Every year in April my wife and I throw a party for a jar of jelly.*
It all started when a young man (me) went walkabout to the Arizona Renaissance Festival and needed someone to see that his apartment didn’t explode and that his cats stayed well-fed. The year was 1989. Many adventures were had by the lad on his walkabout, but that is not what this story is about. This is about his or, should I say, my, refrigerator.
Since I lived a hundred yards from both my parents and my grandmother, I’d never seen much point in using the kitchen of my apartment for anything other than storage. The oven was a convenient place to put the cat food bag, as the cats couldn’t open it, and it kept it out of my way. The cabinets were largely filled with strange artifacts (later identified as dishes by my wife-to-be) supplied by my parents and grandmother when I moved out. Actually, when they moved out and to two separate houses, but again, that’s another story. The refrigerator was a mystical place into which I would occasionally stuff a twelve pack of Mountain Dew, or a candle that had been melting in the sun.
None of this was really front-brain knowledge however, and when I went on my way to live in a tent in the middle of the desert I didn’t give so much as a passing thought to the functioning of my kitchen. For the friend, “CD,” who moved into my place as caretaker for the two months that I was gone however, the kitchen was a vitally important place, necessary to his survival.
So, one of the first things CD did after I left for parts south, was to go to a grocery store and stock up on food, which he then brought home and proceeded to put away. This turned out to be an adventure in itself, beginning when he opened the crisper. At some point in the distant past, I had been given a dragon candle. Slightly after that, it ended up in direct sunlight, softened, and folded in half. That was when I stuffed it into the crisper. Of course, it was already too late at that point, and all that I managed to do was create a multi-colored blob of wax, heavy on the purples and greens, and with a very odd topology.
Needless to say, CD, still foolishly possessed of the idea that if it was in the fridge, it had probably at one time been food, was deeply disturbed by this discovery. (I was unavailable for comment at the time, being somewhere in transit.) But after a while, he worked up his nerve, prodded the alien life form with a fork, and discovered that it was harmless. However, this experience made him very cautious when he approached the rest of the contents of the fridge, which turned out to consist of one never-opened jar of Red Currant Jelly that had expired some two years before his arrival.
When I finally returned from my wanderjar, CD naturally enough wanted to share the tale of his adventures in my apartment, and to question me about the candle (tucked away in a box in a cabinet-but still unidentified by him) and the jelly. After some careful inspection of the items in question and dusting off of old memories, I was able to identify the candle. But the jelly defied my powers of memory.
Or, at least, that is one explanation. However, since I have never in my entire life eaten red currant jelly, nor to my knowledge has it ever been a staple in my family’s household, I have darker suspicions. I tend to believe that it condensed out of the mysterious cosmic stuff of missing hangers and lost socks, and that it happened some time between when I left the house on my trip and when CD arrived a day later — and that it is possessed of inhuman and sinister motivations.
And so I have never opened it or discarded it (for fear that someone else might open it) and once a year (near the expiration date listed on the jar) we bring it out and throw a festival to appease it. Today will be the 23rd annual red currant jelly party, marking the 25thd anniversary of its expiration.
The Jelly Wakes!
*reposted with edits from SFNovelists