Pendant Changes part 2 (Saturday)

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    Mark Newman

    Pendant Changes Part 2 (SATURDAY)

    by Marknew

    Sandy was the first one up, rising early as always to go running. She had already changed into her shorts and shoes when Michelle opened her eyes.

    "Morning," she stretched, seeing Michelle beginning to move. "Where are you going?"

    "Running," Sandy answered, tightening her laces. She expected Michelle to roll back over for more sleep, but was surprised to see her pick her head up instead.

    "You like running, don’t you?" Michelle asked.

    "Yup," Sandy admitted. "It feels good to get out and challenge yourself, to feel your body respond."

    Michelle closed her eyes appreciatively, picturing it. For some reason, exercise and pushing herself physically appealed to her this morning. She opened her eyes again. "Would you mind some company?"

    "You?" Sandy asked in surprise. Michelle had never been interested in athletics or training.

    Michelle blushed. "Yeah. I don’t know why, but it just seems the thing to do this morning. But I wouldn’t want to hold you up or anything."

    "You wouldn’t do that," Sandy pretended, liking the idea of company. "That’d be great."

    Sandy showed Michelle some simple stretching exercises. They felt good, even better than the first time she’d done them. Her muscles were feeling limber and strong, and Michelle’s enthusiasm has catching. They started out together, Sandy running easily so that Michelle, with her shorter legs and lack of conditioning, didn’t get discouraged and drop back. Sandy expected her to slow to a walk after half a block, but three blocks later Michelle was still going strong and even picking up the pace a little. Soon they reached the park and Michelle thanked her friend and told her to do her usual, faster run. She’d just jog around until she got tired. Sandy picked up the pace and soon found a pack of the elite, younger runners on the track and joined them.

    The park was more crowded than usual. Strangely enough, based on the much larger number of women running, Michelle and she weren’t alone in their Saturday morning resolution. Sandy saw all the regulars, men and women, but a lot of new, female faces. As usual, the track was dominated by the hard-core fanatics, with Kent Bennett, the record-setting star of the high school cross-country team, setting the impossible pace of the top-tier, trained athlete. Kimberly, the leader of the women’s team was back in the middle of the men’s pack, but she seemed to be running with more determination than usual today and actually looked to be gaining a little ground rather than yielding it.

    Sandy felt terrific. Usually she did about forty minutes, but she ran harder than usual, wanting to get a full morning’s exercise and expecting Michelle to signal her any moment that she was tired and wanted to head back. But the signal never came, and after an hour of six minute miles she called a stop to it and left the track to find Michelle. There she was, still running, red-faced and enthusiastic.

    "This is great!" she said. "Now I see why you love exercise so much!"

    "Have you been running all this time?" Sandy asked, surprised, as they headed out of the park and back to her house.

    "Sure. I like it so much better doing it out in the park, instead of in gym class. That must be the difference. And it’s so inspiring seeing all the other women out there. And guys too, of course. But there aren’t as many of them. I guess they go later, or maybe they work out in their gym room."

    Sandy thought, ‘Actually, usually the guys outnumber the girls, but not today.’ She wasn’t sure what to say about it. "Maybe. I can’t believe you’re not tired. Do you know you’ve been running for a whole hour?"

    "Really?" Michelle stopped and started bouncing on her feet. "That’s amazing. I thought it was only, like fifteen, twenty minutes at most. It’s funny. When we first started out I was getting tired, but I just tried, I don’t know, kind of to, you know, stay within myself? And I kept getting a second wind. Come on." They started running again. "Anyway, I kept getting a second wind, although it happened so many times it’s probably dumb calling it a second wind. But maybe you get them all the time."

    "No. To be honest, I’ve never run this fast for this long before in my life."

    "Really?!" They were at Sandy’s house. "We’re already here! Geez! I don’t even want to stop. Except that I’m getting hungry."

    "Me too. Let’s shower and eat. We told Theresa we’d meet her later."

    Theresa woke up early too, feeling cautiously excited about the day. It was funny, but the boys had all eaten less than usual at dinner, so she would have enough leftovers to make meal today’s preparation easier. And the beer seemed to knock them out sooner too. They drank less than usual and instead of spending the evening competing to see how could make her more miserable, they just sat in a stupor in front of the TV. Especially her father. THAT was a relief. It let her get through some housework and part of her homework too. She could leave the rest for later and take most of the day for herself. She got dressed quickly, pulling her top down repeatedly and getting annoyed at herself for obviously having washed it in water that was too hot. She didn’t have the money to buy new tops, so it would have to do. But she was determined not to let it spoil her mood. She packed her usual bag of extra clothes along with her school books, tiptoed carefully around the house, trying to get out without waking anyone. She made it as far as the main room. There was the weight, right where they’d left it. It was never any use asking them to move it. They always said, ‘no her they were about to use it.’ Until someone tripped on it. Then they’d blame her for not keeping the room straight. Or they’d tell her to move it herself, laughing as she’d struggle with it. Well, they weren’t around to laugh now. She’d just have to move it quietly. She put her things down and gripped it, bending both her knees, and straightened up. That wasn’t so bad. It was definitely easier when they weren’t hectoring her. She walked slowly to the corner and put it down. Done! Now out the door. She did it. Now she would be free until the late afternoon, when she’d have to come back to make them dinner.

    Back at McDonald’s she changed into her leather vest and shorts. Funny, those were tight on her too. She didn’t like the way the vest looked on top of her t-shirt but she decided it was warm enough to wear with just her bustier. Still it showed more of her midriff than usual. That couldn’t have shrunk. Maybe she had grown a little since the last time she’d worn it in the Fall. She liked that idea. Maybe she was still growing. Everyone in her family was tall. She was already 5’11". Maybe she could pass 6′. That gave her something to fantasize about. Her brothers treated her like a servant, but in her fantasies she was the one in charge. She loved looking down at men, loved treating them like little boys, loved seeing them uncomfortable, unnerved, and a little bit afraid. Her height, her leather fashion style, and her high school image already let her play out this fantasy with many of the smaller or less secure boys. Every extra inch of height would help.

