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Women's Fitness

A luminous brand new Maserati, with sleek lines and frameless doors, swished onto the service road, like a Batmobile. “Hey, beautiful,” a man's voice traveled from inside the car.

Calla looked around...Was he talking to her? The man in a Maserati?

She was not the kind of woman who could stop a sports car by jogging down the street. She was the kind who didn't have a date on Thursday night. The most popular night of the week when people were falling in love, eating shrimp from crystal goblets, drinking wine in galleries, she was trying to lose weight. The extra twenty pounds she carried around her lower body, like a lifebuoy. She hid them well under long skirts and slacks, but in the summer her thighs chafed so much she had to wear long underwear that looked like 18th century pantaloons. Cardio, she read in Women's Fitness, specifically running, was the answer to her problem. After work she changed into her Lulu Lemon tights and a cropped top, put on her backpack, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, caught a train from Metrotech, got off at Church and started running on Ocean Parkway. This was her first summer running. She wasn't very good at it. Her hands flapped like a newborn gosling trying to take off, her backpack swung from side to side, and her leotards wedged into her buttocks with every stride. She ran for three blocks and stopped at a red light, heaving like an asthmatic, then strolled for eight blocks watching the pink light receding in the distance, where her house was, still miles away.

“I like the way you run,” the stranger flirted, driving slowly beside her.

She ignored him and continued jogging. What was a Maserati doing on Ocean Parkway? Calla speculated, taking a mental survey of the neighborhood's demographics and income. From Church to 18th Avenue - renters on food stamps, from Avenue I to Avenue X – Hasidic Jews.

“Talk to me, pretty lady,” the young man pestered.

Serial killer and rapist, she decided and took off, like an Olympic sprinter from Kenya.

“You shouldn't be afraid. I am just trying to say hello.”

“Leave me alone,” she shouted, gaining speed she didn't know she was capable of.

“Please don't be frightened, I am a good guy,” he laughed, following her in his fancy car.

She couldn't deny it - the man did have a nice face, sparkling eyes and irresistible smile.

“I’m busy. Can't you see I'm running?!” Calla yelled, looking straight ahead.

“You don’t have to run so hard. You look amazing.”

Definitely not a serial killer, she concluded.

“Come on, beautiful. What's your name? Let me drive you home.”

“I don't need you to drive me home. I’m exercising. I will make it home even if I have to crawl on all fours,” she declared with the defiance and perseverance of a pro athlete.

“A passionate woman, I like that!” he exclaimed. “Let me take you out to dinner, then.”

“No!” she replied, her chin up.

“How about this,” he bargained. “You go on running. I'll pick you up for dinner later?”

When a Maserati pulls up - you get in, she recited in her head, as if it was an old proverb. Regardless of what your situation is - you get in. Like the call of the wild - it must be answered! She was only vaguely aware there was no such proverb. She had made it up.

“You know what,” she stopped, wheezing, a thousand needles piercing her left side. “You got a deal. Write down my address and pick me up at eight.”

Victorious, the man sped away and Calla continued running in the twilight. An hour later she finally reached home. She showered and washed her hair with highlight-activating shampoo to bring out the blonde streaks, put on her finest push-up bra and the highest heels she could find. I guess I am beautiful, she mused in the mirror, getting ready for her Thursday night date.

She'd never been inside a Maserati before - soft leather upholstery with contrast stitching and two side panels, converging in the center of the dashboard with a blue-faced clock. Calla felt like she was in a spaceship, and her captain, the man she just met while jogging, was asking her for permission to take off. She did notice that Batman was sitting a little too close to the wheel, but she didn’t care. The wind was blowing in her hair and tickling the hills of her large bosom, and it was a beautiful balmy night, and she was a hot blonde in a Maserati.

When they arrived at the restaurant, he handed the keys to the valet. She got out of the car and turned around. But where was her date? It was only when the Maserati disappeared that she saw him in full view, standing in the middle of the street under a lamp post, all four feet and nine inches of him. He wasn't a midget, but he was so small, she almost cried out in shock. Perhaps, wearing the highest heels she could find was not a good idea, she realized on the spot. But even if she took off her shoes, he would barely arrive at her collarbone. She was gloomy throughout the entire dinner. Her shrimp, succulent and fresh from the sea, was sitting on the rim of a crystal goblet, untouched. Her date, a nice enough fellow who made a killing when he sold his software start-up to Google, was talking about the ninety-eight-year-old grandmother he loved to visit on Ocean Parkway. But Calla wasn’t listening. She felt betrayed. This man shouldn’t be driving around in a Maserati and deceiving young women working hard on improving their figure. When he dropped her off at home, he stretched himself up on tiptoe and tried to kiss her.

“Thank you for dinner,” she smiled, as she slithered away.

Next day when she woke up she cringed, remembering the hardships and shortcomings of last night. But as the weeks wore on, and her fury subsided, and the lonesomeness of single life set in, she thought about Batman and wondered - what does height have to do with anything? And then she spent her entire summer running up and down Ocean Parkway at sunset, and even though the diameter of her thighs shrunk considerably, she never saw the Maserati again.

Marina Rubin's work had appeared in over seventy magazines including  Asheville Poetry Review, Dos Passos, 5AM, Coal City and Skidrow Penthouse. She is an associate editor of the literary magazine Mudfish and a 2013 recipient of COJECO Blueprint Fellowship. Her fourth book, a collection of flash fiction Stealing Cherries received rave reviews. "...One of the richer contemporary visions of America that I've read, " proclaimed NANO Fiction.