The Things You Notice When You Start to Exercise

Push-ups on your bedroom floor. Twenty, then twenty-five, forty. Feel your muscles grow sore. New lines in your triceps and shoulders. Notice your verve. Notice the the itch of the carpet on your fingertips. Notice the dirt in the carpet, and the dried roach, and the serpent. The serpent. Hissing at you from under the bed. Coiled and slick and fat as a tire. His black diamond head as big as yours. His eyes open, red spotlights on your skin. He bares his fangs, licks his evil teeth. Notice his tongue, thin and purple like a vein, like a knot, like a noose. Notice the bed, raised three feet on his hump. Notice the shape of the hump, consider what it reminds you of. Your brother. Missing since Monday. Hear the serpent and convince yourself he did not hiss, “You’re next.” Head down. Pay attention to your form. Notice the color of the carpet. Stare at the carpet and only the carpet. Convince yourself you saw nothing. Convince yourself the carpet is beige and everything is okay. Ten more push-ups, notice the stretch in your biceps and back. Ten more, and then ten, and your head is clear. Stand up, cross today off your calendar, and notice the pump in your chest, the satisfaction of hard work, how good it feels to close your eyes and plug your fingers in your ears and walk out of your bedroom shouting, over and over, “There is no snake.”