Last night I was roaming around twitter and came across this post with this picture: https://twitter.com/nmamot/status/483097564502192128
A single door, with two keyholes
It was one of those weird moments of inspiration. Something about the picture captivated me, and my imagination started to run wild. Why are there two keyholes? What could be the purpose?
I’ve had moments like this before, but unfortunately life tends to get in the way and the ideas and inspiration fade. Fortunately I took this one to the next step and followed through on the story. This is only a rough draft, I haven’t edited it at all. I have no idea if I’m going to continue this story or if it will stay like this, but I’d love to hear what you think!
The Second Key
By Jaime Horio
John grabbed a bottle of water from the kitchen and wandered down the hall. He went the long way, around the living room, to avoid most of the crowd.
His grandmother’s funeral had been hard. Everyone knew how close he and his grandmother were. She had spent years helping to raise him while his father was in the hospital. His mother loved him, but raising a child while your husband is slowly dying can be hard on anyone.
In many ways John’s grandmother was more of a mother to him than his own.
He recalled fondly the stories she would tell to help distract him from the pain he felt about his father’s illness. Fantastical tales of fairies, talking animals and all sorts of flying creatures. When he closed his eyes he could almost see them, almost hear them talking to him.
But as quickly as the memories came, they faded away. When John was 12, he moved back in with his mother. His father had passed away, and she was able to care for him again. They moved to another state to get away from the memories of their old home. Unfortunately this meant he rarely got to see his grandmother.
Now he was 15, and he hadn’t seen her in close to a year and a half. Suddenly his grandmother became ill, and before John could come to visit she had died.
When they came to the funeral, many of John’s old friends were in attendance. He felt excited to see them, but also sad because they reminded him of a happier time.
After the funeral everyone had returned to his grandmother’s house. He spent some awkward time trying to catch up with his friends, but they eventually left. The only people left at the house were his mom and some aunts and uncles.
As John walked down the hallway toward his grandmother’s old bedroom he turned down the small corridor to his right. There were no lights in this part of the hallway, only a small window looking out over the garden. He came to a door with a key in it. He reached out and hesitated.
This was the room where his grandmother would tell him the fantastic stories he loved so much. He let a breath out and reached forward to open the door.
Disappointment washed over his face as he opened the door. There was nothing special about this room. The floors were old wood, and there was a rickety looking rocking chair in the corner. The sun shone through the window past the chair and onto a small wooden chest.
John looked around. The rest of the room was empty except for dust. It looked like no one had been into this room for years.
He knelt down in front of the chest. He wasn’t sure if he should, but he decided to open it. He didn’t know what he expected to find.
What he saw left mixed emotions deep inside of him. There were two pairs of leather boots. They looked like something you would see at a renaissance fair. What tore at him was that one pair was small – his grandmother’s size. The other pair was even smaller. The size that would fit a young child who was 8 or 9 years old.
He had no memory of ever wearing these with his grandmother, but somehow he knew that these were his boots. Underneath the boots was a bag that rattled when he picked it up. He reached inside and pulled out a handful of keys. There were all kinds of keys, none of them looked the same. The only thing consistent was that they looked old with very ornate designs. These definitely weren’t modern keys, but the kind you would see in a movie set in the middle ages.
John smiled. His grandmother must have collected old keys. He had been taking an interest in going to museums to see ancient artifacts. Maybe he learned this from his grandmother.
John looked through the keys and put them back in the bag. He rummaged through the trunk but didn’t find much else interesting. It was full of what he figured had to be costumes. There were leather belts and what looked like hooded cloaks. Maybe he and his grandmother would dress up and that’s why the memories of her stories were so strong.
He packed up the trunk and slowly rose to his feet. By this time the sun was starting to go down and the room was getting dark. He left the room and slowly closed the door. He decided that he wanted to keep this memory to himself for a while. He closed the door and slowly turned the key to lock the door.
John pulled the key out and held it in the palm of his hand before putting it in his pocket. Like the keys in the back, this one was old too, but it looked much plainer. Just a simple circle at the top.
It was summer so he didn’t have to go back home to school, so he knew that he and his mother would be staying for a while to help clean out the house. He wanted to be able to come and visit this room when he needed to get away. In time he would “find” the key and let the room get cleaned up.
As her went to walk down the hall, he saw a light from the corner of his eye. He stopped and turned back to the door. There was a bright light coming through the old keyhole.
He scrunched his face. There was no way that the room had that much light left in it. He knelt and looked through the keyhole. But was he saw wasn’t the room. It was too bright to tell much, but the walls were rough like rock. The light was shining too directly at his eye to tell exactly, but he thought he saw water running down the walls. Not a huge flow, but just a trickle.
He stood up and became even more confused. He had never noticed it before, but there were two keyholes. The top hole had held the key he now had in his pocket. Just below it was another keyhole.
Looking down, John saw the key in the palm of his hand. He didn’t even remember pulling it from his pocket. He put the key into the bottom hole and attempted to turn it. Nothing happened. He needed a different key.
Quickly he pulled the key from the door and tried to jam it into the top hole, dropping the key in the process. He hurriedly grabbed the key and was able to get it in on his second try. This time the lock clicked and he pushed the door open.
It was still the same room. No cave. No water. Just a dusty room with a chair and a chest.
Then it hit him. He dove at the chest and grabbed the bag of keys.
He ran back out and relocked the door. The original key went back into his pocket for safekeeping. He didn’t want it mixed up with the dozens of keys in the bag.
Key after key went in and wouldn’t turn. The stack of keys on the floor was starting to get bigger than the bulge of keys still in the bag. Finally, he pulled out a key, stuck it into the bottom whole and when he turned it, there was a click.
John froze. Did he imagine it? He tried turning it again and the door locked. Then unlocked.
He thought for a moment, then grabbed up the remaining keys from the floor and put them back into the bag. He took the strap of the bag and put it over his shouder.
John stood and faced the door. Slowly he reached out to the door and turned the handle. It was a little tight, but the knob turned.
Inch by inch he pushed the door open, and the sunlight shining through the opening on the other end filled the hallway.