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I worry about my gym instructor.
An alarm has been going off in his home for four days in a row now, the amount of his online exercise videos I have completed. His name is Wayne, and he has children. Sometimes he uses them as weights to show us how strong he is. He is very strong.
‘Say no to drugs, guys,’ he shouts as he flexes his bulging biceps. ‘This is a ‘roid free zone.’
The alarm beeps again. It could be a smoke alarm. Or carbon monoxide. I think I should tell him, but I was taught not to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs. Why would a grandmother do that? Perhaps I should refer to him as a grandfather. He launches into burpees.
‘My wife will be back tomorrow,’ he tells us while jumping.
Where has his wife gone, I wonder. We are meant to be staying home to save lives, after all. She is Israeli, his wife. He likes to tell us that.
‘My wife is a Jew. I can say that because she is from the Homeland, and I am Black. Black Lives Matter.’
Pip goes the alarm. Maybe his wife will notice and fix it when she comes back from wherever it is she has gone. It could be slowly suffocating him and his kids to death and he doesn’t even know it. What if he can’t hear the pip because the pitch is too high? Can no one in his house hear it? Surely his children can. They are young and apricot stone brown with beautiful ringlets. There are two of them, and they could be boys or girls.
‘Check out my socks today. Spider-Man.’ He shows us an ankle and kisses his bicep. ‘Now drop and give me 15 more burpees. I don’t want any moaning from you lot, shut up!’
I jump up and down, up and down. I am trying to be soft-footed because I am the second floor flat and I don’t want to upset my neighbour downstairs. She is South African and works as a video editor. I see from the multiple letters she receives from HMRC that the company is called ‘Splice Girl,’ which I think is a great name for her business. I want to tell her this, but we have never met, even though I have lived here for three years. I place my ear to the floor: It’s okay, I can hear her snoring. It is 4.30 in the afternoon.
Pip pip pip. My cat darts under my chest and I nearly crush her but I don’t. Pip pip pip. Should I message my gym instructor? Will he thank me? Will he remember me from the time before? Maybe he really doesn’t know. He’s running out of time.
Pip pip pip.
The 45-minute video is coming to an end. I know what will happen. I will shut my laptop and shower and have a glass of wine and check the numbers for the day. I will forget all about the alarm when I cannot hear it anymore. Just like with all the other videos I have done by now. All smudging into one like the colours on a paint palette.
Pip pip pip.
I shut the laptop. I no longer have a portal into Wayne’s world. I am no longer worried about my gym instructor. I am alone again.