When I was very small, we had a small refrigerator, and my mother often perched me on top so I’d be out from underfoot while she made dinner. It was high enough to give a good view and keep me from wiggling, but not so high that a fall would cause much damage.
It was from up there one evening that I saw my father come home. He was sad and holding a package of brownies I’d wanted for myself but had been made for my grandfather in the hospital.
“He thanks you,” my father told my mother, “but he can’t eat them.”
She put down her spoon and went to hold him. From my perch I realized with a cold start that a person could be too sick for brownies.
My grandfather died, and we got a slightly larger refrigerator, a Westinghouse. As the squiggly lines on the door evolved into letters I could read, it offered a new diversion. A picky eater, I couldn’t stay focused on spam, bratwurst, stew, kidney beans or canned spinach. But “Westinghouse” picked out in metal letters on the door endlessly held my interest. Moving letters around, I made more words: west, thing, sit, sting, guest, those.And so on.
A little later, when I was maybe eight, nightmares revealed the dark side of refrigerators. Over and over, I’m standing in our yard on Dorian Road. Coming at me is a battalion of giant, metal-faced refrigerators. They have no wheels but grind slowly, implacably over the asphalt, coming at me like the Israelite woman in the Ten Commandments who’s crushed between pyramid stones. Even now, I hear the grinding, muffled shriek on asphalt. I’m frozen in dream. The refrigerators pass Carol’s house, then two more houses, then the edge of Linda’s yard next to ours. They’ll come up on the grass and get me. Except they never did. Always in dreams, they stop at Linda’s house.
Odd how the mind is. However many times I had the dream and woke up terrified, it was the implacable menace, not the miraculous salvation that held me. Am I the only one?