The Instructor

by James Fleming

She was a dream. She stood in front of the class, five foot two inches of floral print lycra encased heaven. Curvy hips, small rounded bosom, fresh blushing cheeks, a delicate lightly freckled nose, blue eyes, and blond hair pulled back in a pony tail.

``Hi! I'm filling in today for your regular instructor. I'm trying out for the position of instructor. Reena and Chris are going to be evaluating my performance.'' I glanced back at the two senior instructors, lounging at the back of the room, eyeing my dream critically.

``Okay, we're going to try some stretching.'' We followed her moves to the beat of some seventies dance song. Hip stretches, calf stretches, hamstrings, achilles tendon, ankles and metatarsals. I watched my little bit of heaven sway and stretch, pony tail bobbing, smile bright and cheery.

She took us through a really thorough set. I was impressed. The upper back and shoulders went okay, but during the fourth and fifth lumbar stretches, while my dream was effortlessly touching the floor behind her with her hands, a cry went up in the back of the room. I tore my eyes away from her and looked back. The other male in the class had overextended, slipped, and broken his back while tumbling over backwards. Poor bastard.

``Now what did I tell you about breathing?'' The instructor stopped and pointed. ``Now that's exactly what happens when you don't breath properly. Someone help him up, he'll be okay, just walk it out.'' Reena and Chris moved forward, lifted him to his feet and made him shuffle around, alternately pushing each leg. He moaned a bit in pain but tried to go along with it, smiling palely, ``I'll be okay...''

She interrupted, her little hands on defiant hips. ``Don't keep looking at him, we only have an hour! LET'S MOVE IT!''

All eyes went back to my dream. Her hair gleamed golden in the fluorescents, her arms were all sinewy and graceful looking. She smelled of flowers and summer afternoons. She changed the tape to the extended version of the theme to Flashdance. She started us on the next routine.

I watched her lithe body, mesmerized. She leaped and ducked, arms tucked, then extended, in out, in out, ``Leg's up! Breathe!'' The class bounced up and down, our lost classmate forgotten in the rush of endorphines. We twirled and jumped to her expert tutelage. I couldn't stop looking at her. I wiped sweat out of my eyes.

``Double time! Move it! And one! And two! And one! And two! Hey! Wew!'' She stepped up the pace. I glanced back. Chris and Reena had given up on the guy and had him propped up on the floor between their two chairs. They were smiling at the new instructor, apparently pleased.

``You! Pay attention! Lift those legs!'' She pointed at me! She saw me! I tried harder. The pace of the song increased. She continued, I tried to keep the sequence straight... two forward jumps, three steps back, a whirl, a forward roll to a handstand... Slippery hands, gasping students. I could do it... she would see me and be proud!

Next song. That Suzanne Vega song. She increased the pace again, blood sang in my ears. We kicked and whirled, jumped then fell into splits, rolled, then somersaulted backwards. Sweat began openly pouring down my face, I was gasping, but loving it. All for her... she'd see.

My neighbor fell down, holding her knee and screaming, blood and white bone showing through her tights. My instructor took immediate control. ``You there! Walk it out! Breathe!'' We avoided her as she crawled to the side, crying.

Next song. Two backflips ending in a sidekick followed by a tuck and roll against the wall. Flip over to a headstand, grab your partner and slam them to the ground. ``Oof! Ah!''

``That's it! Good! Keep it up! Breathe! Triple time! How does it feel?'' She paused a brief second to lift one perfect little hand to her ear. She smiled at us. At me! We went into triple time. I struggled to keep up. Aerobic gasps mingled with the screams of the dying. Students were falling like it was finals week. Blood slicked the floor. Arms and legs scattered all around us. The few left standing started slipping on the gore, and tripped on limbs and torsos. My dream cried out in ecstacy dancing and twirling to the beat. Reena and Chris were laughing manically, applauding. Blood welled up in my mouth and I struggled to spit it out faster than it came. I stepped on someone's screaming head, crushing teeth and nose. ``Sorry...'' I smiled apologetically.

We moved and whirled and kept on. The wood ran crimson and gray with blood and brains, I slipped and thrashed as hideous howling rose up all around me and hands from below grabbed me and pulled me down to a shadowy shallow place of pain and exhaustion. My one remaining eye stayed riveted on my instructor, whatta babe, the other lolling about on my cheek while frantic dancers crushed my trachea and the beat went on and on until darkness closed in on me extinguishing my twitching limbs and labored breathing. The last thing I heard was: ``Okay! We're doing abs, everybody get mats!''

Now, it's... it's not so bad.

I can eat again. The doctor just laughed and told me that really, one lung was enough. They found my knee, and my other leg. The prosthetic arms are okay. They say the skin grafts will hold and I'll be able to speak again after they've sculpted a new tongue from remaining back muscle. I got a get well card from the instructor. I have it in a little gold frame on my bedstand. She says that she got the job and that I should stretch out a bit more before class on Wednesday.