The Girl Who Lost Her Fridge

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Yet it was there, right there, in the corner at the back of the kitchen.
Emma could not understand. Her fridge, which she had opened just an hour ago to take out a tub of blueberry yogurt, was gone. Vanished.
And so was all the shopping her mother had done the day before.
In the place where it should have stood, there was a long long hole now, between the wall and the shelf of coffee pods.

Emma tried to remember. No one had entered the house. She was sure. The fridge hadn’t been stolen.
But the kitchen window was ajar. Had it jumped down into the garden?
One thing was certain — her fridge was somewhere out there, wandering around the city all alone. She began to worry. Soon it would be dark, and the fridge had a broken bulb. What if it got lost in the darkness of the night? And where would it find a safe place to sleep?

She looked at her watch. Her mom would not be home for another two hours. Too late. She had to take care of her fridge by herself.
She sat down for a moment to put ideas in order. Signora Loretta... She might be able to help. Emma would knock at her door and tell her everything. And if doing so meant disobeying mom and dad by leaving the house on her own, so be it. This was an emergency, and emergencies called for unusual solutions. Emma took the key (her mom always left a spare key in the drawer of the desk in the hallway), put it in her pocket, closed the door and ran down to the second floor where Signora Loretta lived.

Signora Loretta was very very old. She needed a cane to walk and was almost deaf. No response after Emma rang the bell, so she rang again. Signora Loretta opened the door, and Emma rushed in. Panting, she told her that her fridge was gone and that she had to go out and look for it. Immediately! Used to the warmth of the house, there was no way it could manage alone in the cold without a roof over its head.
Signora Loretta looked at her in astonishment, trying to figure out if the story of the fridge’s disappearance was something she had imagined. But Emma was so scared and so sad, she stopped asking questions and followed her home.

The fridge was indeed not where it should have been. Signora Loretta remembered it well, the big yellow fridge. Emma's mother had told her she had wanted that particular color. “I want it yellow, like a field of sunflowers.” No one could explain why she asked for a sunflower-colored fridge, but she got her wish. And from that day on, the fridge had become a playmate for Emma. She stuck magnets on it, and drawings she had done as gifts for the fridge. One day she took a marker and wrote her name on the door. Her mother scolded her and wiped it off with bleach, but a faint shadow remained. The fridge did not get angry, though, and Emma sensed that, even without having to talk, the two of them had come to understand each other.
It was her special friend. Why had it gone? And where?

With Emma screaming for Signora Loretta to be quick, and Signora Loretta hurrying with her cane, they went out into the garden and walked to the end of the block.
They asked the greengrocer, the baker, the hairdresser, and the florist if by chance they had seen a yellow fridge pass by. Every time the reaction was the same: a pat on the head to Emma, a puzzled look toward Signora Loretta, who nodded as if to say, "I know, I know. It seemed strange to me too, but it’s true. The fridge is gone".
They searched far and wide. All along the street, they put up ads with a photo of the fridge. No luck. Not a trace of the fridge anywhere.

Emma was inconsolable. Every day she sat in the kitchen and stared at the long long hole, like the hole her missing friend had left deep inside her heart.
One night, her parents decided they could not go on like this, running up and down the stairs every day to get the milk, the salad, the mozzarella from Signora Loretta’s fridge. They decided they would buy a new fridge, and Emma would simply have to get over it.
That night she cried with sadness and anger, cried over the fridge that had abandoned her, cried over her parents who did not understand her pain.

The next day she did not want to go to school and her parents did not force her. She stayed home, reading restlessly in her bedroom. Far away seemed the afternoons spent doing her homework at the kitchen table while her fridge watched her silently, mumbling a little every now and then. The mere memory made her heart tighten.
Suddenly the bell rang. She thought it must be Signora Loretta bringing her a snack. A blueberry yogurt. It was her favorite, but without her fridge to keep it for her, even blueberry yogurt did not taste so good anymore. She climbed off the bed, went to the door, stood on tiptoe, looked out the peephole and almost stopped breathing. In front of her there was not the pale gray of Signora Loretta's dressing gown, but beautiful yellow, like a bright field of sunflowers.
Shouting for joy, she turned the key in the lock, ran out to the landing and hugged the fridge tightly, as far around it as her small arms could reach. Her friend had finally returned.