The Key of Choice

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia’s Picture It & Write. The part in italic was edited from the paragraph contributed by Ermisenda Alvarez.

Madame Sadie waved her cloaked arm over the table. A few dozen keys were suddenly littered out in front of me without a sound. With a gnarled, elderly hand, she spread them out. This couldn’t be real. Surely it was just hocus pocus. But, what if it wasn’t? The woman stared at me intently, waiting for my choice.

“All I want is a new start,” I sighed. These keys wouldn’t help that journey.

The crone responded in a hoarse voice, “What do you value most, young man?”

Dreams, Love, Heart, Memory, Life, Wealth, Health… and many more keys glistened. I wanted to grab them all. Which one should I choose? My fingers pushed them about. Hope, Peace, Success… I picked up the one that said Security and pondered it.

“To always be safe,” Sadie crackled. “An interesting virtue to value above the others.” I didn’t care for the way she peered down her crooked nose at me, as if I hadn’t the wisdom to make this decision.

“It wasn’t my key of choice,” I answered, twiddling the key about in my fingers before letting it drop back to the table. “But I suspect you underestimate its worth. Security is much more than safety.”

She reached out a thin finger, and with a long, curved and yellowed nail, she pushed forward the key that said Wisdom. “You must know that with Security there is no risk, and for much to be gained, much must be risked. Come now. I haven’t all night. Choose and choose wisely.”

I didn’t care for her tone any more than her haughty air, and I particularly didn’t like the way she seemed to have read my thought. I could feel the disdain in her steel gaze. I poked around the keys again and pushed the one that said Patience out in front of her. An electric reproach crawled on my skin. There was something really creepy about this woman.

The choice seemed impossible. It didn’t matter how much I sorted. Something was wrong. The key I was looking for should be easy to spot. It would be more tarnished than all the others.

“I don’t understand,” I finally said. “There’s a key missing. Where is Truth?”

Sadie’s crooked smile failed to smooth the wrinkles in her ancient lips. “That key was taken by the young girl who was here just before you.”

Relief washed over me. I could not pick what was not there. “Did she take long to decide?” I asked.

With invisible slight-of-hand, my haggard hostess produced the shiniest key between her fingers and held it up with a flourish for me to see. It said Grace. “She considered this key a long time before taking the other,” came the answer.

“Save your parlor trick for someone else old witch,” I declared. “What I value now is the girl who knew which key to take.”

© 2012 Anne Schilde

About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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15 Responses to The Key of Choice

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    “The girl who knew which key to take”…. That’s a great ending, Anne.
    You absolutely BLOW ME AWAY you think of so many story ideas. You’re just amazing! Your imagination is infinite!!! Vivid writing, again 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Hehe! My name means “grace” so I was actually the girl who sneaked in and stole his Truth key. I’ll get a dang boyfriend somehow! 😀 Thanks so much always, Noeleen!

  2. joetwo says:

    I have always found truth to be a double edged sword, perhaps tempered with a little tact. Excellent story though 🙂

  3. This may be my favorite story of your yet. I love it. Deep with meaning, entertaining, and leaves you wanting so much more! My key may have “Envy” written on it.

  4. Ermilia says:

    I love how you weaved the paragraph I originally wrote into the story so effortlessly. I agree with 1 Story a Week, your story is deep with meaning. Great story. Thanks for contributing this week to Picture it & write! 🙂

    – Ermisenda

  5. terri0729 says:

    Marvelous, Anne!!! What a great story you wound around this one, I love it! hugssss

  6. Omg you instantly pulled me into your little world of fiction from the very beginning! So so well-written… You are so talented Anne 🙂

  7. Chatter Master says:

    Well….WOW! I was just reading along and felt sucker punched, in a very good way, with that. I loved it. Can one be suckered punched in a good way? If so, I was. If not I need a better phrase. I’m just too tired to produce it. I loved this. 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      My first thought was that question, but since this is your experience and you say you were, I have to say yes, it has now been established that you can! I love the Picture It & Write prompts!

      • Chatter Master says:

        I must say, that was a brilliant post to the prompt. And thank you, being sucker punched will now hold a pleasant memory. 🙂

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