    Relaxed and in her preferred uniform, Theresa emerged from the McDonald’s rest room and headed outside. It was a perfect day. Even her bag felt comfortable on her shoulder as she headed to the library. Her long legs ate up the blocks and she enjoyed giving frosty looks to the men and boys who stared at her as they passed. Before she knew it she’d arrived, feeling exhilarated and as fresh as when she’d started. She looked at the doors and the dark room inside. What a waste of a day it would be. What she really wanted to do, strangely enough, was to keep walking or even dance. It had been years since she’d danced, not since shortly after her mother had walked out on them. Her ballet lessons were the second thing her father had cancelled, for "economy’s" sake, after her mother’s art subscriptions. Funny how that never applied to the season tickets to Mets games. She paused in front of the building, indecisive. The more she looked inside the more her body screamed at her to enjoy the weather. Maybe all she needed was a little activity, to let herself work off some excess energy. She headed down toward the river to a grassy area shielded by some trees. She put the bag down next to her, kicked off her sandals and started stretching. Oooooh, it felt good. Her body remembered all the movements right away, and after a little stiffness, she was limber as ever. Oh it felt so good to dance! After nearly half an hour she felt more alive than she had in months. But she wanted more, needed more. She looked at her bag. Why not? She took it in her hands, balancing the weight and then began moving with it, enjoying pitting her strength against the unwieldy weight of the books and clothes within. The warm glow spread from her arms and shoulders through her whole body. Anyone watching would think she was crazy but for the moment that was unimportant. Nothing could match the pleasure she was getting from the exertion, the pleasure of breathing harder, the tingling tiredness of her muscles counterbalanced by the beat of her heart pumping new energy. She could almost visualize the process. Why hadn’t she done this before?

    All of a sudden she heard some snickering. Three boys, probably freshmen, were watching her, pointing at her. Ooooooooooooh! That made her so angry! She put her bag down and strode toward them, her face red from emotion as well as the exercise. "What are you little twerps sniggering about?!" she asked in her haughtiest voice. As she got closer she realized they really WERE twerps. She stood as tall as she could, glaring down at them and they seemed to shrink away from her. She doubted they were even in high school, probably just seventh or eighth grade.

    "N-nothing, uh, ma’am," one of them said, then, motioning to the others, they started running away. Theresa thought for a moment of chasing them, then decided against it. She felt too good to stay angry or to spoil it on disciplining those little boys. She breathed out contentedly. OK. She could face it now. She still had an hour to do homework before Sandy and Michelle would come by. She hoisted her bag on her shoulder and headed back to the library. Maybe she’d ask Sandy show her a few things in the weight room. There definitely was more to exercise than she’d remembered.

    Meanwhile, in some bushes by the river, three boys were whispering.

    "Pshew! She’s leaving!"

    "I TOLD you that was Theresa from school."

    "Yeah, I know. I’ve seen her around too, but she looked different today. Taller."

    "Maybe from all that stretching for dance."

    "I thought she was going to start whacking us."

    "Come on, Cal. She’s a girl!"

    "I didn’t notice YOU waiting around to see. I swear that girl’s got muscle."

    "That must be why she’s always wearing long sleeves. Nobody likes a girl with muscles!"

    "Like she’d care what you think. I thought she looked hot."

    "You WOULD Cal."

    And so the boys bickered.

    "There she is!" Michelle said, pointing at Theresa, who was reading a magazine.

    "Do I see GRASS stains on her legs? Hey Theresa, you all right?" Sandy said, walking more quickly to the reading area, ignoring the insistent "Sssshhh!" from the librarian.

    Theresa unfolded her long legs from the chair. "Yeah, I was just uh — what took you guys? I finished half an hour ago."

    Michelle giggled. "We were at the school, at the weight room. Sandy was showing me a few things."

    "Really? Funny, I was going to ask Sandy too." Theresa said, a little disappointed.

    "Oh, we can go back. It’s fun!" Michelle chirped.

    "And, it was empty. Of boys, that is," Sandy continued. "Really weird too, for a Saturday. Usually they’re all there, hanging out. But this time, there was just one of them, Frank. And he wasn’t as bad as usual. Guess he didn’t have as much confidence, being so outnumbered."

    "It was so strange! Like at the park!"

    "You were at the park too?" Theresa asked.

    "We went running this morning. I didn’t know so many girls were up on Saturdays. I’m going to start a real exercise thing. Every day! Weight training too!"

    "I don’t believe this, Michelle."

    Michelle made a face at her.

    "Girls! This is a library!" The librarian said in a loud whisper.

    "Let’s go outside. I’m all done," Theresa said.

    "Do you want to go back to the school? Just for a few minutes before lunch. Sandy can show you what she showed me."

    Theresa was hesitant. She felt embarrassed being caught up in the same excitement as Michelle. It wasn’t her style. But she did want Sandy’s help. "OK. If you want to," she replied.

    Sandy looked at Theresa carefully. Something was different about her too, but Sandy knew better than to ask. It would come out before lunch was over, one way or the other. They walked toward the school, which was just a few blocks away.

    "I hope there won’t be many boys there, like before," Michelle said. "That Frank looks so strong. I’d be really intimidated if he started saying things, like Sandy says he always does to her."

    "He’s usually such a showoff," Sandy confirmed. "But today he was keeping to himself. I think if we just stay together we’ll be fine."

    Meanwhile, Frank was straining at the weight bar. The day had started badly. The idea of getting out early and going to the weight room was somehow less appealing than usual, and all of his teammates had begged off for one reason or another. But Frank was different. Not many at school knew it, because Frank had only moved to the neighborhood three years ago, but when he was younger he had been overweight and slow. He’d made a pledge when he was just 11 that he would work his way up to being the best athlete in school, and by dint of a regular program of weightlifting and running he had done it. Nothing had ever stopped him before, not vacations, sickness, exams or parental discipline, and nothing would stop him now. But he had to admit, today was the most frustrating day he’d had since he first started. As usual, he’d tried to add an extra two pounds to start off the weekend, always determined to keep to his schedule and progression, but despite all of his work during the week, for some reason he could really feel the difference this time. By the time he’d done ten reps he had to stop, his muscles screaming, and readjust the weight back to his previous week’s setting. He knew enough not to push things too far. He didn’t want to hurt himself by lifting too much. He’s have to put off increasing the weights to the next session. Fortunately none of his teammates, who knew his strict attention to his routine, were there to notice and tease him. But he knew.

    Then there was the mass of girls who had shown up, clogging the machines. As usual he’d tried to push ahead, but as the only boy there this morning somehow his authority seemed diminished, and although he always cut to the front of the line, a few times something actually made him hold back and let the girl at the station finish her routine. Sandy seemed to take particular pleasure in grinding out extra reps just to keep him waiting. He was about to say something to her about it, but decided against it. He would complain to the school athletic director, though. Everyone knew, including Sandy, that the football team had the rightful priority.

