Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

3:33 Sports Short #14 // Snatch and Drop

by Catherine A. Brereton

The house shudders when Evan lifts. He lifts upwards of 300lbs, maybe even 350lbs, he told me, when he apologized in advance for the noise. I told him it was fine because, really, how do you tell a man of his size, of his strength, that it isn’t fine, that the house trembles and the cats are anxious and you can’t sleep. He lifts at night, always at night, and although he’s promised that he’ll be finished by nine, he never is.

The thuds come ten minutes apart. In-between, when the house is quiet, the bass of his music thumps in the background. It’s almost soothing. Then, he lifts—snatches, I think, is the correct term—then, he drops, onto the concrete floor of the garage, and the whole house quakes.  

He practices the Olympic sport of weightlifting, he told me, not powerlifting, which is different, or strength training, which is different again; what he does, he said, is superior, harder, more demanding. It requires ultimate strength and fitness. 

I wonder what he eats. Greek yoghurt, I know, because I’ve seen him carry it into the house by the box. I imagine it’s the protein he needs. He drinks six shots of espresso over ice, gulps it down in an instant. He drives a Jeep with out-of-state plates, a wider than usual chassis, thick tyres. He’s ex-military.

In between drops, the cats curl together in nervous balls. I wonder about the state of the foundations, wonder if there are cracks, yet, in the garage floor. He won’t see; he has rubber mats supposedly to break the fall. 

Tonight, he has been lifting for three hours. He films himself while he lifts, his iPhone propped on a strategically positioned shelf. Between lifts, while his muscles recover, he studies his form in miniscule detail, scrutinizing the position of a foot, the angle of an arm, the placement of his fingers around the barbell.

I count the minutes between drops, and wait for it to be over.


Catherine A. Brereton is from England, but moved to America in 2008, where she is now an MFA candidate at the University of Kentucky. Her essay, "Trance," published by SLICE magazine, was selected by Ariel Levy and Robert Atwan as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays, 2015. She is the 2015 winner of theFlounce’s Nonfiction Writer of the Year award. Her more recent work can be found in Crack the Spine, The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society, The Watershed Review, The Indianola Review, Literary Orphans, and The Spectacle, and is forthcoming in GTK Creative Journal, and Burning Down the House anthology. Catherine is the current Editor-in-Chief of Limestone, the University of Kentucky's literary journal. She lives in Lexington with her wife and their teenage daughters, and can be found online at catherinebrereton.com.

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