CHAPTER: FRANK WAKES UP (DRAFT) Frank wakes to his daily 6:15 alarm. But he hits snooze, as he always does. To Frank, the 6:15 alarm is not a real wakeup call, but rather a signal that the day has almost started. Frank is under the impression he sets this alarm because waking up with time to go back to sleep is “the best thing ever”. It’s not, though. The alarm is usually met with dread. In reality, Frank has simply never acquired the self-discipline to get up on the first alarm. Sometimes, he tries to do so after stumbling across a motivational YouTube video the night before, and if he succeeds, it sure does feel great for a day or two. But regardless, Frank always ends up falling back onto his excuse of “being woken up with time to sleep more is the best thing ever”. Once he falls back into that pattern, Frank continues to sacrifice a full half hour or more of healthy sleep every single day, which makes him groggy and demoralized for the majority of his mornings. Frank chalks up this feeling to him not being a “morning person”. Frank has many of these semi-self-destructive habits, though not necessarily more than the average person today. The habits have formed mostly out of laziness, and because each one is so mundane and seemingly trivial, Frank has never consciously made the effort to change any single one. On this day, Frank eventually gets out of bed at 6:53. 6:45 is the absolute latest Frank can wake up without having to rush his routine, but Frank rarely musters the courage to rise by then, even with his blissful 6:15 warning alarm. Today, Frank is slightly dehydrated - sluggish, unfocused, and with a minor, persistent headache that’s located above and behind his left eye. Frank walks from his bed to the bathroom, finding a used 6-oz glass on his way there. The glass had been used for milk the night before, so there is a visible film coating the interior. Frank fills the glass slightly less than ⅔ of the way up, gulps the water down, and accidentally swallows a pocket of air, which makes him cough abruptly, and sends a nauseating twang up to his minor - but still persistent - headache. The water leaves a bad taste in his mouth - along with the milk-film residue, Frank lives in a county with high levels of lead in the water. Frank does own a Britta pitcher, yes - but he rarely uses it, preferring the convenience of the faucet, no matter the cost. To be clear, Frank is not dehydrated for any particular reason. He did not go out or see anyone the night before. He had simply fallen asleep watching an action movie, and the air was dry. After his refreshing drink, Frank steps into the shower, which, when the door is closed, barely contains his 5’10 frame. Every movement inside of the shower makes Frank feel cramped and claustrophobic, and his arms often graze or hit the walls as he tries to maneuver and wash. After a rushed 4-minute shower (on this day, Frank did not wash his legs or feet, nor did he use shampoo or conditioner), Frank steps out and dries off with a towel that has not been washed in 11 days. The towel had also not been hung to dry properly after Frank’s last hurried shower two days prior. Frank always takes hot showers, but never uses moisturizer afterwards, even in the wintertime. Coupled with the morning’s dehydration, after the shower, Frank’s skin resembles printer paper. His hands are even worse. Frank chalks up this phenomenon to him not being born with “good skin”. Frank walks back to his dark, unkempt bedroom and puts on his usual outfit - square-toed dress shoes, standard-fit khaki slacks, and a dress shirt from one of the cheaper, more ill-fitting brands available at Macy’s. He then makes way to his car, wrestling out a Double Chocolate PB Fudge Protein Bar from the 24-pack sitting on the counter as he passes through the kitchen. (After a week, there are only six left.) (Frank always eats one of these for breakfast, and sometimes one or two for a snack after work.) Frank gets into his car, which has a few core mechanical problems that are only getting worse. But, since Frank primarily uses his car for his commute (a quick 10 minutes each way), Frank has delayed taking it in for many months - a time period much longer than he cares to remember with accuracy. Then, Frank makes his morning commute. CHAPTER: FRANK EXERCISES (DRAFT) Frank exits his car. Frank is wearing old clothing. He wears a white Hanes t-shirt that had shrunk substantially, a pair of thick red Nike athletic shorts that go past his knees, a pair of ankle socks with holes in them, and a pair of dated running shoes that Frank calls his “athletic shoes” - ignoring the fact that they had absolutely zero padding or tread left after multiple years of ownership. Frank steps into the gym. He brushes by the front desk with headphones on. He does not make eye contact with the smiling front desk