The Time Key

Her key did not fit in the lock on her apartment door. Try as she might, it would not go in. She looked at the door to make sure it was her apartment. In bold gold numbers were the numbers 1761. It was definitely her door. She couldn’t understand why this key was not fitting. She had lived in this apartment for a year and had never had this problem before.
She decided to go to the main office to see if they had changed the lock for some reason. As she headed there in the pouring rain, she mumbled quietly to herself about this predicament she was in. It had been a long hard day and all she wanted was a warm bath and end the night with chamomile tea and a good book. Now she was having to trudge through the rain with no umbrella to the main office.
When she arrived she was drenched and angry. She opened the doors and there sat the receptionist eager as always to help. She explained her situation. The young woman looked up her apartment number and said “No there have been no changes to the lock to your apartment, Ma’am. She flinched at the title Ma’am, but decided to let it go. “Well can I speak to the manager please, I need to get into my apartment and my key does not fit into the lock.”
“I’m sorry, he’s not here, but if you like I can get the janitorial staff to assist you,” the young woman offered.
“Would you please?” Debra asked.
“Sure, I’ll be right back.” She got up and went into the back office. Debra could hear mumbling, but was not able to overhear the conversation. The young woman returned and said that the janitor would be right with her. As Debra stood there still dripping wet, she could see the time to have a relaxing evening dissipate.
Minutes later, the janitor appeared, a ring of keys in his hands. He carried a large umbrella, enough room for the two of them to walk back to her apartment. He made small talk about the weather on their way back, With each stride Debra responded appropriately, glad he did not delve into her private life or where she worked. It was difficult living the life she lived in two different worlds, but that was what she signed up for and would be working there until she retired.
Finally, they approached her building and he held open the lobby door for her. What a gentleman, she thought, rare these days. The walk to her doorway seemed endless. Perhaps, because she was so tired and needed some food. Dinner, she had forgotten she needed to eat too. That would be first on her list once she got in.
They approached her door and the janitor flipped through the keys looking for the one that would fit her door. He went through the roll once and then again.
“Sorry, ma’am” your key does not seem to be here. That’s funny, because I checked the ring before I left.”
She felt her impatience rising within. “Now what should I do, sir?”
“I’ll head back to the main office and look for it on my way back. Go have a seat in the lobby, you look like you could use it,” he stated and with that he left her standing there wondering if he would return. She had not thought to ask him if he would return if he didn’t find it. As she headed to the lobby, she contemplated what she should do if he did not find the key. Perhaps her friend, Tiffany, would let her stay the night.
She sat down in the deep cushioned arm chair allowing the support of the chair to relax her body. As she sat there, it occurred to her that she could call a locksmith. Rather than wait for the janitor, she pulled out her cell phone, looked up locksmiths under google, and dialed the first one she saw not wanting to waste time to look at reviews.
The man who answered the phone sounded kind. She explained her situation and asked if he would be able to help her. “Yes, ma’am! I’ll be right over.” There it was ma’am again. What was it with people here, she thought. Why did everyone call women, Ma’am? She relayed her address and ended the call. He said it would take him 20 minutes to get there.
So she waited, glad she was able to sit, even though she was soaking wet. Despite being wet, she started to feel tired. She relaxed more realizing this might be the only part of the evening where she might actually get a chance to rest.
She went through the events of the day from the chase to the arrest. And as she dozed off, her last thought as she was nodding off, she recalled her boss saying to her before she left. “Check your key to make sure it is the right one.” What did he mean by that? she thought. Why would my key not be the right one. Suddenly she remembered why it wasn’t fitting. She was not at home. She was just passing through. Her evening had not even begun yet. In fact, it would soon be morning.
She jumped up, propelled into action, and headed out the door. All that had transpired was not real, but fictitious. She was part of a plot a story that would never end unless she found her way out. She remembered the movie with Jim Carey where he lived in a world that was not real and everything was the same everyday. This was not true for this world, she thought. Everyday, was different even the mundane things.
As she walked outside, she saw blue sky and the sun rays illuminating the earth creating shadows where the trees stood. It had finally stopped raining. As she left she was remembering more about her way out. She walked to her car, got inside, drove off heading towards the place where she knew she could escape this reality she was in.
As she drove she recalled the events that led to this situation. She remembered opening a door with the same key, supposedly returning home from work. Her job was a police detective in this reality. She finally arrived at the warehouse, got out of her car, and headed over to the door. After opening it, she waited for her eyes to adjust to the low level light in there. And then she spotted it. A singular door that looked as if it led to a hallway of some kind, but very similar to her apartment door. She walked over gripping the key in her hand. She hoped her assessment was correct or she had just left a janitor and a locksmith who were attempting to help her.
She reached the door and slid the key into the lock. It fit. Breathing a sigh, she turned the key, turned the knob, and braced herself for stepping through the door. She could go back and live that life, but she knew it was not her life. It was the life of a story one that was being written as she lived it. So she pushed on the door and entered what she knew was her life.

silhouette photo of person holding door knob
Photo by George Becker on

There behind the door was a blue sky and sun same as she had seen in the old reality, except this was with more trees than she had seen in awhile. And there before her stood her apartment building set off of the street surrounded by plush landscaping, flowers blooming, spring scents, birds chirping their songs. She paused to enjoy the moment. Nature had always centered her and she needed that now.
Finally, she headed towards the apartment building and into the lobby. Once inside, she headed for the elevator, and pressed seven. The doors slowly glided closed. As the elevator ascended she pulled out her key chain. Now knowing which key was her apartment door, she found herself longing to be inside her apartment. True her day was just starting, but she was close to her home.
The doors slid open, she stepped out, and walked to her apartment door. Number 7611. And there it was with the same type of bold, gold plated numbers. The door even looked the same. Odd how the numbers were so similar, but now that she was back she did not want to concern herself about it. She lifted her hand and started to insert the key, but it wouldn’t fit. Where was she at now? What reality had she entered and where should she go for help?
It intrigued her that wherever she went her job and name stayed the same. With that thought, she decided to head over to the police department where she could assist in whatever way possible. A different reality meant a different purpose for her here to resolve in this time period. She would have to work this one through before she knew the answer to that.


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