The Sisyphean workout
“Have you ever tried the Sisyphean workout?”
“How is your strength training session going this morning?”
“It is an unvarying and persistent challenge I would say Madeliene.”
We had almost reached the top of the hill, but Sisyphus’s rock kept us at a slow pace. It was terribly humid and unbearably hot in that desert space, despite the fact that I had worn a light Calvin Klein colour block dress. I could feel myself getting a tan — it was hell.
Sisyphus had slid to his knees as he inched the rock to the peak. I tried to help by pushing it with my converse covered feet — he had asked me to wear shoes after I had once tried to emulate his bare feet, which resulted in him having to carry me and my burned soles downhill — but he was adamant in refusing my help, saying so while half of his face was being crushed against the heavy thing.
“I can do this by myself Madeliene!”
“My god, I’m only trying to help.”
“Don’t mention him damn it!”
We proceeded with our mild pace quietly for a while, well, I did, he was issuing involuntary grunts, propelling the rock to the final stages of the peak.
“You should really rest your muscles once in a while.”
“I do have some time between each session to find my strength again.”
“Good. Any chance you will try something else?”
“I’ve tried a number of things before this; I might be doing this for a while.”
“How long have you been doing this?”
The challenging feat had worked — there was not a part of him that was not sculpted, with muscles which lay under flesh that had turned into a mustard crust from the exposure to the sun. The second we arrived at the top the rock rolled back down again, vibrating the ground along the way. We took a moment to perceive the world at our feet — a quiet desert of oxygen and blues. After a moment, Sisyphus started walking down again and I followed.
“How is the world on the other side Madeliene? Has it changed much?”
I had never seen him smile until that moment, it was wide enough to convince me he had not forgotten how to.
“Do you miss the rock?” I asked, while resting my hand on his shoulder, I did not want to slide down the hill.
“Not yet, even though a person does get used to such things. Do you?”
“Why would I long for it?”
“What else can you do?”
“Enough with the longing, nothing will happen,” I said, while he tried to interject a few times. “No — no! Stop it Sisyphus, nothing will come of this. I have a book for you, maybe you can read a few pages when you’re coming back down the hill.”
It was House of Leaves, I thought he would get a kick out of it. He looked at the thick book wearily, then raised his eyebrow at me.
“You push that heavy rock Sisyphus, 700 pages won’t make much difference to your load.”
“I would slap you if I wasn’t trying to get my energy back.”
Story credits: Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus; Calvin Klein; Converse; Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves.