I stand at the top of the steps that lead to the office copier, filing cabinets and supply closet. My toes creep closer to the edge. My left hand grips the railing, fingers curled tight around the polished wood bar. I press my right palm flat against the wall. Eyes cast down, I observe the two steps I’m about to conquer. Deep breaths fill my lungs as I mentally prepare.
A coworker scanning something at the copier looks up. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Boot camp.” I don’t elaborate, conserving my energy to will myself down the stairs.
He chuckles, his head going back and his hands slapping against his thighs before he grabs his paperwork and retreats to his office.
I extend my right leg, feel the throb of my quad, the ache of my calf. My knee bends and I lower myself down, wincing in agony. When my foot connects with the platform, I praise my accomplishment, muttering, “halfway there” as I prep for the next step. That’s when I hear another coworker approaching from behind.
“Shut up!” I warn as I lurch forward, knees locked like Frankenstein, and land the best I can without (a) falling on my face or (b) using my muscles any more than necessary.
Later that afternoon, comfortably seated at my desk, sipping water and prepping spreadsheets, another coworker stops by my area.
“How’re you holding up?”
I pivot in my chair, grabbing the desk and using my arms to pull me around. My feet drag against the industrial carpeting.
“I have to pee,” I confess.
“What do you mean you can’t?”
“I mean, peeing is tantamount to a squat. My quads are shot. I’d rather have a UTI than chance standing up. Do you think people will mind if I use my chair to navigate the office?”
An hour later, my bladder ready to burst, I wave the white flag to nature and hobble to the bathroom. With my panties around my ankles and my skirt hiked up to my chest, I grip the handicap bar on the wall and start to squat. Except halfway down, my legs give out and I just drop the rest of the way. My spine slams into the back of the toilet, rattling ceramic echoes off the tile floor. I am about as graceful as airdropped cargo tumbling out of a passing plane.
“You okay? You were in there for like fifteen minutes,” my dad says when I come out, half of my weight resting on the flimsy door handle.
“I was finished after one minute but needed the next fourteen to stand back up.”
“Nice. Wanna borrow my walker?”
“Cute. You know, life would be so much easier if I were innately athletic or, like, if it was socially acceptable to ingest a steady diet of Speed. And to think I thought the hardest part would be getting up at 5AM.”