As the man opens the refrigerator door the stench yanks his nose hairs and hurtles upwards to the backs of his eyeballs squeezing them like a nurse pumping on a blood-pressure gauge. He steps back, retreating from the assault on his olfactory nerve.

“Should have kept the facemask on all the way home from the airport,” he says.

He has come home. Three weeks ago, when he left, it was straight to a brief bedside vigil at his childhood home and then the inevitable funeral before returning. 

Now the malodor fills his shoebox of an apartment containing a table, bed, cupboard, and what was a fridge but is now a living organism emitting warm air moist as a reptile room in a zoo. 

Warm air? He tilts his head sideways, waves a hand inside the fridge to confirm. Yes, it’s broken.

He closes the door, walks the three steps required to get to the window, and opens it. Taking out his phone the man calls his landlady, a word he dislikes because “landlady” makes her sound old, but 30-something is not old, it’s his age. She inherited the building and the grocery store she runs on the ground floor.

The landlady promises to install a new fridge and he gives her permission to enter the apartment if he is not in.

Two days later, the man returns home from work to find a new fridge the size of an 80s TV set. He opens the door and the cold air strokes his face. Inside it’s empty, except for one thing. The fridge light shines on a small glass bowl like a halo. The bowl has dancing Minnie Mouse figures painted on it and is filled with mango chunks. He takes out the bowl and picks up a chunk between thumb and forefinger:

Feel, cool

Appearance, waxed amber

Smell, tropic

He puts it in his mouth, closes his eyes, breathes in deep, pressing it between tongue and palate, then sucks. It tastes like enchantment.

He opens his eyes, exhales, and says: “I’ll have to return this bowl to her.”

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
1 year ago

An electrifying first sentence, and a continuing saga that keeps the reader totally engaged, all the way to an enigmatic future chapter yet unwritten. We’re fascinated every step of the way. A very unique presentation of “home” from a seasoned writer who knows how to captivate. This one’s a knock-out! 

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

I thought wow! That’s an opening, and right through the story I got this no frills, tell it how it is, very down to earth. I liked it.

Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
1 year ago

The opening scene really hooks the reader. With its detailed description and unique plot, it makes an amazing story!

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Katy Bizi
Katy Bizi (@katy-bizi)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Vaananen

And you managed to do just that (have a strong opening, yet not too much). You deserve all these comments!

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson (@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

I thought they might be chips at first sight, then see they are your enchanting mango slices, contrasting strongly with your good description of the unpleasant precursor. Trying to remember 80s tv sets. Is that a big size?

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
1 year ago

I agree, a brilliant opening sentence and I love how you’ve taken us from that awful stench to the sweet aroma of fresh mango, and the possibility of another enchantment when he returns the bowl. Well done, Jay!

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musing mind
musing mind (@musing-mind)
1 year ago

The transition in your story is great, very smooth and seamless.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
1 year ago

You’re quite a storyteller, Jay, roping in the reader from the first few words and never letting go. I love it when he discovers that the former refrigerator is now a “living organism emitting warm air moist as a reptile room in a zoo”. Talk about showing instead of telling. We could all feel it! And to have chunks of mango as a gift. Not a carton of milk, or perhaps a jug of ice tea. Nothing so ordinary. Mango and Minnie Mouse. I’m with Sandra on this one – there is a very high probability of enchantment when he returns the bowl. Great work!

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Alan Kemister
Alan Kemister (@alan-kemister)
1 year ago

This is great. Vivid description of the scene and an interesting little story that progresses smoothly to a very appealing conclusion.

Leena Auckel
Leena Auckel (@leena-auckel)
1 year ago

Kudos! I love the way you write…a pleasure to navigate along your words. A good flow and vivid descriptions.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

Well done Jay. Fully deserved to be up there in the ratings.

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
10 months ago

Wow! Totally engaging and yes I agree with them the opening is brilliant and amazing. I love and enjoyed it so much, Jay. Well done. 

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