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The Lost Keys



Yesterday morning, I went out for a short walk. I felt restless and lonely and went to the park at least to meet someone else who’d gotten out on that gloomy morning, with the gray sky above me imminent rain. I found a key chain by the path leading into the park. Laying by the shaft, it was half-covered by dry autumn leaves, hanging on the edge, as if waiting for the incoming rain to push it into the sewer. I stopped and picked it up. The keys were gray, clustered on a small ring. I looked around to see if someone was searching for them. There wasn’t anyone around, so I decided to hang them on a branch on a nearby tree and left for home.

Once in my apartment, I began to marvel about the event. I knew that finding a key brings good luck. Symbolically, it is like opening a new door. What does it mean to lose one’s keys, though? Does a person get jinxed in some way, lose his path in life? I have never been superstitious, but I let my thoughts gravitate around my quirk.

I tried to imagine the person who’d lost his keys. Once he got home, he searched for the keys in his pockets but failed to find them. I tried to create a mental image of him or her in my head. He seemed to be a gray person, with an ordinary, almost gray life. The keys were gray, probably opening a gray door to a gray, bleak apartment, displaying a similar life. The person must have thought that a thief might sneak into his apartment and rob it, leaving it more miserable than it was before.

He must have panicked. He probably tried to figure out where he had lost the keys. Should he call his landlord to open the door? No. It’s too early. He would have to pay the landowner for the trip. Such thoughts passed through his head as he was retracing his steps, looking down, searching for his keys. It started drizzling. The person found some items; I imagined—a lost cross, four-leaved clover, a box of cigarettes, and near the place where I found his keys, he’d found a business card stuck to a tree with a pushpin.

The gray person looked at everything that he’d found carefully and decided that these were symbols, signs to help him find his path to the lost keys, to find his Way.

At first, the person took the cross and knelt. He started praying to God. He hadn’t prayed for a while, but then he did fervently. However, he didn’t believe much in God, and perhaps because of this, God didn’t send him a sign, a direction—the person didn’t find his keys. People passed him by, and seeing him with a cross in his hand praying with conviction, they thought, "Look at him, he’s found his Faith and Way." Little did they know that he had lost both!

After that, he took out the four-leaved clover he’d put it in a folded piece of paper to bring him luck. With the clover in hand, he continued to look around for the keys. People saw him holding the clover and thought that he was a lucky one, but it was the other way around—wasn’t he a person without any luck, who had lost his key, his Way?

Then the person decided to take a break and took out the pack of cigarettes and lit one. He leaned on a tree, smoking. People were passing him by and thought, "That man does not worry about a thing in this world. He just hangs out, puffing—everything must be all right with him." Little did they know that he could not open the door to his apartment, and he hadn’t any hope!

At last, the person found the business card pinned to the tree. Someone wrote a message on it, but the rain had blurred it. He took the business card and began to fiddle with it. At last, desperate, he decided to call the number on it.

I heard the phone ringing at noon the same day, with emotion, urgently and worriedly, as if someone was looking for help—or was I only imagining it? How could the phone ring with emotion?

I picked it up. On the other end, after a pause, I heard a nervous woman’s voice. She asked, almost worried by the possibility that I would shout angrily for having been called by a stranger if I had, by any chance, found her lost keys somewhere around the park?

"I have," I affirmed, "This morning. Let’s meet next to the path that leads into the park. Be there in ten minutes."

I dressed and left my apartment, holding her keys in hand. Before, I had returned and taken the keys from where I’d left them so that someone else to whom they didn’t belong wouldn’t take them. Then I wrote "Found Keys" on my business card and pinned it to the tree—you understand we should help each other, shouldn’t we, when we lose our keys?

Submitted: May 20, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Robert Ratman. All rights reserved.


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