Floor Work

My wife Gloria begins attending Jenny Craig meetings and weighing her dried apricots on a tiny scale made for Keebler elves. Three times a week she exercises alone in the basement. During these workouts, I'm told to stay upstairs. I usually watch the Indians or sneak out for a Whopper--compensation for the spinach salad she will push in front of me later this evening. When I ask her what she does down there, she says cardio for thirty minutes and floor work for fifteen. I'm not sure what floor work entails, and I don't ask. I picture Gloria with her belly launched over the beige carpet pretending to swim, stretching her arms into the air in long, heavy strokes or perhaps reaching up and out into the butterfly. At night, I slip my fingers under the quilt to check her thighs for rug burns, but she nudges me away.

Tonight, I sneak downstairs, real quiet, and peek around the corner. I see a towering bouffant bopping to the encouraging, though irritating yelps of Richard Simmons. Gloria is pinched into yellow spandex. I didn't know she owned spandex and wonder how much a spandex suit costs. My eyes flit from her bouncing yellow curves to the smiling faces on the screen and I think: no one is that happy.

Gloria bends and picks up two Campbell's tomato soup cans. She flexes her biceps with great zeal. It's chilly in the basement, but puddles form around her pits, sweat slips off her neck. She trips. I almost lunge forward as if to catch her, but stop myself and stay hidden. She rubs her ankle, brow tucked into a concentrating furrow, before getting back on track. Suddenly, she doesn't look like my Gloria. I feel bad for hiding the dessert menu and all those times I told her to take the stairs, because maybe she isn't all that bad the way she is. I lean into the cool, cement wall and watch while Gloria mimics the movements on the screen--a manic flap of a jumping jack, a good old-fashioned shimmy--as she pants harder than she ever has in bed.

About the author:

Kat Gonso divides her time between her two passions: creative writing and teaching composition. She has been a reader for Chicago's Other Voices, as well as Ploughshares. Currently, she teaches composition at Emerson College in Boston.