Turning the kettlebell upside down, pulling it into my chest, I do twenty squats. It hurts. Have to touch my knees with my elbows or the squat isn’t deep enough. Katerina isn’t here watching me, but in my mind’s eye she’s there, saying “that’s not deep enough, get closer to the floor.”
Really, the amount of exercise I do, I ought to be skinny, I think, as I put the kettlebell down on the floor, pick up the 10kg dumbbell and start lifting it up and down. Lifting weights fills an emptiness at the heart of my being: the place where I obsess about Seb or feel sad or worried. Lifting heavy weights makes it better. It quietens the voice that tells me I’m not good enough.
Suddenly, there’s the sound of voices and then the unmistakable figure of my Mum enters the gym. She’s wearing a fuchsia, turquoise and lilac skirt, a white top and sandals with Pom-poms on the toes.
“There you are,” she says.
“Didn’t my brother tell you I was here?” I say.
Mum strides across the gym and sits down behind me on the bench which I’m sitting on, lifting a dumbbell up and down above my head to tone my triceps.
“How do you manage not to drop that weight on your head?” She says.
Looking at her in the mirror that’s in front of us, I say “it’s one of my skills.”
“What do you want to do for supper?” Mum says.
“Eat some food in the hotel?” I say. Can’t face another restaurant meal after the excesses of lunch and I know that the parentals have provisions in their fridge. Don’t see how anyone could want to go out for dinner after the amount of lunch we consumed.
“And after that?” Mum says.
Putting the dumbbell down, I lift the kettlebell again, turn it upside down and start squatting.
“Go back to bed,” I say.
“OK darling, I’ll give you something to eat. Your father will want to go out on the town,” Mum says.
Had better go and find my supper…
*2014. By Craig Saunders. Urban noir novel about a weightlifter.