Charlie knew the jig was up when his exercise partner stopped talking.
didn’t chatter so much as she felt duty-bound to fill conversational
silence. She helped ease the tedium of their 20-minute interval runs at
the rec center’s elevated track. Below them, basketball players squeaked
their shoes on the courts and shrieked curses at each other. To the
side, separated by a glass wall, there worked a yoga class.
finished their run and stepped out of the lanes for cool-down
stretching. Charlie, a foot taller than his partner, looked over Katie’s
head at the yoga practitioners. He never saw any fat people doing yoga.
Maybe they weren’t allowed. Charlie got ready to crack a joke at the
expense of the imaginary, excluded fat yogis when he saw his dream girl.
His eyes traced the curve of her
downward dog pose to her feet. Her feet! They were perfect. The rest of
the world receded from them. This chick had feet like the kind of woman
who made hobbits look at World War I through birdbaths on the forest
stopped talking. He looked away from the dream girl into Katie’s eyes.
Katie reminded Charlie of Violet Beauregard. It was the pageboy cut and
round face. She blushed hard, and it made her look even more Violet-ey.
“Hhhhholy shit, Charlie.” Her eyebrows vanished into her bangs.
“What?” Charlie said.
“You happy to see me today?” she said.
Charlie looked down. His grey workout sweat pants did nothing to hide his raging boner.
he said. Charlie dropped into the defensive half-squat that every male
of the species learns in middle school when their bodies begin to betray
them. He looked badly constipated, but at least it baffled the outline
of his traitor dick.
I tell you I’m fighting with my boyfriend, that doesn’t give you
license to... show off your business.” She poked his stomach pooge with a
finger. Charlie wanted to drop about 20 pounds, which was entirely the
point of their trips to the student rec center.
bulldozed over his mortified silence. “Seriously, it doesn’t mean my
relationship’s falling apart every time I vent about Jason. You boys
always get this look like, ‘oho, now’s my chance,’ any time-”
“Not you, her,” Charlie said.
“I’m not going to point,” he said, aggrieved. “The one in like... the tight blue thing.”
Katie looked. “Seriously, Charlie? There’s nothing to her. She’s built like Gumby with mosquito bites on the chest.”
at her feet,” Charlie said, unable to keep the awe from his voice. He
lifted his eyebrows. They looked like they were drawn onto his face with
black permanent marker.
“Her what? What’s so special about her feet?” Katie said.
“Oh God, Katie, they’re perfect. I want to just... fucking put them on a bun and eat them.” Charlie said.
Now Katie’s eyebrows came back to earth and scrunched together.
“Charlie Levert, do you have a foot fetish?” she said.
“No!” Charlie half-turned his pelvis away from Katie and the yoga class behind her.
“You do. You totally do,” Katie said.
pressed his mouth into a thin line. He looked away. Downstairs, a
basketball caromed off the backboard. One of the players let out a
do you want to suck on my toes, Chaaaarlie?” Katie said, laughing.
Charlie’s ears turned red and his shoulders pushed together in a way
that told her that Charlie did, he absolutely did want to suck her toes.
He wanted to suck all the toes.
“Look, I’m sorry, big guy.” She patted one of his arms, having the good grace to look ashamed. “You gonna ask her out?”
Charlie’s caterpillar eyebrows tried to fuse with each other. “God no!” he said.
laughed again. “No. You’re gonna ask her out,” she said. “We just...
let’s just, you know. Kind of calm down the situation in your pants.”
“Oh God, Katie, it’s not prehensile. I can’t make my dong do stuff on command,” Charlie said.
let’s hang your coat on it,” Katie said. Charlie made a strangled noise
of disbelief, but at least the shame was drawing the bloodflow away
from his sweat pants.
“I don’t even know her name,” Charlie said.
that, Charlie? You’ve just developed an interest in yoga? That’s great!
I’m so glad for you,” Katie said, shoving him thataway. They caught up
while Dream Girl and the others greeted the sun.
close, Dream Girl had the ethereal, brainwashy look that yoga
practitioners get after lots of practice. Her long face and
scrunchied-back blonde hair would have looked horsey on anyone who
didn’t take such good care of herself, Charlie thought. But she was lean
(Like a horse)
“Shut up,” Charlie muttered to himself.
“Can I help you?” Dream Girl said.
“Yeah, uh. I’m interested in trying out yoga. Apparently.”
snapped a savage kick into the back of Charlie’s leg. He wrenched
his pained grimace into what he hoped was an inviting smile.
Dream Girl said, stepping away from the others. “The easiest thing to
do is start with a couple rest poses. They don’t look as exciting, but
you can feel them work when you sink in.”
one is Child’s Pose,” she said, kneeling and then draping her upper
body forward onto the ground. “Just give it a shot, and I’ll correct you
as you go.”
Charlie looked back at Katie, who watched with folded arms and a Satanic grin, then did his best.
“That’s a good start,” Dream Girl said. She stood up. “You’re tight around the neck and upper back, though.”
“Here,” she said, pressing the ball of her foot between Charlie’s shoulders, forcing him to flatten just a little. She frowned.
“You’re shaking a lot,” Dream Girl said. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” he said, voice warbling, face down. His ears were still bright red. “Do you want to go out?”
“Sure,” Dream Girl said in a no-big-deal voice. Charlie could hear her smile.
“I’m going to put you through the yoga wringer first, though,” she said.
“That’s fair,” Charlie said. He could hear Katie laugh.
“You’re arching back up again,” Dream Girl said. “Let me just...”
Charlie felt her foot and splayed toes on his back again. He wriggled.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” she said.
“I’m great,” Charlie said, glad that Child’s Pose kept his crotch aimed at the floor and out of sight.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Aimee challenged me with "If passion were a palpable thing, what would it feel like?" and I challenged Tara Roberts with "It's time to feed the wolf at the door. Maybe it's a pile of bills or some unpleasant, forestalled obligation. Maybe it's an actual hungry wolf!"