He turned the key and his world changed. Smoke rose from the steering column; the consol lit up like Christmas.
No…not now - please.
He turned the car off but the smoke lingered.
What had he just said to his wife? Oh yeah,
“At least the car isn’t broken like everything else.”
This can’t be happening.
In defiance of reality, he turned the key again and that was all the little smoke needed to be set free; flames burst forth. Onlookers called 911.
It was done.
Sitting on the curb watching the tow truck take the car to the auto graveyard, Seth felt the last of his bare-knuckled insistence that things might turn out good seep away.
He was done.
He called a cab after buying again the market essentials that melted in the car.
When the Mill closed down the city had reduced bus service to the morning and evening rush hour. No affordable way to get Celia to her treatments. No way to get to the only part-time job he could find that gave him the flexibility to care for his wife. No way to get to his Mom’s across town…
Every direction Seth turned there seemed to be no way through the mounting obstacles.
The cab came to a stop in front of Seth’s apartment building; he carried the weighty bags to his door. After struggling to hold the bags and turn the key, he put them down. As he looked at his chain he realized that another key was now obsolete. First, had been the key he’d cherished in his duties as manager of the opera house. His dream of being conductor vanished long ago but being surrounded by the cacophony of music and song seemed almost as good some days. He’d cherished it.
When Celia got sick he gave all he had to care for her and to still manage the opera house well. He eventually lost the battle and though they were able to survive on her disability they couldn’t keep their home. Moving into the small apartment was both a blessing and a curse; less to take care of but nowhere to go for peace, nowhere to go to shut out the need.
Seth set down the bags inside the door just in time to answer the phone on the first ring, before it awakened Celia.
“Hey, Mom, how are you?”
“I don’t want you to worry but I had a little fall. Those darned steps! Just a bump really but the neighbor called the ambulance and I’m at the hospital. Can you come, Son?”
After too long a silence,
“Yes, of course Mom. Are you okay?”
“I think so, but I’ll have to figure something out. I don't know if I can go home...”
Key chain still in hand Seth slunk to the floor. For a time, his mind went blank, and try as he might he couldn’t form a thought. As he sat there he began to finger the keys on his chain, and one by one he removed them.
First, the opera house…time to let that go. He placed it onto the floor next to his foot.
Then, their house key; bank owned now but Seth had hung onto his spare, thinking that if he did the change would be temporary. He laid it aside the first key.
Next, the car…no sense having a key to melted metal and plastic; the line continued.
His Mom’s apartment key. He’d hang onto that but he knew it wouldn’t be long. That old song from high school about another one biting the dust came to mind.
That left their apartment key and the tiny, odd-shaped one that was on the chain when his Dad had given it to him before he died. Fingering it, he remembered his Dad’s words,
“One day, Son, you will realize that there is really only one thing you need. This key will unlock the only thing I have worth giving you.”
No doubt about what that was; he knew. He’d put it away at the time, loving his Dad but not his archaic Book. He brought down the dusty old tome from the bookshelf, turned the tiny key in the small lock and…
his world changed.
Isaiah 33:6 was bookmarked,
“He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.”
Riches lost, treasures found.
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