    But the worst of it was that even halfway through the workout, he wasn’t getting the buzz he usually got, the endorphin rush, as one of the brainier guys on the team explained it to him. Whatever it was, it wasn’t happening . Sure he’d missed it a few times when he was really sick or tired. But he was perfectly healthy today. What made it all the worse was seeing all the glowing, smiling faces of the women working around them. They all seemed extra-inspired, doing extra reps, grunting, pushing and grunting some more, but then hugging each other and laughing about how good it felt. And all that talking! Of course, he and the guys would never talk like that, never hug each other like the girls did but it was exactly what he usually felt but didn’t today. It was like being at a party when everyone’s gotten high and he hadn’t. And it felt completely unfair!

    He knew he was being a bit ridiculous. As bad a day as he was having, he was far stronger than any of them. As hard as they might work out, they could never have muscles like his, never have his strength. So let them push their little muscles, let them "tone" them. So long as their play didn’t interfere with his work.

    Just then Dave came in, looking out of sorts. Dressed in blue jeans and a shirt instead of his workout suit, he frowned at all the women in the room and came up to Frank. "What’s going on here? Did somebody declare this ‘Ladies’ Day?’?" he said with a snort.

    Frank laughed. "I could’ve used a little company this morning. Where were you?"

    Dave shrugged. "I don’t know. Just didn’t feel like it. But I thought I’d wander down and see if I got inspired." He shook his head. "Maybe later. Too crowded now."

    "I don’t know about you, Dave. You missed workouts on Tuesday. If you start laying off you lose momentum. I think your shirt is already looking a little baggy around the arms. Cecile’s not gonna like it."

    "Shut up! What do YOU know!" Dave said, scowling. "It’s a new shirt, that’s all. Geez."

    "Hey, just kidding you. Can’t you take a joke?” Frank hit him on the arm. Even if Dave wasn’t working out it did feel good to have another guy in the room.

    Just then Sandy, Michelle and Theresa walked in.

    “Shit. More girls. They were here already today!”

    “Aaaaah, they’re just sightseeing,” Dave said. “Probably looking to get picked up for tonight.”

    “Uh-uh. Sandy and Michelle were working out before. Not Theresa though. Geez! They’re all going to the pull down bar. That’s my next station!”

    “Well, just tell them to get off! They know the rules as well as you do. At least Sandy does. We’re always kicking her off. She acts tough, but she knows enough to listen.”

    Now Frank had no choice. With Dave watching he walked up to the machine. “C’mon girls. Off you go. I’m next here.”

    Michelle, who had put her hands on the bar and was about to show Theresa what she’d learned shot an unhappy glance at Sandy and started to step away, but Theresa moved next to her, blocking her retreat. Frank was acting just like her brothers always did, but there was just one of him, and he had no right to treat Michelle that way. Theresa drew herself up to her full height. Thankful that she hadn’t yet taken off her heels, she actually looked down on Frank by a couple of inches. That gave her the confidence she needed. Summoning her hauteur, she said, icily, “Sure you’re next, Frank. After the three of us. Just in case you lose count, I’ll say ‘Hut!’ so you’ll know when it’s time.”

    The other girls in the room, who had stopped momentarily to watch, giggled nervously. Frank turned red. "Hey! This facility is football team priority. You KNOW that. Sandy?" He turned to her. "I’m waiting."

    Sandy smiled slightly. Backing away slightly and trying to keep a straight face and to stop her voice from shaking, she replied, "Good. If you’re waiting, then there’s no problem."

    "That’s not what I –" This was all wrong. Why wasn’t Dave helping? He was standing back, just watching. Without support, surrounded by all these girls, what was he supposed to do, physically pull her off the machine? He swallowed nervously. That damn Theresa. So full of herself. He looked up at her. He hated that. Her and her heels. He waved his arm. "All of you girls, this facility is for the football team first. I don’t know what you girls cooked up this morning, all of you coming here, but you have to know, if you want a winning football team, then you have to let us use it." The girls giggled. Somehow that didn’t come out as strong as he’d wanted it too. "Right Dave?" he added, then wished he hadn’t.

    Dave nodded, "Damn straight!"

    The girls weren’t even paying attention now. They went back to their stations, concluding that neither boy was going to do anything nasty. Frank watched helplessly as Michelle showed Theresa the arm motions and how to adjust the weight.

    "See, I did thirty pounds this morning," she said. "You’re bigger, so you could probably do more once you work out more. I’ll put it on thirty, just to show you."

    Theresa nodded. "Let me see you do it again."

    "OK. See? That’s not so hard." She did a few more. "It really feels good, the more you do. You try." Theresa stood under the bar. "You sure don’t have to reach up as much as I do." Theresa pulled it down a few times, feeling kind of silly. "Come on, get into it!" Michelle said encouragingly.

    "It’s kind of easy, I guess," Theresa said, not wanting to embarrass Michelle.

    "Good!" Michelle bent over, putting the weight up to 60. "You shouldn’t do too much right at the beginning, right Sandy?" Sandy nodded. "OK. Go ahead."

    Theresa started again. She could feel more of a strain, but the exertion felt good. Just as Michelle had said, the more she did, the better she felt.

    "Whoa, Theresa. Fifteen reps are enough for the first time. You don’t want to strain yourself."

    "I actually was just starting to feel good," she said quietly, but yielded to Sandy, who increased the weight slightly and did a few more slowly to show Theresa a few things about form. Sandy got off and then Theresa looked down at Frank, who was watching each of them closely. She leaned forward slightly and said, in a voice louder than she needed, "HUT!" That provoked another round of titters from the girls in the room.

    Sandy, Michelle and Theresa quickly walked away to another station, Michelle whispering, "I can’t believe you actually DID that!"

    Frank fumed. Usually he felt so good after a session in the weight room. The girls were ruining everything. He would talk to the coach Monday about limiting their access to the room. Training was serious stuff, after all. Not for girls. He settled under the bar and collected his thoughts, then quickly did ten reps. At least those felt right. Then he looked at the weights. Seventy pounds. That was way below his usual amount! He grit his teeth. Damn them for distracting him! He leaned over to increase the weight back to the proper amount and then started again. He did four, with difficulty, his arms already feeling tired. No, that was enough. He didn’t want to risk a strain. He’d be back again tomorrow. Once a day on the weekends was enough. He only did his double workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He’d call around and make sure Dave and the other guys showed up this time. By Sunday the girls would have gotten tired of this and he and the gang could work out in peace! He got up angrily and pushed his way out of the room.

