.
She tossed the towel down on a bench, added 25 lb. weights to each side of its suspended bar, lay down, and started pumping it up and down. Her body took up the challenge, firing her muscles against the load. This was her new addiction. Lately she’d been looking up runs online, even thinking about registering for one. She moved away from the bench press and started on her usual circuit of the weight room. The scar across her chest was barely noticeable under the high neckline of her tank top. The other scar on her left arm, tightened over the bulge of muscle she worked. The doctors warned her that arm wouldn’t be as strong as the other, but there was no reason to baby it.
Her gaze unconsciously strayed to the clock on the wall. Almost 4:30 A.M. He’d be coming in any time now.
The receptionist barely stirred as he swiped his card across the scanner. His steps seemed to echo off the brick walls. The place smelled like cleaning wipes and sweat. It was a calming scent. The gleaming 0430 on his watch congratulated him on his promptness. He had about an hour before the pre-work crowd started filtering in. The tapping of his prosthetic on the linoleum reminded him why he got there so early.
It had been eighteen months since a roadside bomb had shortened his tour and sent him back stateside. The doctors told him he might never walk again, but he’d never taken no for an answer. He’d powered through therapy and had been on his own for a few months now.
He took a few minutes to warm up on a treadmill, even working up a jog for a few minutes. He stepped off and headed for the weights. She was there as she had been for the last three months. The only other person crazy enough to go to the gym at this hour.
They settled into the same routine, lifting weights and not talking. This time around, he’d have to break it.
“Hey, you mind spotting me?” he asked. She looked a little startled but came over to the bench as he loaded up a new weight on the bar. He lay down and she helped him take it off the rack. Silence again. She hovered, ready to help should his shaking arms give out. He re-racked with a grunt and she stepped back.
“Let me know when you’re ready to go again,” she said. He nodded and she stretched out her quads while they waited. She helped another two times before he got up and replaced the plated weights.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Any time,” she smiled.
“You training for anything?” he asked. Might as well get to know his lone gym partner.
“Then why come in this early?”
“I decided my life needed changing a year ago and really got into exercise. I was still having trouble sleeping and started coming up here and haven’t stopped. It’s kinda nice to have the place to yourself.”
He agreed. An empty gym was better than meatheads trying to ask about his leg or the scars on his face.
“What about you? Training for anything?” She must be trying to be normal, but another glance told him she was serious.
“I don’t know yet. I know a couple guys with prosthetics that still serve. It’s an option, I guess.” He couldn’t believe he was sharing that with a stranger.
“Sounds like a good goal.”
“Yeah, if that’s even an option for me, I’ve still got a ways to go.”
“Well, any time you need a spotter, just let me know.” There was a smile again.
“Will do. I’m Aeron, by the way.”
“Jennifer.” She shook his hand.
She picked up her gym bag to head out, but turned back around.
“If you don’t mind me asking, can you run?” She blurted nervously.
“I’m no marathoner, but I can work up a jog. Why?”
“I’ve been looking into 5 and 10K’s recently. If you’re interested, I could use a training partner. There’s a run benefiting the Wounded Warrior project coming up.”
He appeared to actually consider it for a second.
“Yeah, why not? Sounds like we both need something to work towards.”
A smile teased her face. She was suddenly ready to begin.
“See you tomorrow then?”
“Bright and early!”