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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Lock (03/06/06)

TITLE: Only A Key Will Do
By Patricia Charlton


Only A Key Will Do

Surprises, I love them. What I love even more was word puzzles. So, when I found a note stuck to the bathroom mirror this morning, my heart raced. The note said, “under the bed and over the top, you will find a brown box.” What could this mean? Pulling the note off the mirror and rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I stumbled toward the bed. There was a brown box under the bed. Now with my heart pounding, I grabbed the item in question. “I wonder what’s inside?” Off came the lid. There inside that box was another box with this note. “Surprise, surprise, keep heading for the prize, inside this box was your surprise.” Off came the lid. There was my surprise. In my hand was a large red heart with a keyhole in the middle. “What surprise is this?” Now, my hand felt a note stuck to the back of that heart.

With that note in hand, I read, “Only one key will open my heart, only one friendship would not depart.” Now, the chase was on. “What friendship would not depart? None of my friends had died. Did the “depart” mean death?” While scratching my head, I returned to the bathroom to get ready for work. While brushing my hair and putting on my makeup, that mirror reminded me of that note. Now, there it was again, that nagging clue, “only one friendship would not depart.” After ignoring that note, I proceeded to my car - again, that nagging clue.

Several hours lately, the traffic was bumper to bumper most of my way home. While constantly checking my rear view mirror, I got an inspiration. “Now, I knew what that clue meant. My grandma died. Didn’t she leave me her antique chest? Where did I put that old chest? Hurry up cars, I want to get home!”

With a turn of my key in the front door lock, I finally arrived in my foyer. There it was again, that nagging clue - “only one friendship would not depart.” “Now, where did I put that chest? Was it in the basement?” After a frantic search, I climbed the basement stairs. “Now, it’s not in the basement. Where did I put that chest?” With my heart pounding and mind racing with this clue, I started supper. “Lord, where did I put grandma’s old chest?”

While cleaning up after supper, that nagging feeling returned. “Did you put that chest in the attic? Perhaps!” Down went the dishcloth, a quite walk down the hall and bounding up the stairs; the chase was on to find my next clue. Would I find it in that antique chest? Now, with a quick tug on the pull chair, the trap door swung down – launching the folding stairs that now rested on the hallway floor. I stepped aside in time to miss the folding stairs. Now, the chase was on to find my next clue. Up the stairs I went.

There before my eyes sat my grandma’s chest. “At last, I found it! I FOUND IT!” With hands shaking, I slowly raised the lid. The only item in that chest was a ring of keys and my next clue. “Keys on ring and a hole in your heart, it maybe here and it maybe not.” Another mystery and many clues, the chase was on. “Now, where did I put my surprise heart? I think it maybe in my jewelry chest?” Off I went in search of my heart.

Now, with the heart in my left hand, my trembling right hand inserted the first key in the hole. The lock did not open. One key, two keys, three keys, the lock still would not open. With the last key in my right hand, I slowly inserted this key into the hole. Now, shaking with anticipation, I turned the key. Click, the lock opened. Slowly I lifted the top off the heart. There, inside was this note. “You will seek for me and find me, when you seek with your whole heart.” (Deuteronomy 4: 29)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Gini Branch03/14/06
What an approach! Enjoyed the unfolding solution. Some editing esp. around the dish washing scene and it's good to go IMHO.
Patricia Charlton03/14/06
Thanks for your word of encouragement. What editing were your suggesting surrounding the disk washing scene.

Patricia Charlton
Jan Ackerson 03/15/06
I wasn't clear on who left the treasure hunt, and on the narrator's leap from the "will not depart" clue to the grandmother (who did depart). It's a clever idea, but needs refinement. I like the fact that your narrator mulled over the clues all day--I certainly would!
Patricia Charlton03/15/06
Jan, refinement in what area? My storyline required that I leave out who left the clues.
Lynda Schultz 03/16/06
On the whole, I think this is a good story. I read this earlier in the week but made no comment. But now that I have permission from you, I'll make a few suggestions from my perspective. There are some things that need "tightening" up. For example: to be consistent, the "was" in the first line should be in present tense: "are". You repeat "while" and "now" a lot. Those sentences could be reworked to eliminate the "wordy" words. The sentence where you are brushing your teeth and putting on your makeup makes it sound the mirror is doing those actions.
The sentence about coming home in traffic is awkward - perhaps something like: "The traffic was bumper to bumper as I made my way home several hours later." A couple of word misses (which I do all the time) was "quite" in this sentence: "Down went the dishcloth, a quite walk down the hall and bounding up the stairs; the chase was on to find my next clue" should be "quick" maybe? Also you should try to bring these action words into agreement: "walk and bound" or "walking and bounding"- this sentence was also a bit awkward. Shorter sentences often pack more punch. In the next sentence, I am guessing you meant "pull chain."
All of these are fussy things but they really do make the difference between good and great. Keep at it, Patricia. You are doing well.
Patricia Charlton03/16/06
Thanks Linda!
Your comments will make this piece and others great. My next step in this writing journey is a self editing course. Please, fell free to comment on any further articles. Truly your comments are welcome.
Pat Guy 03/16/06
I think this is a good take on the topic - really clever! And fun to read.

Just come up with a unique way for Gramma to have left the first clue (since she has already departed), edit and tightened it up some, and you've got a fun read with a wonderful message!

A good ride!
Jessica Schmit03/16/06
what an entertaining read! Quick moving and filled with twists and turns. You kept my interest the entire read (something very difficult to do). I did find it a little hard to believe WHO sent her the clues. Were you trying to say that Jesus put them there? Was it a Christian friend. I thought that was the most confusing part of thet story. The end verse was great!
terri tiffany03/16/06
Very nice! I was going to suggest dropping some 'nows' as they really started to stick out too much but someone already did a nice critque for you. You really only need some little editing here and there and change up some of the sentence structures for interest and this story will be even better!!
Shari Armstrong 03/16/06
A delightful treasure hunt :) Check your use of maybe vs may be, "maybe here and it maybe not.” try "it may be here and maybe not." Some really fun stuff!
Teri Wilson03/16/06
OK, we really want to know who left the clues... This was a great idea. You need to watch your tense. Make sure you pick a tense and stick to it (present or past). And I agree that you should get rid of some of the "now"s. But a good story - great job.
Teri Wilson03/16/06
It's me again - I left a comment earlier about tense. This is always a tricky area. Here is a tip - when I am finished writing and editing a piece, I always read over it one last time just to check my verb tenses to make sure they all agree.
Patricia Charlton03/16/06
I love the constructive comments. Keep them comming.

Shari, why do I need to separate the first "maybe" and not the second?

Terri, I checked this piece four to five times before entering. I get confused with the tenses. Thanks for your insight.
Caitlynn Lowe03/16/06
Very creative! A really enjoyable read. :)
Virginia Gorg03/17/06
Cute story - but I wonder how long the note was on the dresser before she saw it. Days? Weeks? I like the nagging clues that lurked in her brain all day.