    Sandy had been showing Theresa how to do curls. She watched Frank leave, then turned to Theresa and Michelle. "I can’t believe you got his goat so easily! That was so great! You’re going to have to come with me here every time, Theresa!" Michelle nodded excitedly in agreement.

    "Well, it is more fun than I expected," Theresa admitted. "I, uh, think I need more weight Sandy."

    "Sure, hang on a minute. You know, Theresa, you’re doing as much as I usually do," she said, watching Theresa’s form. "I didn’t realize you were so strong."

    "Uh, I guess I didn’t either. But you know I used to dance a lot. That develops your muscles too," she said, cranking out more reps.

    Michelle watched admiringly. "You’ve got real biceps, Theresa. See? Right there when you’re like halfway up." Theresa paused while Michelle touched them. "They’re hard too! I wish I had muscles like that."

    "Don’t wish for them," Sandy said. "Just keep working out, like you’ve done today."

    "Oh I will! It’s really been fun. But I’ll never get muscles like you or Theresa. See?" She pulled down her sleeve and flexed. A little bump popped up. "Ohmygod!"

    Sandy smiled. "See, Michelle? You probably just never noticed. Everybody has some muscle there. Keep working on it. You’ll be surprised at what you can do. Theresa! Don’t overdo it." Theresa stopped but was looking puzzled. "What is it?"

    "I don’t know. It’s just … I’ve exercised more this morning than I have for a long time. But I don’t hurt. I just feel good, like a nice glow." She looked around the room. "Look at all these girls. They’re all working hard, and they look like they’ve been here a long time. But they don’t look that tired."

    "No, most of them were here when we got here," Michelle observed. "We only left because we wanted to get you."

    "Sandy, let’s see how much you can curl."

    "I know how much I can curl, Theresa. I work out here three times a week."

    "Just do it, ok?" Theresa changed the weights.


    "Sandy," Theresa insisted. Sandy shrugged. She knew better than to argue with Theresa when she got like this. She sat down and gripped the bar and brought it up. "See?" Theresa said. "You can do more."

    "That doesn’t mean much," Sandy said. "You can always do more for one or two reps. But what’s important is the repeated exercise, not one or two extra heavy lifts."

    "Then repeat it. I say you can do more than you think."

    "I’ve been — all right." She carefully raised the bar two, three, four times, then continued up to fifteen. She let it go slowly. "That’s amazing," she said slowly, not quite believing what she’d done. She got up off the machine.

    "I think so too."

    "Well, I think both of you are amazing!" Michelle said, her arms around each of her friends. "Let’s go. I feel like going outside in this weather." They picked up their clothes and were about to leave the school when Theresa stopped, looking pained.

    “What’s wrong Theresa?” Sandy asked.

    “Nothing. Just my vest. It’s too small. I wore it last year but ….”

    “Theresa WOULD be the one who’s still growing!” said Michelle, not hiding her jealousy. "Look how long your legs are already!"

    Theresa looked down at Michelle’s legs and opened her mouth, closed it, then said simply, “Your legs look very nice. You should wear shorts more often.”

    “My legs!” Michelle exclaimed. “No way! They’re way too short and too thin.”

    “It’s my opinion. Take it or leave it. I have to change. I can’t wear this!”

    She disappeared into the locker room with her bag. Michelle made a face at Sandy, who said, “Actually, Theresa’s right. Your legs DO look good.”. Michelle stole a look down and shrugged. “Do you want to go running again tomorrow?”

    “Um, yeah. If you don’t mind. I really liked it today.”

    Sandy nodded. "It’s a date, then."

    Theresa reappeared, dressed in the clothes she had on when she left the house. “I gotta go. NO ONE sees me in this!” she said, frowning. She leaned down to kiss Sandy and Michelle. “See you later. I guess I have stuff I should do at home.”

    “We know.” Michelle said sympathetically.

    Theresa’s face closed up and she turned and left abruptly.

    “Michelle!” Sandy said in a sharp whisper. “Why do you have to say things like that!”

    “We’re her friends! She ought to be able to talk about it with us.”

    “She has her pride, you know. It’s so hard for her.”

    ‘I know. She doesn’t even have enough to buy new clothes. Even her tees are too small on her. I wish I could give her some of my stuff,” she shrugged. “I should just steal some of Joe’s."

    "They aren’t exactly her style," Sandy reminded her.

    Michelle sighed. "I just wish I could do SOMETHING to help her."

    "Me too. But you know Theresa. She always has to take care of things by herself."

    The two girls walked awhile toward the middle of town, until Michelle pulled Sandy’s arm. "Sandy, would you mind stopping in this store for a moment? I think these pants are cute."

    "They are. I was in here yesterday. Gee it’s crowded. Like a madhouse. I didn’t think the sale was THAT good."

    "Everybody’s yelling. That’s weird." Michelle picked up some tan slacks. "These look nice. I’m just going to try them. And this top too." She held it against herself. "They’re all complaining about the sizes, and this one looks a little small on me. I better try one size up. Maybe they got them wrong."

    Sandy shook her head. "It’s the same stuff as yesterday. These are the pants I tried on but didn’t have time to buy." She held them up and frowned.

    "What’s wrong? They’re really cute!"

    "They don’t look right against my legs. I don’t know. Let’s go see."

    The girls went into the fitting rooms, which were jam-packed with complaining women.

    "The sizes are all wrong!"

    "I can’t believe they don’t tell you beforehand that they’ve changed them."

    "They’re telling ME it’s the wrong size? I’ve had the same size since I was 17!"

    "That must be why it’s all on sale."

    "You get what you pay for. You know I always say that."

    Michelle grinned at Sandy and pushed through to an empty room. "We can just go in together," she said. Sandy agreed. Michelle pushed off her athletic shorts and put on the pants. "This is so funny! Look at this!" she said, pointing to her ankles. "It has to be the wrong size." Sandy nodded and tried hers again. She stopped after putting one leg in. "What’s wrong, Sandy?"

    "These fit perfectly yesterday," she replied, slowly putting the other leg inside.

    "Maybe you picked up the wrong pair, or the wrong size yesterday."

    "No. These are the same ones."

    "They can’t be, Sandy!"

    Sandy looked carefully at the seam. "And yet they are," she said, quietly and with authority. She pulled off the pants. "Let’s go back home. I don’t think either of us should be buying any clothes today."

    Michelle looked at her. "We could just get a bigger — aah, well, ok." She looked longingly at the pants. "I really DO like them, though."

    "Come on, Michelle."

