"Eleven, twelve, thirteen..."
"Come on, Tarou-san!"
Haruka is encouraging Tarou as they train together.
Together, but actually Haruka is spotting Tarou at the Bench Press under a 30kg barbell with her right hand.
Haruka is lifting Tarou, the barbell, and the bench to shoulder level, using them as a dumbbell.
"Just 10 more reps, please keep it up! Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen..."
As she encourages him, she lifts the bench. Atop the rising bench, Tarou struggles to get the barbell off his chest.
It is a good scream, but the barbell doesn't rise a bit. Sweat drips from Tarou's face.
"Maybe it will be easier if you lift when I go down."
Tarou followed her advice and tried lifting at the opposite time, as Haruka sped up her lowering motion.
Tarou felt a little floating sensation with the barbell suddently getting lighter as he extended his arms. Haruka slowly and deliberately lifts in order to reduce the burden on Tarou's arms.
"Wow, Haruka-chan, I lifted it!"
Haruka felt embarrassed by Tarou's praise for her idea.
"Hee hee... Thanks."
But Haruka's idea didn't help Tarou for long. After three more reps, Tarou was once more pinned under the barbell.
"... I, I can't do it... Haruka-chan, help..."
His breathing was becoming shallower as Tarou spoke.
"... No! Tarou-san, didn't say it before? You said you could do 20 reps."
"Please do your best".
"I said no! You said you could, so please do it."
Her tone was gentle, but it said simply made Tarou push harder. Throughout this conversation the bench rose and fell several times, but her expression didn't change.
Tarou gave in and pushed the barbell with all his might. The bench secretly lowered a little. It may have been because he gave in that he was able to complete another rep.
Haruka had doubt in her voice and the bench moved suddenly, already slipping a little the barbell fell a lot, and it was about to crash on top of Tarou's chest.
"... are you slacking off?"
It wasn't until Haruka lowered the bench below her shoulder and looked at Tarou that she became aware of his predicament, and moved the bench quickly to prevent Tarou from ending his effort.
"Tarou-san, it's useless if you don't fix your habit of slacking. If not now, then when will you do it?"
Tarou was being scolded by the grade-schooler Haruka, the younger Haruka who was lifting the bench with one hand. And lying underneath the barbell, it was now becoming a serious problem for Tarou.
"B-but... I can't lift it anymore..."
Tarou sobbed pitfully and painfully.
"OK, I understand."
"Really? Thanks, Haruka-chan ~"
Relieved, Tarou looked at Haruka's face and Haruka smiled.
"Please leave it to me! Hold on tight to the barbell, please!"
Haruka's idea of helping was to vigorously pump the bench up and down. With the motion, Tarou's body felt like it was floating with the barbell, and the barbell seemed to fly on its own. At that instant, Tarou extended his arm. And when it was lowered, the barbell fell on Haruka's shoulder.
"Gyuuu! ...Gya! ...Ge!"
"Fourteen! Fifteen! Sixteen..."
In null-gravity, Tarou savored the feeling of lowering the barbell several more times.
"Thanks for your hard work ♪"
After exactly 20 reps, then bench was slowly lowered and the barbell racked above Tarou.
Though it was his own suggestion, the painful aerial bench press gave him peace of mind.
Posted originally in Japanese at http://members.at.infoseek.co.jp/kinsyo/10gallery-page/haruka002.html and translated by Ed Lee