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Exercise…His daughter was fixated. As if it was the only word she knew! And now she’d given him this diet magazine to inspire him…full of waffle about what to eat, what made you fat, what didn’t, Joe thought, flicking the pages as his knees pumped up and down. Left, right, left, right, left right. Quicker now, higher, higher! Feel the burn!

He imagined he was running in a marathon, leading the pack, or perhaps he was a greyhound on the home straight, or better still a jockey in the Grand National..let the animal make the effort…

Effort…he managed to lift his knee a fraction higher. Left, right, left, right… His daughter had told him that if he didn’t feel the burn, it wasn’t doing him good.

He didn’t know about burn, but his legs felt like jelly…his heels were barely leaving the floor now. He just hoped to God that all this exercise was registering on the fancy gadget his daughter had bought him. It looked like a wristwatch, but in some magical way it could measure his activity, and calculate how many calories he’d used, how much weight he’d lost. He extended his arm to squint at it. He didn’t understand electronics. He thought of it is more of a spy than a help.

He’d foolishly told his daughter that his doc had classed him as morbidly obese. Bi—ig mistake. Exercise, she’d said firmly Exercise, exercise, exercise…it didn’t matter how many times he told her that it was a only posh way of saying fat. But it wasn’t him at all…he was big-boned, well-built, a fine figure of  man and as for morbid. Poppycock! Morbid meant miserable and moody. You look it up, he’d told her. I’m of a cheerful disposition, ask anybody!

She wasn’t convinced, so he’d agreed to this exercise lark to please her, to shut her up. Although, between you, me and the doorpost, he had to admit that his midriff had a bit of a wobble… and his trousers were a smidgeon tight…

She’d be home from work soon. Time for one last burst…left, right, left, right, and his arms…Up down, up down…Know-it-all-George at the pub had said arm movements counted as steps…He’d better be a few pounds lighter after all this effort or she’d grumble for Britain!

At the sound of her key in the lock, Joe flopped back in his chair, knackered. All this running-on-the-spot while he sat in his armchair watching TV was exhausting—his legs felt all wobbly…

“All right, Dad?” Chloe asked. “You look hot….”

“Just all this exercise,” Joe said,managing to sound badly done by. “I hope I don’t end up looking gaunt….D’you think I can have a beer from the fridge. Cool me down…”

“Water would be best! Well, just this once,” she said when he pulled a face. “Have you any idea how many calories are in that can? Just a minute…How far have you run?”

“Miles and miles,” Joe lied. “Just got back.”

“How odd!” his daughter said and ripped the can from his hands. “It’s drizzling. You’re bone dry and you’ve still got your slippers on. “You’ve  not moved an inch from that chair all afternoon, have you?”

“Busted!” Joe muttered. “But the thought was there, Chloe…

Copyright © 2018 Betty Woodcock







zola pink roses


Remember Jo and Sylvia from a couple of days ago. Here they are again on a night out.

“Is that him,” Jo asked, leaning close to whisper in her friend’s ear.

Sylvia nodded. “Yeah, I think so. It was darkish in the club, remember.”

“I’d remember him anywhere. He’s a hunk. I’d be sure if he’d spoken to me last night.”

“A hunk! What about Vince?”

“I’m through with that louse!”

“You’re still wearing his ring.”

“Yeah,” Jo twisted it round her finger. “Do him good not to get it back.”

“I thought breaking up including throwing the ring in the man’s face to hurt his feelings. Or dropping it down a drain.”

“Yes, well, keeping it is hurting his pocket! Besides, my finger feels bare without it.”

“You still love him, don’t you?” Sylvia smiled knowingly. “Your face gives you away.”

“My face is lying!”

“Come off it, Jo! I know your Vince and my Vinnie turned out to be the same man, but, well, I don’t want him back. Not that he’d have me of course,” she added hurriedly. “You should’ve seen his face when you walked away. He was almost in tears. He loves you Jo. I’m sure of it.”
“He shouldn’t have cheated, then! Especially with you, my friend.”

“I agree, he shouldn’t have cheated. Not with anyone. He made a mistake. I made a mistake in believing he was genuine and he turned out to be a cheating liar. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot barge pole!”

“You don’t trust him?” Jo said, smiling despite herself. “Maybe I shouldn’t, either.”

“Has he cheated before?”

“No. Well, not that I know of. Ah, to hell with him! Go and get more drinks in and chat up the man at the bar.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, I’m sure. Be off with you and don’t forget the crisps.”

Jo was looking down at her hands, twisting her engagement ring, when a bunch of pink roses plopped down on the table. She started and looked up to see Vince, an apprehensive smile on his face.

“They’d run out of red ones. Jo, darling, please let’s make up.” He added a box of her favourite chocolates and a card in a red envelope. “I made a big mistake and I’m so, so sorry. I’ve been a fool. It’s you I love. When you walked away I could’ve curled up and died.”

“But you didn’t,” she said, reaching for her wine glass to give herself something to do.

“You’re still wearing my ring! Does that mean we’re still engaged?”

“I can’t get if off,” she lied.

He sat down and took her hand. She felt a tingle to her toes. “That’s odd. You always said it was loose and you were afraid of loosing it. Just like I’m afraid of loosing you…”

“You’re on probation,” she said, trying not to smile.

“Waiter?” Vince called raising his arm “A bottle of champagne over here please! Happy Valentine’s Jo.”

Sylvia, watching from the bar, smiled. Her plan had worked well.

Copyright © Betty Woodcock 2015

Photograph by courtesy of zola rgbstock.co

<>THE COTTAGE is an ebook only.