    Theresa finished cleaning, thankful that at least her father and her brothers were out of the house. The laundry was in and she was now wearing her grungiest clothes. Now it was time for the shopping. Dressed like this she’d go to the little Foodmart, where she wouldn’t run into anyone she knew. She went into the cupboard where she kept the food money. There should be enough for most of the week. She’d have to hope one of the guys would put in a bit more to get them through the rest. NO!! It was empty! The bastards! She bet it was Charles. She stormed up to his room and after straightening his bed she saw a couple of new CDs. He’d probably drunk the rest of it away. Bastard! Now what were they supposed to do? She was the one who’d have to go to their father and beg for money. She’d be the one who’d get hit. And then he’d start in again about her responsibility to her family, that it was time for her to quit school and work so that there would finally be enough money. All that would happen is that HER pay would go for the food and the house, while the boys just kept theirs for their own amusement. Why was her life so unfair?

    She stormed back down to the main room. What she really wanted to do was break something. Charles’s head for starters. But she had too much self-control to let herself go like that. And what would be the point? The house was shabby enough already.

    Theresa spied the weights in the corner, right where she had put them. The boys hadn’t used them this morning. She stared at them for a long time, the idea forming and reforming in her head, no matter how much she tried to push it away. Well, even so. Why shouldn’t she? Working out had made her feel so good before. Wouldn’t that be just a fine way to work off her anger, since there was no shopping to do? They probably wouldn’t be home for awhile.

    She walked over, determined, and picked up the barbell, forming a clear picture in her mind about how her brothers did it. Thinking of them just made her angry and she put that energy to work, lifting the bar slowly three times, four times, five times. Her arms were burning. Ha! She could take it. Then she felt a wave of pleasure course through her body and she breathed more easily. Ohhh that was good. So good it was almost addictive. Could she do more? She gripped the bar tightly and lifted the weight to her chest five more times, holding it there the last time. Her arms were dead. There was no way she could do any more. But what about her legs? She squatted down holding the weight and pushed herself up. This was a lot easier. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty. She always had strong legs. Fifty, sixty. Enough. She felt like she was glowing, radiating pleasure. Fuck her family! This was GOOD. What else could she do? Could she press the bar up? Pushing would use different muscles than the curls. The ceiling was too low to do it standing up, but if she knelt down she could do. She slowly raised it in front of her and with her arms bent she pushed it above her head. Five times, six, seven, eight. The mix of pain and pleasure battled. Pleasure won. Nine, ten, eleven. Enough! She put it down, breathing heavily. She felt like she was floating. She picked the barbell up carefully and put it back in the corner. No one needed to know. She felt like she could glide up to her room but the loud clank of the washing machine was ending and now it was time to put the clothes on the line. Otherwise they wouldn’t be dry before dark and they might disappear. She finished her chore, stripped her clothes off and added them to the next load and then went upstairs for a shower. What about dinner? Well, she’d tell the truth. That’s all. The way she was feeling, nothing could hurt her. She wasn’t afraid of anyone. She looked down at her arms and then looked away again, quickly. No. She didn’t want to think about it. Not yet.

    Juliet positioned Jonathan in the room, then stepped away three paces. She leaned on the wall with one arm and turned her head 45 degrees, slightly away from Jonathan. “All right, we’ve done your homework. You’re all caught up. Now, Act 2, Scene 2. We’re in the tavern.”

    Jonathan cleared his throat. “Right. Just a minute." He closed his eyes and opened them. Juliet tapped her foot, impatient. "Here goes. Lady Boston, I’ve sent for another team of horses. I hope you’ll be comfortable here until they arrive.”

    “You are very kind, —


    “Mr. Clarence.” She smiled slightly. “This is your establishment? It is very clean and pleasant."

    “Yes, mylady —

    “Jonathan, that’s Mi-Lady. A short ‘i’ like the word ‘it’, barely pronounced. Accent on the "a". Try it again.”

    “Yes, Milady,” he paused, saw Juliet nod, and continued. “Is there anything I can bring you?”

    “A sherry, if you have a fine one.” She stepped away from the wall toward him. “Jonathan, how tall are you?” She looked up at him.

    “Um, six-one. As of last month. Why?”

    She shook her head. “That’s what I thought. But you can’t be. I’m five feet nine.” Jonathan looked down at her feet. “No, I’m wearing flats, as I would be on stage. Act 4, scene 4.”

    “The kissing scene? But you told me we wouldn’t –”

    “Don’t worry, Jonathan. You don’t have to do the lines. Not today. Just the kiss.”

    He grinned. “Well all right then.” He held out his arms.

    Juliet shook her head and stood in front of him, leaning backwards and turning her head slightly. "In this scene, you are standing behind me and I lean into you. It’s not a deep kiss, not this time." She leaned against him and he staggered slightly. "Jonathan, you have to be ready for me. You have to support my weight."

    "Um, yes, Juliet. I … right. OK. Ready." He braced himself. Juliet leaned against him and he bent down to kiss her, meeting her lips, his arms encircling her waist.

    She broke off the kiss and stepped away. "No, Jonathan! It’s not that kind of a kiss! You wouldn’t dare hold me like that. Not in this Act. And stand up straight. I need to arch my head to meet your lips. It’s the contrast between my — never mind. Just do it the way I tell you."

    "Sorry Juliet. I’ll practice this as long as you like," he grinned. She flashed a smile at him but her brow was furrowed and she shook her head again. "What’s wrong?"

    "You’re not really six feet one, are you?"

    "Of course I am!"

    She stared at him. "Let’s try it again. And be ready for me. I’m a lady but I’m not being graceful here. You need to use your strength to keep me on my feet, standing. The audience has to see that." He nodded. She leaned back into him and lifted her head. Again he stepped backward slightly, her lips landing just beneath his nose. "What’s WRONG, Jonathan!" she said more annoyed than she meant to sound. "Sorry, I know you’re not used to this. It has to be choreographed just right." She looked at him carefully and then leaned her head gently on his shoulder. "You must think I’m awfully bossy." She put her hands around his other arm, pulling it slightly, and nibbled on his earlobe, making him laugh slightly.

    "No. You’re … you’re great. I never imagined there was so much to this."

    Not as much as I thought, Juliet said to herself.

    "But I have to tell you, and I’m just being honest, you know, the way you’re being with me — since we’re a team, right? — that you weigh just a little more than I expected. OK?"

    "OK, Jonathan. That’s the kind of thing I need to know. Let’s try it again, then." She leaned back more gently and found his lips this time. It wasn’t exactly what she’d expected but it was far, far better than Bart would have been. Funny though. He had certainly looked stronger before.

