Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page.


By Patricia Morris

After all these years, I stand in front of the refrigerator this afternoon and hear my mother’s voice, “Don’t stand there with that door open!”

I chuckle. I’m standing here because I can’t remember what I came to the refrigerator for. As that kid, some 60 years ago, I was probably looking for something to eat. Maybe a slice of bologna. Maybe the green Jello salad with a layer of cream cheese on top. Maybe that rare delicacy – a green olive stuffed with a bit of red pimento. Whatever it was, I’d grab it and close the door at my mother’s command.

I imagine what she was thinking. Holding the door open meant using more electricity, which meant a higher electric bill, which meant more financial worries. It also meant more ice build-up in the small freezer compartment that sat along the top of the interior of that short squat white machine. This was long before the days of automatic defrost. Ice would build up on the top and sides of the narrow shelf every time the door opened and closed. Every couple of months or so it took pans of boiling water and a strong dull knife to clean it out, making room again for the ice cube trays and freezer paper-wrapped blocks of hamburger and bacon.

A few years after my mother was gone, of all the household tasks that fell to me, defrosting was the one I dreaded the most.  I would let it go for too long, until the contents of that small compartment were engulfed by a virtual glacier. It would take hours and multiple pans of boiling water to loosen it enough to chop away at it with my small freezing hands. Tears were shed. I felt like Cinderella – before the ball. And I never actually made it to a ball. I just kept cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and homework, knowing I didn’t want this to be my life forever. I was too dutiful a daughter to plot an escape, and yet one ensued.

So, after all these years, here I stand in front of a refrigerator with a completely separate, frost-free freezer compartment, powered by 100% local renewable energy that I don’t worry about paying for, trying to hurry up the search in my memory bank for what I opened that door for anyway.

Patricia Morris lives under the trees in Northern California and writes on Monday nights at Jumpstart Writing Workshops. She dates her love of stories to being read to while sitting on the lap of her Great-Aunt Ruth, a children’s librarian. Her writing has appeared in Rand McNally’s “Vacation America, the Ultimate Road Atlas,” and The Write Spot anthologies “Possibilities” and “Musings and Ravings From a Pandemic Year,” edited by Marlene Cullen.

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