(Note: I hang out at a Yahoo site for people who took an online writing class. One of the members has begun posting a writing prompt each week, and we are writing about that subject, This week's prompt had to do with finding a key in a junk drawer, and imagining something about it. Here is my story, to be posted over the next seven days. It's my first attempt at a fictional story more than a couple hundred words long.)
The key had slipped down between the side of the drawer and the plastic two-tier junk organizer, so it was all too easy to overlook. How many years it had been there, I couldn’t tell. I can only tell you about the day I found it and began to wonder about its provenance.
I knew right away it wasn’t a key that belonged to the house. It had “Best” stamped in ornate lettering on its brass surface. All the keys to the house are Schlage. It most definitely was not an automotive key, either. Not Toyota, or Dodge, which are the current residents of Muskeg Manor. Their predecessors, the Chevies and Fords and Audis and VWs, all had distinctive keys. No, it wasn’t an automotive key.
It didn’t go to the snowmachine, or the lawn tractor, not the forklift nor the various pieces of heavy equipment my husband once owned. Not the safe deposit box at the bank in the nearest town, nor the post office box six miles down the road. Any padlocks we use around here were Masters, and this wasn’t a Master key.
Long, slender, and softly glowing, the brass key sat on my counter for weeks while I considered whether or not to throw it in the trash. A niggling little voice told me that shortly after I disposed of the key, I would discover what it was for and I would rue discarding it. So it remained, its jagged edge now protecting a secret, an edge that once turned tumblers and exposed secrets.
The earth turned, the seasons changed, and the key was pushed farther and farther into the shadowy depths of the countertop, and even farther from my mind. Eventually it slipped unnoticed beneath the carousel that holds my kitchen tools—the wooden spoons, cheese slicers, ladles, spatulas, and vegetable peelers. There it remained, unseen and again forgotten, until the day I set out to polish the Formica countertops and dust the oak backsplash that rises four inches up the knotty pine walls.
That day—the day the key emerged again to taunt me—that day will live in infamy.