    Calley stepped downstairs to Cindy’s basement. “Thanks Mrs. Barrett. No I don’t know why, Mrs. Barrett. I’ll talk to her. I promise.” She followed the noise to her friend. “Cindy? Where are you? Cin? What are you DOING?”

    Cindy was on the treadmill, her face red, her hair dripping and flying, her fleece drenched with sweat. Emptied bottles of water were on the floor of the room, as were the screw caps. Glasses with dried chocolate film were scattered on top of a TV blaring music videos. Empty cans of protein drink mix sat next to them, the powder littering the area. A chocolate cake covered with plastic wrap, untouched other than the slice Mr. Barrett ate the previous day was in the middle of the empty cans.

    “It really smells down here, Cin. What are you DOING?”

    “What does it look like I’m doing?” Cindy said, barely slowing down.

    “Your mom says you’ve been down here practically all day. And last night too. Are you all right?”

    “Uh huh,” she replied, speeding up again.

    “I can’t believe this. How can you exercise so much?”

    “I don’t know. I’m just doing it. It feels good. Better than eating.”


    “Uh huh. You should try.”

    “Nah. I’ll watch.” She wandered around the room and watch the video for a minute. “Is this because of Joe? What he said?”

    “Part. I don’t know. At first. But I like the feeling. Better than — you know — well, almost.” She slowed down again while she thought about it, touched herself between her legs and then sped up again. "I just get into a zone. After I do it for awhile. Then it’s really hard to stop. You know, if you feel good you just keep going. Like I do with eating. Although that’s not as much fun suddenly. This is better.”

    “Really?! You like working out more than chocolate?”

    Cindy ran even harder. “Yeah. It seems weird I know. I do get thirsty. Or hungry. That what these are for. Protein drinks. They’re my dad’s. Then I don’t have to go upstairs and see my mom.”

    “Your mom’s worried about you.”

    Cindy smiled. “She likes me fat. That’s ok when I want to eat. But now I like this better.” She slowed to a halt. "Make me a shake, ok?" Calley hurried to comply and handed it to Cindy who chucked it down and wiped the excess from her mouth with her sleeve. She took a few breaths and closed her eyes. "Mmmmmmmmmmm. I feel like I’m floating, you know?"

    "I guess."

    Cindy opened her eyes and waved her hand. "No you don’t. Not if you don’t do it." She hopped off the treadmill and grabbed her friend and dragged her over to the weight machine. "I’ll show you what I mean."

    Joe lay on the sofa, bored. He’d had the blahs all day. Maybe staying up until four wasn’t the best idea, but with Michelle at Sandy’s there had been no one to object to his playing music or watching TV late; his parents couldn’t hear it from their "suite" on the other side of the house. Then there was the NBA game. What a horrible game, the worst game he’d seen in years, the Lakers losing 68-61, shooting 32% from the field, 71% from the foul line. Unforced errors, missed rebounds, airballs. The Timberwolves had scarcely played better. The less worse team won. He thought about shooting a few baskets, but after seeing the Lakers play, the whole idea of basketball seemed disgusting. He flipped through ESPN, ABC, CBS. Some women’s sports game was on, but that bored him. If only it were a RULE that women soccer players HAD to strip off their shirts after every goal. THEN he would watch it. Joe liked that idea. Even if Brandi Chastain was not his ideal woman. Some of his friends admitted they liked muscles on girls, like Michelle’s friend Sandy. Fine with him. They can all leave the "real" girls for him, girls with soft curves and large breasts. He pumped his biceps a few times. They were really coming in nicely. He grabbed his hand weights to do a few curls but lost interest after five or so. It didn’t feel right. Too tired, probably.

    The timing could not have been more perfect. Bob’s younger sister, Celia the Pest, was on her computer, no doubt chatting with girls who were as weird and negative as she was. At least once she was in there, she would never come out. His parents were at a dinner in New York City and wouldn’t be back until at least one. And the Ms Olympia championship was being broadcast live at nine thirty. He settled back into the lounge chair, grateful for the 40" plasma screen he’d convinced his Dad to buy for football games. He had a better view than anyone in the arena. His dick was already pounding with anticipation. He stroked it a few times, looking closely at the girls, trying to hold himself off until later in the show when the heavyweights would come on. His father would choke on his food if he knew what his son was using the entertainment center for, let alone his mother! What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, that was for sure! He leaned back and scanned the line up of girls. Even the lightweights seemed more cut than usual tonight. That Juliette Bergmann was unreal. He wished the girls in high school could look like that. Imagine that Theresa O’Malley with muscles like the heavyweights, or even Juliette Bergmann. She’d be magnificent. Well, that was imagination, but this was real. It would be a great hour and a half of TV.

    Meanwhile, Celia sat at her computer, grinning, as she went from one of the four open IM windows to another. She loved chatting on the computer, almost as much she hated going to school everyday or talking to ANYONE in her family. Only there could she find people who thought like her, who understood her and her priorities and needs. Why was everyone in her own town so blind, so stupid? The boys were, of course, especially her brother, with his stupid sports. He thought it made him so great, and it’s all their parents ever talked about. "Bob made All County track. Bob made All State track. Bob’s getting a scholarship because of sports. Why don’t you do anything athletic Celia? You have the same genes are your brother. You could be just as good." Right! As I if cared. But even the girls were clueless about how things were, even the ones who SHOULD understand, like when she gave them little signals they ought to respond to, but never did. Like Sandy, when she asked if she was going to the KD Laing concert. She just shrugged and said no, and then went back to talking to that nitwit Michelle. It was so much easier over the internet. She had friends all over the country. Maybe even the world. She had almost 50 on her buddy list (she wished she knew enough about computers to change that name) and there was always someone on, even at three in the morning or on a Saturday night. With her parents out and Bob watching some sports game on the movie center screen, no one would bother her.

    Right now she was chatting mostly with Lzlisa73, keeping a few others going in case Lisa went offline. Lisa had told her once she was in her early twenties and lived in Wisconsin and was a diet and fitness nut, but that was all Celia knew about her. She was online almost as much as Celia, so Celia figured she didn’t have too much of a social life. She wondered what Lisa thought about her. Celia had told a lot of people she had her own apartment in New York City, but stopped when someone suggested they actually get together. Now she couldn’t remember what she had told people, so she stayed away from giving specific details.

