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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Keys To Her Heart
By Joanne Sher


In the dimness of the dusk, she heard silence for the first time that day. She eased into her chair, but felt a bump in her rear pocket as she sat.

Danielle slid her keys from her pants and let them rest in the palm of her hand. She flipped them over and over, focusing on each trinket in turn.

The house key

Probably the least-used item in her hand. Living in a rural area, entry was almost always through the garage. Nothing was within walking distance--at least nothing far enough away that it would require locking the door. Besides, living on a busy road (for a rural area, anyway) made walking down the street somewhat dangerous for her and her young brood.

Yet, she would never leave home without the house key. Too many times the power had been out, making the garage door opener nonfunctional. The one time she had left the house key at home--to head to a conference with some friends--she was stuck outside for a good twenty minutes waiting for her family to return from a lunch out. Since she was getting a ride to the gathering, there had been no reason to take her car keys. The house key, she'd learned that day, was another matter.

The keyless remote for the minivan

She chuckled. It had stopped working months ago. She had to depend on putting the actual key in the actual lock now, and if she wanted to open the slider, she had to (gasp) open it. She'd looked into getting it repaired, but the cost was more than the benefit was worth. Why it was still on her ring was another question. She still occasionally tried using it--when the load and the company were especially heavy--in the hopes that the "keyless remote repair fairy" had waved her wand while Danielle was otherwise occupied. She hadn't shown up yet, but Danielle was hopeful. There was always tomorrow.

Their library card

She and the family loved heading to the local library. It didn't happen as much during the school year, but over the summer it was definitely a weekly occurrence. There was nothing the kids liked more than picking out a new book to read, and sometimes even a video.

They had a nice little children's area where the kids didn't have to be completely silent (Whatever happened to the "shushes" of the libraries of her day? Good riddance, she thought). The best part, of course, was checking out books. It was so much easier to use the key ring card than the one that was inside her wallet. There was always something of a minor battle over who got to swipe the card, and who got to check out first. There were certainly worse things they could be fighting about.

Aaron's picture

She loved that the schools were including the key chain pictures in the picture day packets now. It gave her a chance to eyeball her son, with his typical "I know everything" seven-year-old look, with ease. The picture always made her smile. She knew she'd be getting one from Andrea's school soon. Of course, there was a space on the key ring ready for it, next to her brother's.

The shed key

Her husband called it his shed, but Danielle knew it was more than that. Sure, many of the things locked inside were gardening related, and that was mainly his department. Yet, it was also where the "off season" outdoor toys were stored.

The kids always brightened up when she unlocked and opened its doors. Bicycles and sand toys and such were sure to appear in spring, and summer would bring out the play sprinklers, Slip 'n Slide, and plastic wading pool. Even the toboggan was stored in there for wintertime fun.

Her favorite Mother's Day gift ever

Danielle closed her eyes, sighed, and grinned. The beautiful key chain she had received the previous May from her husband always reminded her of how blessed she was. Attached to a heart-shaped ring were two beautiful dangles. On one were crystals and charms, along with letter beads spelling out her firstborn's name. The second was similar, though the charm was different, and the letters spelled out the name of her youngest. A lovely ornament, like the giver and the children it brought to mind.

Danielle enclosed the entire key ring within her palms and smiled. Her treasure was in her hands.

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This article has been read 1128 times
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Sara Harricharan 05/01/08
Indeed they are keys to her heart! I love how she can hold all her 'treasures' in her hand and the memories attached to them. So real-I could see this playing out in my head. Great job! ^_^
Joy Faire Stewart05/04/08
I enjoyed the way the keys told so much of the MC's life. Very creative.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/04/08
This was a clever way to show a mother's life and her heart. I felt I'd been introduced to them all through her keys. Great job.
Joshua Janoski05/06/08
How unique this story was! I loved how you told the story by describing each item on her keyring. I couldn't wait to finish reading about one item so that I could jump to the next.

Very engaging and very different. I really enjoyed this. :)
LauraLee Shaw05/06/08
This tugged at my heart strings, and your ending was just perfect.
Beth LaBuff 05/06/08
I love the reflection based on each key. I like how you eased into the key vignettes with the "bump in her rear pocket" and the "silence for the first time that day." The reality of the minivan remote that didn't work was a perfect reflection on the imperfection of life. Your idea to write this was very creative. Wonderful entry!
Myrna Noyes05/06/08
Lovely title that goes so well with your clever story! I enjoyed your MC's reminiscences and especially liked the way you ended your piece. Great job! :)
Debbie Wistrom05/06/08
You have made me miss the simple days, when going to the library was enjoyable.

A nice, stop and smell the roses feel to this entry.
Jan Ackerson 05/07/08
Your last sentence is a beautiful clincher. Love the "smallness" of this little intimate glimpse into Danielle's life. Very, very nice.
Peter Stone05/07/08
What a creative way to examine a mother's heart--by examining her keychain and the things it contained.
Loren T. Lowery05/07/08
I loved this walk through this mother's heart and mind. It seemed so real that its simple beauty cannot be ignored. How precious are the memories stored in such places as these.
Betty Castleberry05/07/08
Very sweet, and very well written. I liked what each key represented. You told it well.
Jeffrey Snell05/07/08
Very sweet glimpse! A quiet story told with fondness--hmmm, might you have the keychain in your pocket?
Catrina Bradley 05/07/08
I was surprised at how into this story I was, when I stopped to think about it. Such a simple thing - looking at keys - but you made it interesting! Master at work. :) Just to be nit-picky, I would delete "the" from before "dusk" in the first sentence. But I LOVE the last sentence. :)
Dee Yoder 05/08/08
I love the details in this little snippet of life. I can't think of how many times I've looked at something as insignificant as a keyring, and was reminded of special people and special memories. The ties to the heart are seldom dramatic, but are made up of the mundane.
Laury Hubrich 05/08/08
Loved this. This is totally an experiment gone right, Joanne!
Gregory Kane05/09/08
I love the way you organised this - gently moves from one part of life to the next.
Thanks for the comment on my 'blood' entry. It is 100% true - only the names have been westernised
Dianne Janak05/12/08
I loved this Joanne.. if this was an experiment.. keep it up! What I love is the focus on such a small thing with so much wonderful information on a mother's life... Bravo girl!