It was 10:30 by the time Raezana left the house.  It didn’t take her long to drive the 10 blocks to the gym.  Traffic was so much lighter during non-rush hour times.  She told herself to skip work more often.  Then she would be able to drive around town without losing her mind due to being stuck in traffic.

Raezana parked her car in the parking lot and walked into the gym.  She said hello to the receptionist as she swiped her membership card.

The receptionist looked at her with surprise and asked her, “Did you get fired?”

“Not yet!  Maybe tomorrow,” Raezana responded with sarcastic enthusiasm.  She had not considered the possibility that she’d get in trouble for not showing up to work.  If Se’Quasha bombed while trying to do the presentation by herself, it would set them back.  But Raezana didn’t care.  She did all of the work in her department, and that fact would be all the more obvious in her absence.  Maybe the boss would give her a raise when he realized how much dead weight she was forced to work with on a daily basis.

Raezana looked into the aerobics room.  A floor-length mirror covered the front wall of the classroom.  Mike stood at the front of the room, cycling through music tracks on his iPod.  He plugged the iPod into the stereo, intensely focused on the task at hand.  His toned shoulders and biceps begged for attention under his t-shirt while his forearms flexed and relaxed as he moved.  Wow.

Raezana wondered why he taught a class as wimpy as Cardio Kickboxing.  She imagined that he’d be better suited to fight in the center of a boxing ring, sweating it out as he beat an unworthy opponent into oblivion.  Instead, he was an aerobics instructor.  Maybe he fought on the side…

“Excuse me.”

Raezana’s thoughts were interrupted as a woman pushed past her into the room.  Raezana had been so preoccupied with her admiration of Mike that she had stopped in the doorway.  She broke her gaze and looked around as she quickly moved into the studio.  She recognized a couple of women in the room from her evening class, but most of them were unfamiliar to her.

Surprisingly, about half of the women in the room were gorgeous, a far cry from the housewives that she had expected.  Was this class Cardio Kickboxing or Gym Modeling?  Raezana suddenly felt underdressed.  She should have worn her push-up sports bra today.  She felt invisible.  Mike would never notice her.  She was doomed to die alone.  Raezana started to feel ill.  It was what she had always feared.  Her nightmare was manifesting on this, her perfect Monday.

Mike turned away from the stereo.  He smiled as he noticed Raezana standing in the middle of the room, looking bewildered with a gym bag in her hand.  “We’re going to start in 2 minutes,” he announced to the class.  Raezana realized that he was looking at her and quickly threw her gym bag to the side of the room.  The bag stopped about 5 feet away from the wall.

Raezana ran over to the bag and kicked it to the wall.  She should have left the bag in the locker room.  In her excitement, she had forgotten to stop by the locker room to lock up her stuff.  She would just have to keep an eye on it during class.  She looked at the women in the room again.  They *seemed* trustworthy.  She was going to have to keep an eye on them anyway.

Loud hip hop music began blasting from the speakers.  Mike positioned himself in the front center of the room and faced the mirror.  His gym pants were loose and tight at the same time.  “We’re going to start with a warm up,” he bellowed and began doing jumping jacks.

The class followed Mike’s lead.  They jumped, kicked and ran in place as they danced and beat up imaginary opponents.  By the end of class, Raezana was dripping with sweat.  She hated being sweaty.  She tended to sweat easily whenever she exerted herself.  She’d noticed that she sweat more intensely in Mike’s class than in any other class she took at the gym.

Raezana walked over to her gym bag and pulled out her water bottle.  She felt a little light-headed, but no more so than usual.  As she drank water, she overheard a girl giggling as she engaged Mike in conversation.  Raezana rolled her eyes.  That girl was trying too hard.  She hadn’t even broken a sweat during class.  Mike wouldn’t be impressed by her lack of commitment.

Raezana stood by the wall, drinking water and waiting for the girl to lose interest in Mike and leave.  Minutes later, she had emptied her bottle but their conversation was still going strong.  Raezana sighed and picked up her gym bag.  The room was empty except for the three of them.  She could not justify sticking around any longer without being awkward.