Fiction: Peter Clarke’s “Untitled in B”

My refrigerator in its old age sometimes quivers and hums when its fan turns on. The quivering is completely insignificant, but the humming, I’ve found, is B, the musical note. It’s not sharp or flat; it’s a perfect B.

Just like the fan in my crotchety refrigerator, anything that moves fast enough will begin to make a frequency. That’s what sound is: vibrations resulting from some sort of movement.

Hot days bring out the worst in my refrigerator. Anytime the temperature reaches over eighty degrees, it hums almost more often than not. The poor thing is really desperate. It tells me all its pitiful heartaches in its dying drone.

Sometimes I can’t take it. Life is not always in the key of B. And a background hum in the wrong key can really unhinge an otherwise agreeable atmosphere. I get irritated and I just have to tell the refrigerator to shut the hell up by pulling its plug.

Like the other day when I got in an argument over indecipherably subtle social matters with my girlfriend.

Or yesterday afternoon when my neighbors were outside my window having a mind-numbingly dumb conversation about video games.

Or today when I was trying to finish some work.

Or anytime I’m trying to sleep.

I believe I heard somewhere that the universe itself spins or moves at such a rate as to give off a musical vibration. I’ve never looked it up, but the optimist in me would like to believe that the universe is not in the key of B. As far as I know, no one writes songs in the key of B except my pathetic, dying refrigerator, which, as I have already mentioned, I am more than happy to unplug at any given moment. All the while, the crappy, terminally-ill appliance is just trying to do its job: it’s just trying to preserve my perishables!

***

Peter Clarke’s short fiction has appeared in Hobart, Elimae, Locus Novus, Denver Syntax, Orion Headless, and elsewhere. He is a recent law school graduate, keeping busy writing indelicate novels and trying to not be a lawyer.

Photo credit: ITV.com

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