The next morning, Charlie groggily made coffee. She had just poured the boiling water into her French press when she heard a knock at the door. She shuffled through the hall and opened the front door. Immediately, her eyes slammed shut against the searing pain penetrating her eyes. Despite it only being 8 am, the sun was bright and in full force already.
“Morning dear,” Gladys, her neighbour from next door, said.
“Good morning,” Charlie said, rubbing her eyes. It was the first time she’d used her voice today and it sound gruff and scratchy.
“Your front yard is looking spectacular! I see you took my advice on those rose bushes.” Gladys sounded pleased.
“I sure did. Your advice with the garden hasn’t lead me astray yet!” Gladys had been helping her for the past year as she’s tried to bring life back into her yard. “What can I do for you?”
“I just got back from my walk when I remembered you mentioning that you were going to drop off a key for me. I thought I’d save you the trip and just pick it up myself.”
Last week, Charlie had locked herself out of her house and had been forced to borrow a ladder from Gladys so she could climb through her second story window. It had cost her a busted screen, a bunch of scraps and bruises, and her wounded pride as she had lost her balance while trying to remove the screen. Thankfully, she had fallen forward through the window and over the desk instead of toppling off the back of the ladder.
To save herself a repeat incident if she locked herself out a gain, she’d asked Gladys if she would mind hanging on to a spare key in case for her. Gladys, who found the whole thing hilarious, was happy to agree.
“That was nice of you, thanks!” Charlie said. “Come on in. It’s just hanging by my back door. Let me grab it for you.”
She had four key hooks by her back door where she allows hung up her keys. She had gone to get a spare key cut a few days ago and she could have sworn she’d hung it there until she had a chance to give it to Gladys, but it wasn’t there.
She had the ring of keys with her house, car, school, and mail key. On the next hook was her spare car key and on the third hook was the key to her bike lock. The fourth hook was empty.
Maybe she didn’t take it out of her purse like she thought she did. She grabbed her purse from the counter and started riffling through it. When that came up with nothing, she began emptying the contents onto the table.
“Everything okay?” Gladys called from where she was waiting by the front door.
“Yes, I’ll be there in just a minute,” Charlie called back. After she’d emptied every pocket and compartment in her purse, she turned to the junk drawer. Maybe she’d thrown it in there without thinking. It seemed to have become a holding drawer for things that didn’t really have a place. She pawed through pencils, rulers, scissors, scraps of paper, crumbs, a lighter, matches, a couple wonky, half-burned candles, a broken watch, but no key.
“Charlie?” Gladys called from the door.
“Be right there.” In a rush, she pulled the drawer out and dumped in on the kitchen floor. Then she spread the contents out so she could see everything better. A couple minutes later Gladys called again.
Resigned, she made her way back to the front door. “I’m sorry Gladys, I know I had one cut the other day, but I seemed to have misplaced it. I’ll drop by later when I find it. Sorry about that.”
“Not a worry,” Gladys said, smiling. “I should get back to Dotty. She’ll be hanging from the drapes if I’m gone too long.” Dotty was her cat who hissed at everyone except Gladys.
After Gladys left, Charlie began to tear her house apart. A couple of hours later her house was a complete disaster. Drawers were yanked out and emptied. Bins and boxes unpacked. It was ridiculous. She knew she’d bought another key and was positive that it had made it in the house. Finally admitting defeat, she decided to go outside. Ignoring the mess that was waiting for her, she grabbed a book, and went to take solace in her garden.