staff, even though there is no one else in sight. Frank never stretches before his workout for one primary reason: Fear. Frank feels self-conscious laying down on the stretching mat in a vulnerable position with so many people around him. Frank belongs to a casual $10/month gym, so there are always people milling about and socializing. Frank is deathly afraid he will be noticed on the mat and talked about. Frank also notices there is already another person on the stretching mat. The person is a woman. Frank immediately discounts the thought of stretching beside her, even though the mat could very comfortably accommodate both of them. He doesn’t want to disturb her. So, Frank doesn’t stretch. As such, Frank’s muscles are very tight. Frank is also dehydrated. He had not taken a sip of water in close to four hours. His last sip of water was around 4 PM. After leaving work at 5 PM, he had returned home. The plan was to go to the gym right after work, but Frank had delayed by browsing the internet for close to three hours without taking a sip of water once. He had arrived at the gym at a little after 8 PM with a dry mouth. Frank had also eaten two Double Fudge PB Chocolate protein bars in this timespan, and the bars were very high in sodium. Frank always kicks things off with a quick jog on the treadmill. He walks to a treadmill facing the wall and adjusts the speed to +5, which is not a challenging pace. Frank does not know proper running form, so his feet slam down on the treadmill as he runs. Frank runs for just under five minutes. Frank always sets the timer to 5:00, but he always hops off a few seconds early because he’s out of breath. “Good enough,” he thinks. Frank is panting as he gets off the treadmill. But, since the gym is chilly and Frank’s clothes are worn down, Frank does not break a sweat during his warmup. Frank quietly gasps for air as he begins to walk across the room to the nearest water fountain. Once he arrives, he takes a few loud sips then continues to try to catch his breath as he surveys the room. As he looks around, Frank’s fear of being noticed begins to come back. He has to stay moving. If he stops for too long and doesn’t exercise, people might start to look at him. In Frank’s mind, they will be judging him, amused that he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing. Frank rushes to what he is familiar with and completes the same workout routine he has been doing for the past five months. He uses the machines. Frank’s ultimate dream is to stop using the machines and start using the free weights. But the free weight section is on the side of the gym near the mirrors. And the area is fairly cramped - it’s only slightly larger than the stretching mat. If Frank uses the free weights, his chances of being looked at are close to 100%. Even if no one else is using the free weights with him, other gym goers would surely look in his direction, and Frank will not have a machine to shield himself from view. Also, Frank has never used free weights before, so he worries he might attract attention by looking foolish when he tries to perform the new exercises he looked up online. Frank completes his standard machine workout and walks back to the stretching area. Frank usually goes home and stretches in private. But as Frank passes the stretching area, he notices there is no one else using it, presumably because it is so late (the gym closes at 9, and it is 8:39 PM). Frank thinks it’s safe to stretch with so few people left in the gym. He performs a few basic leg stretches and pulls his arms a few different ways. It isn’t a real stretching routine, but Frank has never learned anything past the basics, so he thinks it is good enough. To Frank’s relief, no one else sits down in the stretching area during his routine - and on top of that, only a few people walked past. Frank finishes his stretch and walks out to his car. He is relieved there is no one at the front desk to wish him a good night. He doesn’t want to deal with that. It is uncomfortably cold out, and Frank is wearing just a t-shirt, shorts, thin socks, and old running shoes, so he catches an unhealthy chill as he makes his way to his car. Frank’s muscles are as tight as ever as he walks. Frank sits down in the driver’s seat and feels sad. Today was going to be the day he used the free weights. But he had chickened out... again. Frank turns the key and drives home, sticking to the speed limit the entire way. His disappointment in himself for not using the free weights weighs on his mind the whole way home. He vows to use them next time… this time for real. Frank arrives home and collapses on the couch with two Double Chocolate Fudge PB Protein Bars and a small glass of Gatorade. He devours the bars and accidentally falls asleep in his soggy workout clothing at 9:31 while watching reruns of The Deadliest Catch.