No one could blame the tomatoes. Two days ago their skin began sagging like small red balloons a week after the carnival. But the warning signs went unheeded. Unarguably, they lasted longer than the green pepper collapsing upon itself on the bottom shelf. But they were bad — completely and undeniably. Black splotches that clung around the polar regions eventually compromised the pulpy mass of seeds. Cutting around the questionable areas wasn’t an option any longer.
Naturally this made a salad impossible. A salad needs variable textures. Without cucumbers, carrots, or even an apple to dice and make some walnutless abomination of a Waldorf, such an attempt would be futile. Only lettuce remained — and not even a complex lettuce like Romaine. It was Iceberg. All the 8 month old blue cheese dressing in the world could not make plain iceberg lettuce into a salad.
Without a salad, the lettuce would inevitably fall. The edges already seemed a little browner. Veins grow darker by the second. Vegetables never last long in captivity. And once one goes, the others quickly fade as if they lose all hope of escape. They become little more than gaunt shadows cowering behind the pickle jar, waiting for oblivion.
Something had to be done about the tomatoes. Replacing them was out of the question. That required opening the door. The refrigerator door had already been opened. If all this door-opening continued, it might never end. But unless it did, the tomatoes would slowly continue to slip away inside their thin plastic bag. While not actively corrupting the lettuce, they would certainly encourage it. Whereas, throwing the tomatoes away would raise the overall morale in the refrigerator, but it would also speed the rate of decay. In the chaotic realm of the garbage bin, where newer layers crush older ones into an indistinguishable lump of unredeemable waste, the chances of a breach in the bag also increased. Once this happened, the smell would force relocation in the dumpster outside. Again this involved opening the door.
This would have never happened if she was here. She would have persuaded the tomatoes to assume an untraditional culinary role days ago. Even earlier than that, she probably would have had the foresight to make something less experimental that also involved the green peppers — maybe something sauteed in olive oil. Over pasta perhaps. Then she would have bought more tomatoes, green peppers and even onions on the way home from her golf lesson. Was it Thursday already? The calender on the insurance company refrigerator magnet confirmed that it was Thursday. So that settled that. There would have been tomatoes. There would have been a salad. There would have been no opening of doors.
If, if, if.
A door had to open. It had to begin.