|The Key by Hillary V,|
|The key was small, rounded on top, and solid gold. David had found it in a jewelry box on the top shelf of his mother’s closet. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be in her room, and the fact that he had to drag the chair from her dressing table all the way to her closet, then pile telephone books on top of the chair just to reach the top shelf was a clue to him that he was doing wrong. But he had to find the key. He just had to.
His mother had worn the heavy gold chain with a lock around her neck his whole life, or at least as long as he could remember. The lock was weighty, circular and old, and at the bottom it had some fancy writing in an unknown language. But the lock wasn’t beautiful, it was more like bizarre. David often asked his mom about it when he was littler. She told him that her father had given it to her before he was born, and that her father was now in heaven, and so this gift was so special to her she never wanted to take it off.
Other people asked about it too - The lady at the grocery store, his teacher at school, and his friends had all made comments about it - The heavy chain looked out of place against her delicate features, and she wore it every day, no matter how she was dressed. But his mother handled every inquiry graciously, only replying that “It was a treasured gift from my father.” It bothered him that people thought she was strange, because he thought she was wonderful. She was young and beautiful, the most beautiful mom in the whole world.
But he wished she would take off the chain! A frenzied sort of curiosity had begun to grip him. What would happen if she took off the chain? What would she look like without it?
At night he had begun to have dreams about his mother, her chain, and the lock that kept the chain around her neck. In his dreams the lock was huge and shining. Opening the lock became an epic quest that promised treasure or clues to a fantastic mystery. Sometimes he would find a key to the lock, he would dig it up or find it on the ground, or it would be given to him, and always he would wake up just as he was turning the key.
Once he dreamed his mother choked on the chain, but he couldn’t free her because he couldn’t take the chain off her neck. This nightmare was the worst - His mother was his only family and if he lost her he would be all alone in the whole world; This thought was devastating. Whenever his dreams became nightmares he would wake up crying and run into his mother’s room and snuggle close to her under the covers, and always the heavy lock would knock against the top of his skull as he laid his head against her breasts. He hated that lock. And the chain. He had to take them off her neck!
The only way to take the chain off was to open the lock with a key - and David had just found the key! Well, he wouldn’t know for sure it was the key until he tried it in the lock, but he had a good feeling about it. After all, the key was gold and small, just the right size - It had to be the right one.
Quickly David slipped the key into his pocket and put the jewelry box back in the top of the closet. Then he dragged the chair back to its place at his mother’s dressing table. He closed the closet door, and scanned the room to make sure everything was back in place. Nothing looked messed up that he could see, so he left the room and went back to playing in his own bedroom, where his mother thought he had been this whole time. He would wait to try the key in the lock when his mother was asleep.
That night, David lay in bed with his eyes closed, but he couldn’t sleep. The anticipation was too great. The key was right under his pillow!! In the morning, he would wake up early while his mom was still sleeping, creep into her room and slip the key into the lock. That was his entire plan. He figured he would wait until morning because he couldn’t count on staying awake until she went to bed and fell asleep hours from now - and he always woke up earlier than her anyway. He hoped she wouldn’t wake up before he turned the key - If she took the key from him he may never have another chance to take off her chain. He would have to be very very quiet. He visualized how he would tiptoe into her room in the morning with the stealth and precision of a government spy - he repeated this scenario over and over in his head until finally he fell asleep.
David woke before dawn with all the excitement of Christmas morning. He didn’t have to look at his Batman digital clock to know his mom was still sleeping - It was still dark outside. He threw off the covers and slid his legs to the carpet quickly but softly. He knew that if he lept out of bed as he usually did he would make a thud on the floor and he didn’t want to do that. He turned back to the bed and felt under his pillow for the key. Now all he had to do was walk to his mother’s room as quietly as possible.
David walked down the hall normally, but when he got to his mother’s bedroom he began his super-stealthy tiptoe procedure. He opened the door very very slowly, just a crack at a time, and luckily, the door didn’t creak. Then he literally put all of his weight on the balls of his toes and step by step he made his way around the bed to where his mother lay.
As he reached the head of the bed he paused for a moment to look at his mom. Her blond hair spilled out over the pillow and her long lashes lay softly over her cheeks. She sure was pretty. The chain lay over her neck as usual, with the heavy lock resting over her nightgown right between her breasts.
David drew in closer to his mother, careful to hold in his breath as much as possible so as not to breathe on her. He made an on-the-spot decision not to lift the lock to put in the key - removing the weight might wake her up. Instead, he held it the thumb and first finger of his left hand while he worked the key in with his right hand.
He was suddenly overcome by fear: What would he say to her if she woke up right now? How would he explain that the he had searched through her things, stolen the key from her? Would she think he meant to steal the lock and chain, too? Would she think he was a theif? If he told her the truth would she think he was a liar? It hadn’t occurred to him before that his mother might think badly of him. He loved his mother! What if she were mad at him? How long would she be mad? What if instead of mad, she was disappointed in him - that would be even worse! He realized that even if he were to take the chain off her neck while she was sleeping, there would be no way to return it to her neck without her waking up. He was doomed! He wished he had thought about this before right now.
The key was already in the lock. There was no turning back now. He might as well turn the key. If he turned the key, unlocked the lock, he didn’t have to take the chain off. He could lock the lock again, and he would have done what he set out to do, and then he could take the key back and leave, and return the key to her box tomorrow. Ok, that was the new plan.
David slowly turned the key in the lock, until he felt it click into place - and suddenly light began to shoot out of the lock! His mother’s eyes fluttered open and her mouth opened too, but before any sound could come out the light surrounded her and lifted her up into the air. The lock and chain slid off her neck and fell onto the pillow in the depression where her head had been.
“Mommy!” David screamed and jumped on to the bed, wrapping his body around her legs as she hovered vertically in the air. He squeezed his crying eyes shut as he held on for dear life, desperately praying that this was a dream and he would wake up in his own bed and could take it back, take it all back, go back to yesterday, put the key back -- Then David felt his mother’s hand on the top of his head and he gazed up at her, squinting through the light emanating from her body.
“David,” she said. “I love you. I’m going back to heaven now, David. All of this time, I kept a secret from you, but now you know. I’m not from Earth David, but I came here to have you - You are a miracle, David, and I love you. I will always love you.”
And then the light brightened until David couldn’t see her anymore, and he squeezed her as tight as he could, trying to hold onto her, until he found himself hugging his own body, and his mother was gone. He collapsed onto the bed where she had been sleeping only moments before, and he cried himself to sleep.
When David woke it was light outside and he was snuggled in his mother’s bed. For one groggy moment he was happy, until he opened his eyes and saw the golden chain on her pillow. David shot out of bed and went screaming through the house, searching for his mother, and when he couldn’t find her he raced back to the bedroom and picked up the lock and chain - But there was no more key. Frantically, David searched the bedclothes of his mother’s bed, looking for the golden key. If only he could find the key, he could close the lock again and bring his mother back. Where could it be?!