Silver Box

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‘Gargle.’ My stomach rumbles like a stalled monster truck; sporadic, yet with the same low gurgling sound. I race to the gleaming silver box on the far side of the kitchen—the only thing hampering my sprint are the patches of pale skin that protrude from holey forest green socks and scrape against the crackled tile floor. The sleek handle is smooth to the touch and soiled with the greasy fingerprints of my family members, but I don’t care. I open the fridge, its brisk temperature slapping me straight across the face as the warmth of my home nips me in the neck.

I am in a microcosm of my home that rarely goes unexplored—one where pasta swathed in meat sauce, fudgy, chewy brownies, and creamy clam chowder prevail over the otherwise mundane makings of a household. You never know what you’ll find when you open its aluminum doors—the identity of the person who added a zesty, lemony chicken dish on Thursday or who devoured the last of the powdered sugar-dusted cookies will always remain shrouded in a veil of secrecy. Crisp, unlabeled plastic containers line its foggy shelves—is that shredded coconut or finely chopped Parmesan? And hidden behind motley containers of organic yogurt or soy milk lie the finest treasures, discerned by only a trained eye. A half-eaten milk chocolate bar is nestled between a bottle of murky vinegar salad dressing and a bowl of grainy hummus; leftover lo mien is piled upon a can of mayonnaise and a jar of pineapple-infused cottage cheese. We are smarter than Mother thinks.
My azure-colored eyes brush over a cup of firm strawberry gelatin and my mind reverts back to fifth grade, when I mistook nauseating, repulsive flax seed oil for unfinished deep lemon Jell-O—I can’t look at a brown bottle of flax oil without unconsciously wincing, trying to rid myself of that horrible memory.
A container of vanilla yogurt perched on the top shelf reminds me of the same awkward year, of an incident that would be incessantly repeated to distant family members and acquaintances alike. My prepubescent, rotund fifth-grade self reached for a can of cinnamon-flavored yogurt and accidentally poured it all over my frizzy strawberry-blonde hair, not realizing that the red protective seal was pulled back—it took my mom and I two hours to rid my thick, loose curls of that sickeningly sweet scent.
I smile at a gnawed block of cheddar cheese, its orange, nibbled features causing a distant memory to slowly come back into focus. My younger brother and I decided to have a macaroni-and-cheese cook-off; he, being the superior cook, ripped a recipe from my mom’s cookbook and used it as his guide. I, on the other hand, poured every ingredient I could find into a charred saucepan—cream cheese, mustard, American cheese—and heated it until the yellow mixture bubbled at the surface. But when I poured the thick, sticky concoction onto a variation of pastas and served it to my little sister, the official “judge”, the disgusted expression on her freckled face said it all. I did not have a future as a chef, and the individual counterparts of my creation belonged on the colorless shelves of the fridge, safe from my culinary-inclined mind.

I peruse the shelves of the fridge, its heavy silver door lightly striking my plaid-skirted hip as I made my selection. Rounded, peeled carrots, mini wild blueberry muffins, and a tall can of saccharine whipped cream stare back at me; inanimate objects, each with equal amounts of laughs and flavor. I select a particularly moist muffin and walk away, no longer wishing to peer into my treasure trove of life experiences. And the raspy, distinct laugh of my departed grandfather reverberates in my mind as I indifferently turn on the television, his jovial face clear as ever as he teasingly tossed carrots at the backs of his party guests; one last hurrah.





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