2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, arguably the inventor of the domestic novel. Critics point out that Austen appears to have been almost totally blind to the existence of servants in her fictional world. This is much more of an explanation that you’re ever likely to get from me!
Not hearing the words, the refrigerator hummed to itself, its grey seal with a slight thumbtip of discolouration or stain vibrating but maintaining an airtightness; the hum was a C; the song was of butter, cheese, milk, Icelandic yoghurt, the dance that leftovers had made in a hot pan now a scape of stilled molecules, supermarket grapes and sliced chicken, an open carton of Tropicana in the double-darkness of which a meniscus trembled and rippled finely to that steady music, that background drone, scallions inert but ready to tang when taken out and bitten into. A day had steadily climbed. The heat of the argument escaped through the back of the machine, where this white good was black, the product of vapour compression; and yet everything about the unit was still, standing by, potential. Rivalled sentiment ranked the inertia. Counter to the hum, every sequestered produce sambaed a millimetre to the right at the prompt of a thump on the nearby melamine surface, the promise of use brief. Token. Meanwhile, a room away that it couldn’t measure, the tumble-dryer stood at half-maw, anticipating, its space a womb. Each appliance had been inched into its measured slot, and now hid secrets, dirt lodged in a random alphabet of its own; the filter of the tumble-dryer was long due a clean-out, the fridge a de-frosting; the rage implied but not spoken. As it happened, neither floor was precisely level, a cylinder or a sphere set free would surely roll. The dryer-hatch, at shin height, accepted a passing nudge. Closing hard in emphasis, the back door presented its stained interior and shivered, its pane of frosted glass was the affordance of crying eyes, its exterior stoic to the elements, but the reverberation of the jamb and the surrounding plasterboard was (soon, by a second’s brevity alone) muted and dampened, the rest of the fabric forbidding sympathetic motion. What if there had been a creation of light inside the refrigerator? What if a half-bottle of over-chilled Rosé, to cool its colour-sister’s anger, had been exiled? A day had steadily climbed, and all those witnesses remained at their alert.