    Tonight Lisa was telling her that most of her girlfriends had gone out to see Kissing Jessica Stein, but she hadn’t gone, because it was a phony Lez movie, about phony lesbians. But later she said her real reason for not going was she wanted to work out.

    CELLES1987: Why? Are you feeling fat?

    LZLISA73: No! It’s because … well, my gfs wouldn’t believe me. Look at the musclgrls website. And fitfemmes. and shes a trainer.

    C: Now?

    L: later. the msgboards all have these amazing stories. just since yestrday. about exercise and feeling good.

    C: So?

    L: Do me a favor. get off your butt. run in place 5 minutes and then come back and tell me what u feel.

    L: OK?

    C: Can I just say I did?

    L: DO IT!!!! IT’s TRUE.

    C: OK.

    Celia got up and did what Lisa told her. She went slowly at first. She never worked out except when she had to in gym class, and she knew she’d get tired right away, but the more she did the better she felt and started speeding up. After seven minutes she went back to the computer.

    C: That’s really weird. It felt really good.

    L: I know. It feels like we were rewired.

    C: It’s really weird.

    L: You said that already. You know what else?

    C: What?

    L: It’s only girls.

    C: Aren’t those girls’ sites?

    L: Yeah. But still …. One of them says if girls work out now they’ll get really strong.

    C: Why?

    L: I don’t know. It just says it.

    C: That sounds stupid. How would they know?

    L: I don’t know. Well … you don’t believe in mystical energy, do you?

    C: Ummm.

    L: You think it’s dumb?

    C: I guess. I’m not really into religion.

    C: You still there? Don’t be mad.

    L: Yeah. You shouldn’t be so narrow minded.

    C: I think religious people are narrow minded. Not you of course.

    L: I can tell you some things. But first you have to see something. I got a big muscle now.

    C: Yeah? Really? But … I mean, you’re still nowhere near as strong as guys, right?

    L: Not yet. But now I think I can be.

    C: I don’t know.

    L: Try it. Don’t let everyone else get ahead of you. I’m serious. That’s the real reason I stayed in tonight.

    C: You’re kidding right?

    L: No. I’ve been working out all day. I’ll send you a pic of my biceps. Wait. Here’s one from a month ago. Got it?

    C: Umm. Wait. Yeah. It’s just your arm. It’s not bad.

    L: Thanks. Now look at this.

    C: Is that really yours?

    L: I took it an hour ago.

    C: It’s hard to believe.

    L: Check yourself out. Even my gfs who aren’t working out are getting bigger, but it makes a big difference if you do.

    C: Well, maybe. Yeah mine does look a little bigger I think.

    L: Wouldn’t you like to be stronger than guys?

    C: Well, yeah. Sure. They make me so mad. I hate their attitude, their arrogance. Everything. Especially my brother.

    L: Well, sister, now’s your chance. Our time has come. This lady on fitfemmes says the whole yin and yang of female/male has shifted, power will be ours. It will come to us either way, but we can seize more if we develop our bodies ourselves.

    C: Really? Who said that?

    L: Femme Volcana. She’s put up about twenty posts since Friday afternoon. She said that the mystical energy shift happened then.

    C: Don’t you think that sounds kind of weird.

    L: Read it yourself. I believe it. But it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. It’ll happen anyway. I’m sure of it. Hey, I’m going to go and get back to my workouts. Do what I’m telling you. ‘Your efforts will be rewarded tenfold.’ That’s what Femme Volcana said.

    C: What does that mean?

    L: I’m not completely sure. All I know is my muscles are getting stronger really quickly. Anyway, bye for now!

    C: Bye.

    Celia looked at her arm. Maybe it did look different. But why should she care? She was above that kind of obsession with her body. She had no interest in making herself attractive to boys or, to be honest, to girls either. Didn’t girls want something different anyway? At least that’s what she herself felt — even though she had never actually had a girlfriend in that way. What’s more, the whole idea of exercising was so repulsive. It was so mindless. That’s what jerks like Bob and his friends did and then bragged about their running times or their biceps size. Ugh! It was just as bad listening to girls’ worrying if they were too fat or too flat. It was so stupid, and it was all wrapped up in the whole male obsession with power over females, and female acceptance of male power and sucking up to it. The LAST thing she wanted was to be like them. And what Lisa was saying was so stupid too. How could anyone take seriously someone calling herself Femme Volcana? That kind of spiritualism was so dumb. Didn’t she know she was being taken in? That she was falling prey to illusion and distraction from more important things? Like … well, it didn’t matter. It was so weak, so lame. It made Celia feel good knowing that unlike Lisa she could not be taken in so easily. She smiled, enjoying her superiority.

    But as she sat contentedly at her computer she detected in herself another feeling, slight, almost imperceptible, but still noticeable, with each slightly elevated beat of her heart, some lingering aftereffect of her five minutes of exercise. She had to admit to herself: running before had felt good. It had nothing to do with what Lisa had said, or "Femme Volcana", but if she concentrated on those feelings, they made her want to do it some more. It was ten past ten. What if she did it for ten minutes and then see how she felt? She got on her knees to do some "female" pushups. Too easy! Hmmm. That was interesting. What if she tried the boys’ kind? She went down and up. Hey! That was her first "real" pushup ever! She did another. And another. That was really weird. She felt tired, but then got this warm glow inside that made her want to keep going. She did three more and stopped. Not because she had to or because she was feeling uncomfortable. No, she was feeling good. But she wanted to think. No. She didn’t want to think. Thinking about it might mean admitting there was something to what Lisa had said, and doing that was strictly against Celia’s habits, if not her principles. She couldn’t sit still. She stood up abruptly and went out of the room.

    Bob was staring fixedly at Lenda Murray. She had never been his favorite before. But THIS year, she seemed packed with extra muscle everywhere. All the women were, but Lenda was simply amazing. He stroked himself harder. The posedowns were nearly done now, so there was no need to wait. He stopped a moment. Was that a creak of the floor? He threw the blanket over himself. Damn! With the sound on her couldn’t hear anything.

    What was Bob watching? It didn’t sound like the usual basketball game. There was music, but not MTV. She stood quietly outside the room, peering through the crack in the door. Bodybuilding! He was watching female bodybuilders. She couldn’t see his hand, but from the way his body was shaking, he must be jerking off furiously. Bob! She stifled a laugh. She had never known, never even imagined. Look at him go! He must like that one, the muscular black woman. Wow. She was more muscular than most men. There was real power in that body. Power she possessed all by herself, not because some guy might admire her. She felt a little tingle of pleasure through her body as she thought about it. Wow, look at Bob go! How pathetic. So, he was turned on by a girl’s muscles and power. What did THAT mean? Bob was just like other guys. Maybe other girls had it all wrong. She loved bossing people around. Now, if she could have muscles like that black woman …. She leaned to one side considering it. The floor creaked. Shit! Now she had to stand perfectly still.

