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Pumping Iron with Santa

Sarina Dorie is the author of award-winning, YA paranormal romance novel, Silent Moon. Her Puritan and alien love story, Dawn of the Morning Star, is due to come this year with Wolfsinger Publications. She has sold over sixty-five short stories to markets like Daily Science Fiction, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Orson Scott Cardís IGMS, Cosmos, and Sword and Laser.

By day, Sarina is a public school art teacher, artist, belly dance performer and instructor, copy editor, fashion designer, event organizer, and probably a few other things. By night, she writes. As you might imagine, this leaves little time for sleep. You can find info about her short stories and novels on her website: sarinadorie.com.

I was on my third rep of overhead presses when Mitch shouted over the nineties punk rock blaring from the gym's speakers, "Bro, check out the guns on the big guy in the red suit."
Mitch dropped his dumbbell with a thunk and commenced to gawk. I glanced over my shoulder and did a double take at the man across from us in the gym. A jolly old man in a red muscle shirt was bench-pressing three hundred and ninety pounds in the corner. His hair was long and white and matched his wiry beard. For the briefest of moments I felt a spark of elation. My head filled with visions of sugarplums and twenty-pound jars of protein powder. I blinked the merry sensation away.
"You know who that is, don't you?" Mitch asked.
I went back to overhead presses. "Enough, man. You say that about every old geezer who comes in." Just because this was North Pole Fitness didn't mean our membership extended to the actual North Pole. I liked the gym because it was open late and I could go in during my midnight dinner break.
I crossed to the other side where I did squats with a two-fifty. The swole old man walked over and put five forty-five-pound weights on each side of his bar.
"Wussup?" I said.
He nodded to me.
I would swear I heard a jingle with his every power clean over the loud music but I didn't see any bells.
Mitch mouthed something to me where he sat on the bench in front of the mirror. I ignored him and set the weight to two hundred and thirty. Eventually Mitch caught my eye. "Ask for three wishes."
I shook my head. That was genies. Didn't he know anything? Besides, I wasn't going to harass some old guy getting a work out.
The old man grunted as he finished his second rep. On his right arm was a tattoo of barbed wire. It wasn't like I was trying to stare, but I couldn't help noticing it was red and white striped, like a candy cane.
I downed a gulp of water from a gallon jug. The jolly old man wiped sweat from his brow with a towel.
"Nice tat. Local artist?" I asked.
"Something like that." He lifted his chin. "Yours?"
Mitch mouthed into the mirror. "Ask if we can ride in his sleigh."
I gave him the slightest shake of the head. I looked down at the outline of a molar on my calf. "I got this back when I first started my current occupation."
We both went back to our next rep. He was courteous enough to wipe the sweat off his bar when he was done. He took a swig from a water bottle filled with white liquid.
"If you don't mind me asking, what kind of protein are you on?"
His red cheeks turned as round as apples as he smiled. "Ever since I switched to milk and cookies I've been getting mad gains."
I laughed. "What do you eat on your cheat day?"
"Chicken." His rock hard abs contracted as he laughed. "I usually do cross fit but I was tired of hauling the sleigh and throwing bags of presents around."
Laying his finger on the side of his nose, he gave me a nod and disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"Bro, that was Santa!" Mitch said.
I went back to my locker and showered. By the time I came out, Mitch already sported bunny ears and a bushy tail. He carried a heavy basket of eggs in his ripped arms. I changed into the insipid pink leotard and tutu expected in my employment. I slung the fifty-pound bag of quarters over my shoulder, ready to get back to work as the tooth fairy.
Not all of us could be Santa.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Author Comments

For years I have been living in a world of science fiction and fantasy where robots fall in love with vacuum cleaners and tooth fairies battle the bogeymen lurking under the bed. "Pumping Iron With Santa" takes place in the same fairytale/paranormal world as my "Dear Jezzy" series of love advice columns and my unpublished novel, "Wrath of the Tooth Fairy." I wrote this story at Christmas because my critique group has a tradition of a holiday reading in which we read holiday-themed, flash fiction stories we write for fun. In writing this story, I was thinking about gender stereotypes, Christmas, Bro Science and eating too many holiday cookies--or maybe just weight gain from too many holiday goodies. Since I don't usually talk like a bro, I needed to do lots of grueling research by watching hours of Bro Science (http://mikeandgian.com/) until my brain was swol with my mad gains in body builder vocabulary. It was lots of fun.

More stories from my Wrath of the Tooth Fairy world can be found on my website at: sarinadorie.com.

- Sarina Dorie
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