Back to Issue Seventeen.

girl fitness

BY JOANNA NOVAK

 

The nurses leave school in fours. Royal blue scrubs, white smock, white sneaks. Their ponytails are high and smooth; they could be fitness models demoing lunge form in booty shorts.

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The nurses, though, are not nurses; they are nursing students and so share a station with the fitness models, who may be more athletic than others acquired by their agency but not athletes by profession.

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In rows, in classrooms, sipping iced coffees cupped in plastic and Styrofoam, with trapezoidal bags and frosty lip gloss, the nurses-to-be study slides and wear stethoscopes. If they practice long enough, they will take my pulse.

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Thanks to fitness models, my routine takes form. The curtsey lunge is not a curtsey, but a bending, with knees canted, glutes fired.

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Cant is not can’t, I write on the chalkboard, drawing a quora.

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≠ does not mean I know math; shorthand, I’m lazy.

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I’m short, though—5’2” and ¾”: when I lunge my fingertips touch the ground.

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I have a better life expectancy than my tall counterparts, the fitness models.

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My legs thicken from routine and my ponytail lags, never as dramatic as the nurses-to-be.

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If only my spine could be stretched, a length of gum on the finger of the girl universe. I would primp it with pearls, weave my ponytail around it like garland, a banister, strung cranberries, every festive hope. Akimbo, it could lunge. A nurse may reshape it—a chiropractic nurse, with hands like hammers.

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Those nurses know me—a brick, awaiting model glue, primed for the laying.     

 

 

JoAnna Novak is a writer of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic, McSweeney's, DIAGRAM, Quarterly West, The Rumpus, and Paste. Her debut novel, I MUST HAVE YOU, will be available from Arcade Publishing in 2017.

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