Gold Key

My father is driving me home. He doesn’t have to-I have a bus pass. But he feels compelled to.

He’s spilling tears and secrets in equal amounts. He pulls over when we get to my place. His voice wobbles.

“There’s a thing called a gold key, Elizabeth. It’s a house key that’s been cut down and gold plated.”

I can’t think of what to say.

“It’s a charm.”

“For or against what?” I ask.

He has no answer. “It’s a key. A charm to get into a house.”

I nod. Does he want me to make one? Is there one in the Safety Deposit Box, waiting for me to go on a secret journey of discovery?

He takes a deep breath. “I’m telling you so you know. When the time comes.” And starts crying again.

This sets me off, and we’re sitting in the hot car, weeping together.

“I’m sorry, Dad, I wish I could help you. Do something, say something.” I wipe my eyes. “I wish I could be more useful.”

“You are being useful,” he says. “We’ll get through this.” This is what I would say to him right after Mom died: We’ll get through this. People do.

We WILL get through this. People do. But what about the gold key?

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