I was still thirsty after finishing my lunch. Grandma had made me a ham and cheese sandwich with a side of pickles. My can of ginger ale was empty and I needed another one to wash down the last of my lunch. All of the soda was kept in an old refrigerator in grandma’s cellar.
Opening the door to the cellar released the familiar smell of damp earth and old clothing. It was the way I’d always known Grandma’s cellar to smell. It was a smell as unchanging as the passage of time. The steps creaked and groaned with every downward step I took. The afternoon sunlight peaked through a tiny window in the corner. It was the only light in the cool, dark cellar.
At the bottom of the steps I looked around for the light bulb chain. Ahead of me was a mist of darkness. Reaching out into the cool air I waved my hand back and forth. I remembered the chain was not too far from the staircase. Walking forward with my arm still suspended in midair I could feel the cold uneven concrete against my bare feet. Waving my hand more frantically I finally felt the chain brush against my trembling fingers. I gave the chain a fierce tug.
A dim yellow light blazed from the light bulb. In front of me was a clear path to the old refrigerator. It rested alone like an abandoned car in the far corner of the cellar. The closest thing to it was Grandma’s ancient washer and dryer. Walking past it I heard the rumbling of the washer. The clothes thrashed against its sides. It rattled impatiently against the concrete. The pure but potent scent of laundry detergent seeped through the lid tickling my nostrils.
Water trickled like tiny pellets through the brown steel pipes hovering above my head. Somebody was using the water upstairs. The pipes hung from the low wooden ceiling revealing their majestic age in rusty tints of brown and gray. The fact that the ceiling was low had always made me glad to be short. I passed under a colony of cobwebs undoubtedly spared by grandma’s obsessive cleaning habits.
The refrigerator was running through a cycle. I could hear the familiar buzzing as I stood in front of it pondering its exact age. Grabbing the cold metal handle the vibrations massaged my fingers and palm and for a moment I didn’t want to let go. Opening the door revealed a plethora of green, red, orange, and yellow cans. It was a
kid’s caffeine utopia. My eyes fell victim to the lush green and golden letters of Mello Yello. I savored every carbonated ounce while sitting at the table in grandma’s kitchen. The basement and the ginger ale were memories long passed.