• Becca McCulloch

Flash Fiction: A Key

In the mood for a story? Flash fiction is a very brief story,

good for capturing a single image or experience.

Here's a piece I wrote earlier today in a 10-minute prompt-based sprint.

The small silver key was nondescript, secure in its anonymity. I wanted it to be a skeleton key, antique and mystery-worthy, but it wasn't. It was the exact key I'd bought at Wal-Mart the week before and marked with a Betty Boop sticker to distinguish my own house key from those belonging to the houses of the dogs I walked at the time. But no. It had no interesting markings, no signs of history. Nothing interesting. Just a generic key to a house I'd never find. The green silk shell I'd bought that day was more of an original. Still, I slipped the key on my ring. Maybe it'd bring me luck. The green shell for $2 had been a lucky find. I'd wanted one like that since ​​I started diving into the retro flea market scene several years prior. On my key ring, the silver key lay between my own apartment and the countless boyfriend keys, each returned almost as quickly as it had been gifted. Time and again, I handled that key as I slipped on love and then slipped off devastation. Only the mystery key held any permanence as the years went by and I changed jobs and apartments and clothing style. The silk shell found its way back to a thrift store and I found myself in stretchy jeans as my personal Middle Ages had their way with my middle. In the end, the key became the only unchanging thing in a life that refused to settle. Maybe that's why I held it in my hand on the day they told me I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. I'd come to the office in want of a baby. They sent me home with cancer instead. My reproductive endocrinologist spoke words of hope with a hopeless stare. My key dangles in the front window now, catching glints of light as days pass along with clouds and cars. I want to be buried with my key, my immortal key. My faithful companion. I twirl it in my fingers as I rock and listen to the woman from hospice cook up food I won't eat. The key, the one thing I've always had. The only hope that remains..

#writing #flashfiction


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