May 10, 2012

The Key



Leef, Guest Contributor

NOTE: Leef is my “Big Sister.”

This piece was published in Buffalo, New York’s, 1960 city-wide publication, Our Best in ’60, the year Leef graduated from Kensington High School. She was honors English class, and turned it in as an assignment. She didn’t know the piece was to be published until September 15th that year, which happened to be her birthday.

“I remembered sitting in the kitchen and Mom handed me an envelope,” she said. “I said ‘Oh, I didn’t order this.’ Then I looked in the table of contents and saw my name…”


     She sat alone by the window, her hands loosely folded. Her face held the look of one resigned to her fate, whatever and however horrible it might be. She was alone, as I said, except for the thoughts locked away in her mind. She laughed softly to herself. How stupid they all were! She would never tell. She couldn’t. She wasn’t going to remember.

            The door to her room slowly and mysteriously seemed to open of its own accord. They were coming! She steeled herself for whatever was to happen. They didn’t scare her. They were lies—all of them lies. That man in his immaculate uniform. He said he was a friend. He wanted to help. She laughed again. She knew what he wanted. Secrets, secrets she would never tell!

            The man came toward her and laid a hand softly on her arm. She shrank back. “No!” her mind cried out. She knew she was growing hysterical. She tried to stop the tears from coming, but she couldn’t. When she turned around again, he was gone. She tried the door but it was locked, just, she said to herself, as her mind was.

            She leaned forward and looked out of her small window. She had heard something—someone singing. It was a child. The little girl sat on the sidewalk holding a rag doll and singing to it. She was tiny and too thin but she looked so happy.

            The woman stood up suddenly. Shock registered in her mind and face. How long ago, how very long ago it was that she had held a child, the same way the little girl was holding her doll, and crooned a soft Irish lullaby to it? The baby—who was the baby? Her brows wrinkled in concentration. Why, it was her baby! It was Anne that she had held. Ah, yes. She remembered now. Ann was ten years old when it happened. The fire!

            “No, No,” cried out her heart, but her mind had not forgotten and would now let her know.

            She was in the building—a school—that’s what it was. Yes, it was a school. The children were crying, but Anne wasn’t there. She had carried out child after child, and then exhausted, had watched as other children were rescued.

     Later, she remembered the morgue. She had sat with mothers, fathers, and other relatives hoping beyond hope her daughter wouldn’t be there. But she was!

     An arm around her shoulder brought her back to the present. It was the uniformed man, her doctor. Now she knew she was going to be all right. Now that she had remembered she could throw away the key and live again.



To Reclaim a Family Farm—Or Not

Preparing for a First Date with Carmena

The Conestoga Wagons and Wagoners: Thomas Read

Adoptee Finds Biological Family: Mine

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story

1 Comment »

  1. Great site, wonderfully eclectic.

    Comment by Faith Trueax — June 4, 2012 @ 8:31 am | Reply

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