Forgotten Strawberries

Within anyone’s refrigerator is contained an entire universe. A whole world where things go on that no one on “the outside” knows about. Could never dream of knowing about, even if they tried. Each shelf had its factions, its wars. But among this particular shelf in this particular refrigerator, the strawberries had been forgotten. Left to rot in some recessed corner where even the other food items couldn’t be bothered to consider them.

The “owner” of the refrigerator, Marigold Meyerson, had purchased these strawberries on a whim. Spurred, of course, by their bargain price. A “bargain” because they were already going bad to begin with. But Marigold promised herself she would use them right away, even if to make smoothies or some shit. She was on one of her health kicks that day. A kick that quickly disappeared the moment she entered her apartment and unloaded the groceries into the fridge. The “healthy choices” she had made at the store quickly gave way to preferring the readily available junk food she already had stuffed in various drawers—potato chips (of diverse flavors and textures), chocolate, cookies, marshmallows, et al. All the things she knew she should avoid, but that were so much easier to consume than bothering to take the time to make a “well-balanced” meal or snack.

So the strawberries—all twenty-one of them, smushed together in their small, cage-like basket—remained forgotten. Permitted to coalesce and decay and form mutant fuzzes that themselves formed mutant fuzzes. The other items didn’t want to remember their presence. They were too unsightly. Causing a blemish in an otherwise immaculately-presented series of shelves. There were five shelves in total within this medium-sized KitchenAid. It had come with the apartment, surprisingly. Usually, landlords tried to stick you with some inferior brand, but this was a building that wanted to pass as being semi-luxurious—hence, the refrigerator. Marigold was motivated by the “niceness” of the refrigerator to keep it well-maintained and well-stocked. There was nothing more depressing than an empty refrigerator. Especially when it was actually a high-quality one as opposed to a shitty one. Some tended to believe it was more depressing to have nothing inside the latter kind of fridge, but Marigold knew better. She knew that when you had nothing in a high-quality fridge it meant you were the worst kind of broke—the kind posing as being somewhat middle-class, but actually probably worse off than a true broke-ass who at least didn’t get taxed as much. Maybe that was “Republican thinking,” but whatever, Marigold shrugged as she weekly made certain to keep the shelves packed to the gills. She would not be accused of being “faux decadent.” She wanted to be real decadent (even if she knew deep down that she wasn’t).

If she actually was, of course, she wouldn’t be living in this makeshift (makeshit?) luxury building. She’d be living in a true one…that didn’t need to broadcast itself as being “luxury.” It didn’t take a “class expert” to size up the clientele and understand that they were all deluding themselves about their “status.” These were people who wanted to pretend, as much as Marigold, that they were something more. But when Marigold thought too closely about what she actually was—a middle-class, wannabe nouveau riche type living in a homogenous apartment complex—it made her want to binge on the junk food she so often tended to favor over things like strawberries. The strawberries that kept on creating their own universe in the back corner of the second shelf from the bottom. By now, they were positively interplanetary. Off in their own alternate dimension, away from the one populated by the “pretty foods” that hadn’t met their expiration date, and weren’t even close to it. They could never understand the strawberries now. They truly were…from another planet. Off to slip and slide in the ether until maybe, one day, Marigold remembered that they even existed. That, at one point, she had seen fit to make an attempt at “health.” In the weeks since that blip, she had gone on more severe eating binges that rarely required her to open the fridge.

She would counteract the binges with bouts of extreme workout regimens and vomiting purges that made her feel as though she had earned the right again to overdose on high fructose corn syrup and saturated fat. Despite being fully aware that she had earned no such right at all. She was a piece of shit, just like her mother had always emphasized to her. And it was then that she recalled having purchased something “nutritious” a while back: the strawberries. Her fridge-opening endeavors had been mostly cursory of late, since her predilections were for bagged items and candy. Apart from hitting the Coke bottle, she didn’t much bother with anything in there. But her trigger about being a piece of shit who should make a conscious effort to eat more nourishing foods prompted her to think back to that basket of strawberries. How many days had it been? she wondered. More like weeks. Weeks of having gone off the deep end. Weeks of surrendering fully to her darkest, most destructive gustatorial desires.

Marigold was afraid now, starting to add up the time that had gone by since the purchase. She opened her refrigerator slowly, fearfully—as though expecting someone to pop out and stab her. In this life, anything was possible. But what she never could have predicted was the sight of the black hole in the corner of her fridge. She could see millions of stars (that looked a lot like the seeds on the exterior of this breed of berry) and little planets peeking through it. This was the spot where the strawberries once were, and she noticed that other food items were starting to gravitate toward the hole. That’s when it struck her: should she? Should she just crawl right in and risk seeing whatever awaited for the sake of forgetting all about her corporeal self on this side of things? Maybe there would be no worry about the corporeal in space…one way or another.

Talking herself into it as she had talked herself into buying the strawberries, she decided to just do it. Whatever was in the “other realm” couldn’t be worse than what was in this one. Marigold stuck her hand in first, not realizing (until it was too late) that the hole would suck her through instantaneously. After “taking” her, it sealed itself up, leaving, in exchange for her self-sacrifice, a fresh basket of strawberries in the corner that would only end up rotting again with no tenant in the apartment to consume them.


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