autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

key frame, stone, ring

it is said for each, seven keys are made. commonality that weaves and runs through nothingness until meeting. each meeting, a doorway, each doorway, a lesson, each lesson, a step closer to freedom.

i have been through this crazy place, stuffed end to end with so many brick walls and secret doors. i have walked and run, staggered and crawled, shuffled soul-weary and despairing, blind, with trembling fingers, tapping lightly along every inch, seeking the crevice, looking for rusty locks.

i have found three. i thought a fourth, but was mistaken. i thought a fourth, but was mistaken. i thought a fourth, but was mistaken. i thought a fourth, but was mistaken.

i have lost count.

cried, sighed, tried, pried, scryed, plied wide. not many rhymes left.

shake it off, shake it off, ego bruised and bloodied, backed into the corner, chanting apologies like mantra. seven years old, she whispers, ‘if you say ‘i’m sorry’ enough, you’ll be forgiven.’ spotlight is instant and, frozen, she is wild-eyed, stricken and scared. i blink and she falls through the floor and is gone.

the remaining keys draw me back. they sing-song, they jingle mockingly and clank, sharing their secrets with one another…. never with me. sitting in the corner, in the attic, rocking, giggling, whispering memes and madness, i caress the heads of the remainder, count them slowly, reminding myself.

sesame street songs crowd in, purple-felt-vampire-puppet with ridiculous voice, ‘that’s two… count them… two… two keys…’ vapid flourish of padded hands, produce another and loose that trumped up, over-done, exaggerated-so-it-won’t-be-frightening Lugosi laugh, ‘ah-ha-ha-ha-ha! that’s three… count them… three keys…’

shift and snap, the world changes.

someone has a junebug in a mayonnaise jar. sitting by the flagpole, tulips and the flapping of cloth overhead in a good, stiff breeze. hunkered down and focused, if you don’t acknowledge them, they can’t find you. some magic only works when you plead.

not like apologies.

shift and snap, the world changes.

musty attic and motes on ambient light. i clutch the keys to me and sigh with relief.

somewhere downstairs, a doorbell. ignored. an phone ringing. ignored. pounding on the door, muffled voices and barking dogs, an argument with police and then, hurried footsteps up the stairs, a sweater tossed over my shoulders, and whisked away by strangers to stare out a car window as we drive away.

i dropped the keys when they snatched me off the floor. left them there. they wouldn’t listen and not even pleading magic worked.

i thought i would be a locksmith, but the keys all sound the same now. chuckling and ringing and never anything but cold in my hands.

i thought i found the place once. but the house was torn down. smooth lot and a sign announcing some shopping center. most times, i forget. and these days, the keys work when they’re suppose to and they don’t whisper or ring at all.

last week i found a keyring under my pillow. lumpy with rust and with the same latch as i remembered. shaking and sluggish, i let it sit in my palm, flakes of oxidation making odd patterns, the wind through the window seemed to be writing there.

seven small lines, appearing, five taken away. that leaves two. as i hug the number and rock, the chimes catch air and it feels like benediction, like blessing. i carefully find my purse and turn it upside down, the keys fall onto the bed and gleam under moonlight.

mass of metal and mayhem, strung upon a convenient bar for quick release. i count…and smile… five on one side… two on the other.