One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Key

            You find a key in the junk drawer on the day you decide to clean it out instead of doing your taxes. Long, slender, silver colored. You wonder: For a safety deposit box? But you don't have one of those. Have never had one. For a mailbox? But your mailbox requires no key. For a bike lock? No, much too big. Storage locker key? But no again. You don't keep anything in storage. Why do you have this key? How long have you kept it?
            For amusement, you cut off a length of string from a spool in the drawer and thread it through the large hole in the key. Then you tie the string around your neck. Now you will always carry the key with you and then, when you find what lock it opens you will have the key and can open the lock.
            That evening you contemplate taking the key from around your neck while you sleep, but you decide not to in case you discover the lock while sleepwalking. Now you haven't gone sleepwalking since you were seven, but perhaps you will start up again, right on the night you find the lock to, well, whatever it is. In fact, maybe a dream will lead you there. The dream will access the part of your mind that knows where to go and then you will go.
            But days go by, key still around your neck, stuffed in your shirt, getting heavier by the hour. Not excitement but uneasiness weighs down the key so the string cuts into your skin. You've told no one. No one knows what you wear. You begin to feel like Frodo with the ring. Feeling slightly ridiculous and scared, on the fifth day you start to take the key from around your neck. You don't want to whisper Gollum's "My Precious!" and start hissing at strangers. But you find that you cannot draw the string necklace up and over your head. OK, no need to panic. You get out a pair of scissors and cut the string. Only the string won't cut. Not only won't it cut but it dulls the scissors so that they won't even cut paper.
            That night you can't sleep. Every time you drift off, a little voice seems to say, "I open at the close." Great, now Harry Potter references plague you. What does the key open? You are torn between a maddening desire to know and the wish that you had never found the key in the first place.
            Weeks have now passed since that regretful moment that you started to wear the key.
            Skate key.
            Skeleton key.
            Answer key.
Every kind of key flashes in front of your eyes until you can't see anything but keys. You struggle to do your work or carry on conversations with people. If they worry about you, you can't tell because you're so focused on keys. You are also becoming hunchbacked because you keep bending over and trying the key in every lock you pass. Filing cabinet locks. Office doorknobs. Desk drawers.
            One night you can't take it anymore and you start roaming the street in your neighborhood trying your key in every door of your neighbors' houses. You know it is ludicrous but you do it anyway. Someone apparently calls the cops because you become vaguely aware of the sound of sirens and the image of flashing lights. Then you hear a voice beside you and a hand puts pressure on your shoulder as you are guided out of the driver's seat of a cop car where you tried to insert your key into the ignition. Moved to the backseat, you try to unlock your handcuffs.

            Finally you pass out from exhaustion and wake up in the night on a hard cot in a jail cell. Your eyes travel over the bars before you. You feel driven to try your key in the cell door lock. You don't want to get up; you just want to sleep more but you can't handle the suspense. You stand and shuffle over to the door. You lean into the bars and with one hand grasp the key and stretch it through two bars and around to where you know the lock must be. The key goes into the hole. There is a click. The door swings open.

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