6. OK, if the cement is too thick, pour a tad more water in, but for Christ sake be careful (especially if you brought out the biggest bowl in your kitchen—the one you bought that husband who liked to scarf enormous amounts of popcorn while watching movies which he had plenty of time for seeing how he was the real writer in the family). Why is it you forget how damn heavy water is?
7. If you accidently add too much water, wait. (Do not envision yourself buying another bag of bonding cement—haven’t you read how powerful your thoughts are?) It’ll start to thicken up shortly. Resist pouring the runny concoction into the bricked-up hole since a puddle will form then mysteriously drain into the crawlspace located beneath your living room where (unbeknownst to you) the Creature has rearranged things to his liking. Thank the Lord, prior to your cement-buying spree, you responded to what felt like a tugging from the recesses of your consciousness to lift that weird trap door in your cellar. Flashlight in hand, its dim beam illuminated the whole sorry mess—a $4200 saga to replace the dangling, shredded, scattered, insulation-less duct work to your heating system. Don’t worry, after paying the insurance company’s premium for years, they will pay for it—minus the $707 deductible your mother loans you.
8. Meanwhile, as the cement continues to coagulate, locate a cardboard box, tear off a flap, round off the edges and, voila! you have a container wall, one you suspect you may need. Actually, there are a lot of things you need and can’t afford. Rubbed raw from overuse, ignore your credit cards pitiable attempts to snap their brittle little selves in half (credit card suicide is not acceptable). Honestly, after borrowing thousands of dollars to pay bills this summer (before taking off to hike Bald Mountain, bike the Midway in Park City, throw snowballs in the Uintas and run the Rockies stony trails), you did not envision returning to the Creature nesting in the cellar directly below your desk while you, hunched behind your laptop, scramble through eHarmony’s picks-of-the-day. When you suppress a cough and end up sneezing onto your shoulder, the Creature stirs. You’ve disturbed him. He scratches. You wipe your nose. You both seek comfort. His raspy wheeze prods you to stomp the floor and dislodge him. But he turns a deaf ear and burrows deeper.
9. Since the bucket has grown heavy with the ever-hardening cement, drop the cardboard container wall and drag the bucket over with both hands. Come on, pull! (This is not the time to mull over the other broken/damaged/destroyed items discovered amidst the soupy-conflagration of Iowa’s last throes of summer upon your return: the dishwasher, though new-ish, won’t work, and the electrical sockets in the living room shut down with a spark and smoky puff, forcing you to devise an elaborate course of extension cords requiring careful navigation. The TV—366 days old—breaks the second day home, the door handle in the upstairs bathroom mysteriously petrifies and snaps off in your hand, and after tossing the first load of laundry into the dryer, the 1970’s Maytag shimmies with an unnatural enthusiasm, screeches and abruptly stops. Every faucet leaks, house paint peels like an old sunburn, and an impenetrable horde of monster weeds has skyrocketed two stories high. Rent-A-Man. A man for a week—plus a thousand bucks—and you could whip the house into shape, including the ceiling that leaks every time a north-east rainstorm blows through.)
10. Since pouring the rapidly-fossilizing cement with one hand while holding the cardboard wall with the other isn’t going to work, use that big spoon to dollop the cement onto the bricks. It goes without saying that this would be far easier, as mentioned before, with a partner. (A week and a day have passed since “Mr. G” from Colorado Springs asked you on eH: “Define your sense of hope.” It’s the first time that question has come up from any of your matches which, oddly, gives you hope. You wait a day to respond. Then: For me hope is tied directly to action. For example, if I want/hope to be granted a month to finish my book at an artist’s colony, I apply for it and then hope I am accepted. So I put forth my best effort, knowing I gave it my all. Personally, I like Emily Dickinson’s take on it: “Hope is the thing with feathers/that perches in the soul.” Weeks pass. Mr. G doesn’t write back—Was it the Dickinson quote you wonder? Or that he doesn’t care for your brand of hope. Oddly, you feel a sense of hopelessness.)