NaNoWriMo 2020 Romance Novel Chapter 15

Chapter 15: Matthew

I don’t think too many people believe in love at first sight. I know I didn’t used to.

Now I do.

I don’t even know her name yet, but I know that I love her.

Dad would say I’m bonkers.

Mom would say I’m nuts.

Both would ask: how can you love a lady whose name you don’t know?

What they don’t know is just how beautiful she is.

So far, I’ve barely managed to talk to her.

The laundry room isn’t the best place to have a real conversation with somebody.

The next time I got a chance to talk to her, she was carrying groceries up three flights of stairs. Probably also not the best time to chat.

Now, I haven’t seen her for a coule of weeks.

Maybe she’s moved out, but I’m sure I would have noticed that.

She and I would make such a great couple, if only she would talk to me.

My phone beeps.

I look at the notification.

My calendar is reminding me that I have an appointment at ten, which is in an hour.

Well, I’d better get going and stop dreaming about the lady in 4A.

Half an hour later, I walk into the gym.

I’m not the kind of guy who played high school football.

In fact, I’m the last person somebody would pick to be on any kind of athletic team. It’s not that I’m weak, slow, or uncoordinated, but I’ve always been the kind of person who only moves to get from point A to point B with the least amount of effort.

“Hi, can I help you?”

A guy in his thirties is sitting behind the reception desk.

“Hi, I’m Matthew here to meet with Luke.”

“Luke? He’s sick today. Sorry about that. I guess nobody called you.”

[Blank] it. I’ll have to reschedule.

“Would you like to work with someone else?”


He presses some keys on the computer.

“Okay. So, Martin’s free at 10:30 to do intake. Does that work for you?”


While I’m waiting, I read.

At 10:25, another man in his thirties comes into the room.

“Hello, I’m Martin. Are you Matthew?”

“That’s me.”

“Nice to meet you.” He extends his hand, and we shake. His grip is just a little too firm.

Once he gives me my hand back, he invites me to follow him into his office. He points to a chair, and I sit.

“I have a few questions. What are your training goals?”

“Um, I don’t really have any.”

“Okay. Why are you starting an exercise program?”

“My doctor told me to.”

Martin smiles.

“Did he make any specific recommendations?”

“Not really. He just told me I needed to move more. Not to lose weight or to eat better, but just to get off my [blank] and move it.”

“Are there any exercises that you enjoy doing?”

“No. I hate ’em all. He said I could think of it as if it’s a meeting I have to attend if I want to keep my job. I may hate it, but the calendar says to do it, so I thought I’d try that. I never miss a deadline or an appointment.”

“Okay, I can do that. How many times per week would you like to meet with your exercise program?”

“The doctor said at least three. I don’t want to say I’m just doing the bare minimum, so can we make it four?”

“We can do that for sure. What exercise do you hate the most?”

“Huh, I’ve never been asked that before.”

“Take your time.”

“I haven’t done most of them, but I’m a practical guy, so the ones that look the most pointless drive me crazy. Nobody lies on the floor doing pushups in real life.”

He nods.

“Let’s go to the gym.”

I follow him out of his office, and a minute later, we enter the gym. There’s a ton of equipment and a few people.

Martin points to his watch.

“Your meeting with exercise starts right now. Walk on the spot.”


“Walk on the spot. This is a warm up.”

Feeling stupid, I do so for a few seconds.

“Good. Keep going.”

I do.

“Great. Now march.”


“Yes. March on the spot.”

Hoping nobody’s watching, I start to march.

After a minute or so, he says, “Okay, great.”

He points to the floor.

“Do ten pushups.”

“Pardon me?”

“Ten pushups.”


“This is your meeting with exercise. It’s important. Ten pushups.”

I really hope nobody is watching as I lie down on the floor and try to imitate the pushups I’ve seen my classmates doing.

Scotty was the best athlete in my class. He was also the most popular boy. Many girls asked him out, and he went out with a few of them.

“One,” Martin says. “Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.”

My muscles start to burn, but he said ten, so there must be a total of ten.

Come on, Scotty, help me out a little.

“Eight. Nine. Ten!”

I collapse to the floor.

Thanks, Scotty.

I really should look him up some time.

“Okay, now get up and run.”


“Yes. Quickly now. You’re in the middle of the road, and a maniacal driver’s coming at you in a Cadillac.”

“A Cadillac?”

“That’s right.”

Stiffly, I get up off the floor and look at Martin. He points to a track.


Tentatively, I start walking.

“Vroom!” Martin says. “It’s getting closer. Sprint!”

Feeling dumber than ever, I take off running.

Once, twice, three times I speed around that track.

The other people in the gym must be very polite, because I don’t hear any of them laughing.

Maybe they’ll wait until I’m gone and then roll on the floor like kids who’ve just heard the funniest story in the world.

Well, I’ll give ’em something to laugh about, [blank] it!

I speed up and keep going, even though my legs are burning like gasoline in a Cadillac.

“Vroom!” Martin yells as I’m just about finished the fourth lap. “Just a little faster and you’ll make it. Vroom!”

I fly the last few yards.

“Walk one lap.”

Once I catch my breath, I say, “What’s next?”

“I’ll let you know when you finish that lap. By the way, that was a mile you just ran.”

“A mile?”

I doubt I’ve ever walked a mile, let alone run one.

At the end of my walk, Martin says, “Twelve pushups.”

I drop to the floor and become Scotty, or try to.

“. . . Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve!”

I get up off the floor.

“Run a mile.”

He doesn’t play Cadillac, but he doesn’t have to.

I imagine that at the end of the run, I’ll meet the lady from 4A, and this time, she’ll tell me her name, smile at me, and ask me to help her carry her groceries. Maybe I need muscles, after all.

After the second run, I walk one lap and then Martin shows me some stretches.

“Your meeting with exercise is now over.”

We book my next three meetings with exercise, and then I wave goodbye and go home.

The next morning, I feel sore.

When I mention this to Martin at our next appointment, he smiles and says, “Good. It’s just the minutes of the meeting.”





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