The Forgotten Key
by Jace Daniel (b. 1969)
There once was a man who lived in a house with many rooms. And each of these rooms had a door. And on each of these doors was a lock. Each lock had its own special key; some large and toothy, some small and sleek, some old and rusty, some new and shiny. The man had all these keys memorized, and kept them on a large ring that he carried in his pocket.
This man lived all alone in this large house, going about his business in his own private world, his secluded reality. He spent his time walking from room to room, doing this and that, all the while unlocking and locking doors as he went.
One ordinary day the man looked down at his key ring and noticed a key he didn’t recognize. “What’s this for?” the man thought. Puzzled, the man walked through the halls of his house with this curious key, venturing deeper and deeper into the corridors, going from door to door, sticking the key into each lock. The key failed each time, which was no surprise to the man, as he already knew which key opened which door.
Bewildered, the man slunk to the bare hallway floor, staring at the mysterious key.”How can this be?” he asked himself, unable to answer. He took the the key off the ring and rolled it around in his fingers. He closed his eyes and sat there on the floor in deep thought for a long while.
“Aha!” he exclaimed aloud, his voice echoing through the cold empty halls. The man jumped to his feet and ran down the hallway. He turned left around the first corner, then another left, then a right. He grabbed the bannister, swinging his weight into the staircase, descending as fast as he could, the sound of his footsteps now drowned out by the sounds of his own breathing. He reached the bottom of the staircase, crashing into the wall. “This way,” he instructed himself. The man sprinted down another long hallway, passing locked doors on his left and right. “Hang a left,” he heard himself say. “One more flight of stairs, then a right. Almost there.”
Panting, the man stood at his destination. A large door, towering twice as tall as the others. “Yes,” said the man. He looked down at the key in his hand, which was no longer mysterious. “Of course.”
The man put the key into the large door. It fit perfectly. He turned the key clockwise with a familiar heavy click. He swung the door open and looked through it. He inhaled.
Then he walked outside into the bright sunshine.