Preserved by Joshua Hebburn

While sitting at the bar I see your doppelganger. She’s peeling a garniture orange at the table beside the one where the man with tight black rubber gloves, using a long thin silver knife, removes long thin almost clear slices of Ibérico from a hock screwed into a wood hock cradle on a special ham cart. I think of this feeling I have standing in front of my fridge. I do that a lot, stand in front of my fridge. I like how it smells, I like the dim, familiar light. I keep my fridge clean. Sometimes I smell my leftovers, say, Orange Chicken, sitting there in a bag. Then Orange Chicken diminishes like a light being turned down, orange chicken to just orange to the air. I smell the cool air. Fridge air, fridge light. I can’t smell the light, but thinking about it, I feel like I do. Maybe I do. Maybe light can be smelled. The windows in my apartment are always open. I hear the hum of the fridge and neighbors’ voices and noises. The voices don’t form words, the clatter and thump a significance, unless I will them to. I don’t. I close my eyes. Once, I thought I heard the pop of a bottle of champagne but I decided, I decide, it was a car, or something. I stand close to it, to the glowing interior, in the cool air. I see the glow through my eyelids. Then I open my eyes. I see the full glow. I watch. I watch the little bulb’s minute variations. There’s a white undertone to the light. In my last apartment, the undertone was yellow. There was more flicker. You can watch anything if you don’t think too hard, especially something like the fridge, which can’t show me anything other than what I expect, for the most part. It’s not a phone. It’s not a television. It’s not the human face, on which the lines are seismographic. I have this feeling there’s supposed to be certain things in the fridge. These are a block of Kraft cheese slices, broccoli, ketchup, milk, spring mix or baby spinach, Dijon mustard, a head of cauliflower, salad dressing, deli slices of cheese and deli sliced meat, a box of Arm & Hammer with the little tab popped, and a few cans of beer. These are Kirin, usually. I look at these things. I may hear the words that are their names, but they’re more words than names. If all the things are there, if they’re well preserved and neat, if they’re in the usual positions I put them in, I feel good in a fridge way. I move away when I get too cold. 


Joshua Hebburn edits fiction for Hobart. His own has also appeared in New World Writing, X-R-A-Y, and Forever Mag. He lives in L.A.