I wake up before him. Every morning before him. For I must ride the machine. The machine he bought me for Christmas. The machine he didn’t even bother to wrap. The machine he told me I’d better use since he paid so much for it.
I cycle. I imagine I’m cycling far away from him. But this bike, like my life, is a glistening, upper-middle-class prison. And this bike, like my life, is stationary.
He wants proof. Proof I’m using it. Proof of my progress. My journey of going from a size four to a size two. He wants to see me use it. He wants to see. I begin to record my journey for him.
As I cycle, I dream of a life where my partner didn’t buy me expensive exercise equipment knowing it would force me into a daily exercise pact I never asked for. I dream I am biking towards a future where my partner will cook me dinner and offer me extra dinner rolls. The nice, fluffy ones. The ones with the golden shimmer as they rise in the oven.
The lady on the screen says my name. Grace. Congrats on 50 rides Grace. I’m in shock. I’d almost forgotten my name. Only women who exercise daily deserve a name.
I feel as though I am resigned to the life of riding. Riding and riding and getting nowhere. Until… that resignation turns to anger.
Yes, yes. Let anger fuel these pedals. Let anger fuel these feet.
Great job Grace, the instructor says. Great job. I scoff.
By next Christmas, I shall have the strength. The strength to destroy him. The strength to strangle him with my thighs, then vanish into suburbia without a trace. I will break him with the very thing he tried to break me with.
Next year, I will destroy him. But for now, I cycle.