    It must have been the wind. The Pest would have just barged in if it were her. He waited, getting back into it. Now the top contestants were all out there. Oh god. Each one was so hot! He pushed the blanket off. Now was the time!

    There he goes again. What a sap he was, jerking off to girls with more muscle than he had. Bob was an athlete, but in track, with lean arms. It was funny to think about it, ridiculous to watch, but it gave her ideas. She felt her biceps. There was definitely more there than there should be. She crept away quietly, leaving the posing music and the furious shaking of Bob’s body. She’d seen enough. Bob thought she was a pest? Well, he hadn’t seen anything yet!

    Oh god! That was incredible. Perfect timing. Bob sighed and carefully wiped himself clean. He hoped the fabric on the chair wouldn’t stain.

    Frank had just arrived at Dave’s house where several other members of the team, including Harold, were polishing off the fourth pizza and watching the basketball pre-game. Frank was pacing crossly back and forth, only occasionally checking the scores flashing at the bottom of the screen, and was well into his tirade. "Just tell me, where the fuck WERE you guys? Jeez. Saturday, and none of the team was there. Except for fucking Dave, hanging out, just watching. Leaving me alone with a bunch of girls playing with weights."

    Harold looked a bit guilty. The others just avoided Frank’s eyes. "Uh, we’ll be there tomorrow, Frank. It was just, you know, one of those off days. Maybe it was a high ozone day or something."

    The others nodded at Harold’s comment, trying to see around him to the TV.


    "Yeah, I heard about that."

    "Probably gone by tomorrow."

    "Don’t give me this bullshit. I don’t believe you guys check the fucking pollution report before you come to the gym!" Frank said impatiently. "I KNOW none of you guys watch the news. Anyway, the ozone OBVIOUSLY doesn’t affect girls. Are you going to tell me the girls are tougher than you are?"

    "What’re you, calling us a bunch of girls?" Dave said, offended.

    "I didn’t say that."

    Dave pressed on. "Well maybe they ARE tougher or something. I DID watch some news today. Well, it was just a story break on Sportscenter. But there was a thing about how girls are working out more and closing the gap with guys."

    Frank rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah. Some clever guy plotted a graph with their marathon times and proved that soon they’d be running it in an hour and a half. The fact is, they had a lot more ground to make up, but their performance isn’t improving that fast anymore. Everybody knows that."

    "I saw that thing too. Some of those chicks have real muscle! For girls that is!" Harold quipped. The guys all laughed.

    "Yeah, well I’m not worried about girls with muscles. I’m thinking about guys with muscles, the guys from South Metro who are going to whup my front lineman and break my head next Saturday if you guys don’t keep up with your training."

    "Aww Frank, calm down. We’ll protect you."

    "Not if they’re working harder than you are. We can’t lose that edge! You know we have a chance to go all the way this year, but South is standing in our way. They always give us a tough game.”

    “We beat them the last two years, Frank!” Dave said proudly. "And we’ll beat them again next Friday night."

    “Yeah, well I remember from my sisters’ cheerleader days that they beat us three years in a row before that, and I don’t want my senior year to be a return to THOSE days, huh? When the cheerleaders thought they could be clever making FUN of the team? Not while I’M captain of these team!”.

    “All right, Frank. You’ve made your point. We’ll be there tomorrow."

    “And ALL week!"

    “Yeah, like we always are. Pushing the iron.” Harold sighed. It made him tired just thinking about it.

    With all of them there, they settled down to watch the tape of last night’s football game. They’d easily beaten Riverside but their playing was off, good enough to beat the last place team but not close to the level they would have to play to beat South Metro. Frank pointed out missed plays, and Dave, feeling mischievous, replayed Frank’s one intercepted pass several times.

    But Frank’s thoughts were elsewhere. Just thinking about his older sisters made Frank mad, and his younger sister, Chloe, was just like them, or even worse. Cheerleading wasn’t good enough for Chloe so she had taken up soccer, single-handedly destroying a family tradition his grandfather and grandmother had started in this town. Thank goodness for little Beth. She was only ten, but she at least looked up to him. She promised him she would be a cheerleader too when she got to high school.

    "You’re into weightlifting now?" Martin asked, surprised. "That would have been something to see!"

    "Oh come on! It’s nothing like that!" Michelle said, blushing, relieved that she was talking to Martin over the phone so he couldn’t see her. She hated the way she blushed so easily, even around Martin, even though he was probably one of her oldest friends now. "It was just for fun. Sandy has me on this exercise kick."

    "Oh, Sandy." Martin said. "Maybe we could do it together some time. I probably should work out more."

    "Yeah, right! You could be the real jock!" Michelle laughed.

    "What do you mean by that?" Martin said quickly.

    "Nothing, really. Just … I know you like other things more, like your music, and the Yankees."

    "Don’t mention the Yankees! I can’t believe they let the Marlins beat them."

    "I know," she lied. "I’m really sorry. Let’s change the subject. Did you finish the math?"

    "Yeah, it’s not too bad. I can give you mine tomorrow. Do you want to meet at Starbucks, like at 11?"

    "Sure! Oh, wait. No, I can’t. I’m meeting Sandy for a run and then … well, we might go to the gym again."

    "You’re joking! I can’t believe this."

    "You should be encouraging me. I’m really going to get into shape. It really feels good. Really, Martin, maybe you SHOULD try it. You could meet us there. And then I can help you with the history after. I know you hate writing these things, even though you always have really good ideas.&qu


    You are the master Marknew! A great secound chapter.



    A good second chapter…looking forward to Sunday..things s/b interesting!


    Really cool development of the ideas, Marknew. I love those gradual changes you describe so well. Thanks!


    Man no Johnny Depp piratical action to save these poor saps from the Aztec’s curse!

    I like this second chapter especially how it gives a glimmer into how we as humans are set up as pleasure machines. Making love brings us pleasure so as to make more humans. Eating gives us pleasure in order to keep us from starving before passing on our genes. Now you’ve gone and done it though… the primal okey-dokey physiochemical payback is wired for ladies to -in the voice of Hans and Frans- PUMP UP!

    The motivations for these ladies are nice as well. Thanks for the effort you putin and the sharing of your writing, 🙂

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