Vol. 1, Issue 2, Isometric Exercises

by Matt Dube

A sign on an easel announced his presence: a hypnotist, who’d meet anyone with a gym membership who wanted his help. I wasn’t interested, I told myself, and went to change in the locker room. When I came out, there was a crowd of otherwise ordinary looking people in bathing suits, grouped like ten pins in the lobby. I stood screened by a pole to watch him lead them in hefting imaginary kettlebells. They strained and stretched; they rolled their headbones on their neckbones like no skin hemmed them, head to body. They stood so straight. The hypnotist said something (I didn’t hear) and they moved as a group to the poolside. They stood obediently shoulder to shoulder at the edge of the lazy river, toes lined up at the tiled edge. I stepped closer and saw him give a signal to disrobe: the women pulled straps from shoulders, the men stepped free of knee-length shorts. I wanted to see what they thought they were seeing, that glorious aquamarine river Jordan they imagined they were stepping into. Instead I saw their broad and fluted backs, firm and flabby asses, muscles moving beneath the skin. I was embarrassed for them, walking waves forward into the water. I could never do that, I said to myself. You don’t know that, a voice in my head said. I haven’t asked you yet.


Matt Dube teaches creative writing and American lit at a small mid-Missouri University. He is the fiction editor of the online journal H_NGM_N and aspires to be published in all the magazines with women's names.

TWITTER: @matthewdube; GOODREADS: MattDube