1. Buy the Bowflex Treadclimber TC-200 for a month’s wages on a credit card at 23% interest believing that the guilt and payments alone will motivate you.
2. Have it delivered to your unheated garage on a Minnesota winter day when the temperature is a balmy 16 degrees as opposed to seven below.
3. Prepare to rip into the wooden crate with a crowbar. Realize you have no crowbar. Wonder who sends shit in wooden crates anymore. Oh, well. Free fire wood. Dig car out of six feet of snow because both the treadmill and the car will not fit in the garage, and the treadmill cost more.
4. Drive to Home Depot and buy a crowbar. Brag to Home Depot kid about your new purchase. Decline Home Depot kid’s offer to help you set it up for twenty bucks, because hey – you don’t need no pimple-faced, know-it-all kid. You got this.
5. Pry open the carton with the excitement of a seven-year-old on Christmas morning. See that most of what’s inside is packing material and the treadmill is a jigsaw puzzle of pieces your Aunt Millie would be sure to appreciate. Consider calling Aunt Millie.
6. Dig out the 22-page instruction manual written in a size 8 font. Go into the house for your glasses. See that it’s time for lunch and the Vikings game is on. Maybe you’ll have a beer. Decide to tackle the treadmill the next morning.
7. Be up at dawn raring to go. Layer sweats over thermals, don your wool cap and warmest gloves. Enter the icy garage. Forego the instruction manual because instruction manuals are for pussies. Minutes later, realize you cannot maneuver all the tiny nuts and bolts with your gloves on. Take them off. Minutes later, realize your fingers have frostbite. Decide to wait until afternoon when it’s certain to warm up. It doesn’t. There’s always next weekend. Believe the weather guy when he tells you there’s going to be a thaw.
8. Rise the following Saturday to six more feet of snow. Spend two hours digging out your car and head back to Home Depot for the biggest portable heater they have. When Home Depo kid asks how it’s going with the treadmill say “Great!” And give him a gloved “thumbs up” for emphasis.
9. Back home, fire up the heater to “Mother.” Work diligently until the machine is upright and the sun has set. Take pride in the fact that it looks just like the picture on the website. Aunt Millie would be proud. Gloat because you didn’t need that whole box of screws, after all. You da man!
10. You’ve earned a break. Call it a day. There’s a six-pack with your name on it inside.
11. Sunday morning enter the garage with a heart full of optimism. Flip on the light to find that the treadmill has collapsed. Metal road kill as far as the eye can see. Forget you only have on your slippers and kick the crap out of it. Break your big toe, right foot. Shout a litany of obscenities.
12. Call Home Depot kid. Learn he will be happy to come out and put it together. His price is now fifty bucks. Tell him to go fuck himself.
13. Drive your throbbing foot to the emergency room. Learn you’ve broken not one toe but three. Receive crutches and Vicoden.
14. Resolve to try again in the six weeks it will take to heal.
Jayne Martin is the winner of Vestal Review’s 2016 VERA award for flash fiction. Her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Literary Orphans, F(r)iction, Five2One, Blink Inc, Spelk, 100-Word Story, Flash Frontier, Yellow Chair Review, Connotation Press and Hippocampus. She is the author of “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry.” Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.