The Copper Key

This is just a random short story that I wrote. Hope you like it!

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1. The Copper Key

Standing there in the midst of the trees and grassland stood the library. The thick woods had grown all the way up to the back of the building so you could no longer see that side, and they were so dense that you could barely step in without getting poked by thorns or speared by branches.

    The Maxwell Library was really an old mansion. When the owner, Mrs. Watson, was just a little girl, she inherited it from her grandfather after he passed away. She eventually converted it into a library, but didn’t change much of it; She kept most of the furniture and decor, and moved things around as well as adding bookshelves and computers. Of all the bookshelves, there was one old shelf that had been in the house since Mrs. Watson was a young girl. It held the books she had had, but they were not to be checked out, just looked at within the walls of the library.

    While there was a library in the city, even those who lived there still flocked to the Maxwell Library for the wide selection and to see the antiques. Many regarded it as practically a museum.

    It was on a breezy day in March that Marcie happened to stop by and look at the old shelf. She ran her fingers along the worn covers and pulled out a copy of Great Expectations when out with it came an envelope which dropped to the floor. Marcie picked it up and, seeing the yellowed and torn paper, knew it must be very old. She opened it and found a letter inside:

Dear Irene,

Along with my house I am entrusting to you my most prized possession. You must be clever enough to find it, though. Here is a clue: It will be found at the mansion, and you will need the copper key to do it.

Enjoy the search

Grandfather

Marcie stared at it for about two seconds before racing down the curling staircase to show Mrs. Watson at the front desk. 

"Is this yours?" She asked while handing her the letter. Mrs. Watson gazed at the cursive writing.

 “Yes,” she replied. “Where did you find it?”

“It was between a couple of books on the old shelf.”

“Oh yes, I remember this! I guess I must have forgotten before I opened the library that I put it there for safekeeping.” Then a depressed look came on to Mrs. Watson’s face. “I never did find Grandpa’s prized possession, though.” Then she gave her an odd look. “Would you like to try?”

Me?” Marcie responded, shocked. “Uh, I don’t know, I guess.”

Mrs. Watson pulled something out of her pocket. “Here is the copper key,” she said, handing it to her. It was old and sort of rusty.

“Okay, thanks,” Marcie said and left with her books. Marcie was rather doubtful about the new challenge. She decided she would simply look around the library at the different doors to see if the key would fit in any of them next time she went. Then she could at least tell Mrs. Watson she tried.

A couple of weeks later, Marcie came back to the library and looked at the many different doors. She investigated the keyholes, once seeing a door with a keyhole that seemed too small for any key, and then, right when she was about to stop looking, she saw the door with the keyhole that would fit the copper key perfectly. She tried to open it to see if it was locked; then inserted the key and opened the door. Empty.

She frowned in disappointment and went to the front desk to tell Mrs. Watson, who thanked her for trying and then Marcie left.

Marcie did not go back to the library for a long time, nearly three months. She secretly wondered if Mrs. Watson was mad at her for giving up so quickly. Yet eventually she returned to the library and went up the curling staircase to the old shelf. She pulled out a slightly torn book when she realized there was something behind it. She felt all the way to the wall and touched... a knob. She pulled out more books to reveal a small cabinet behind the shelf. Curiously, she tried to open it. Locked. Then suddenly she saw the keyhole, and it hit her. She reached into her jacket pocket. It’s still gotta be there!  She was relieved to pull out the rusty key. She put it into the keyhole and the cabinet was open. She thought it was empty...until she saw the glint of light. She reached toward the light and discovered a small, silver colored key just larger than her fingernail. She thought about the key for a moment, then something in her memory flashed.

She rushed back down the stairs and to the door, that door that she remembered, that locked door at the back of the library with the miniscule keyhole. Just as she suspected the little key fit right in. Looking to see that no one was watching, she turned the knob and knew that she had found it. The door led straight outside, directly into the woods. But the amazing thing was  that she could actually step into them without being poked by thorns or speared by branches. A trail about three feet wide and covered with stones wound like a snake through the dense trees and undergrowth. Cautiously shutting the door behind her, Marcie ventured onto the stone laden path and followed it until she came to a small clearing. A cherry blossom tree stood tall and proud in the center, and off to the side there was a stone bench partially covered with moss, probably because it had been there so long. She cleared it off and had a seat. Around the tree flowers bloomed and even some vegetables were growing. They must all be perennials, Marcie realized, knowing that it had been years since anyone could have tended the garden.

Eventually, she left and went back down the trail and through the door, locking it with the small key. She could barely contain her excitement as she came to the front desk to find Mrs. Watson, but was surprised instead to see a young lady she had only seen working at the library once or twice.

“Where’s Mrs. Watson?” Marcie asked. “Oh, she’s in the hospital,” the lady replied. “we’ll just have to hope she gets well soon.”

Disappointment seemed to follow her up the stairs as Marcie locked the little cabinet, put the books back in place, and left the library.

About a week or so later Marcie came back to return some books when she saw Mrs. Watson back at the front desk. Marcie said hello to her and she responded, “Yep, I finally convinced them to let me out, as long as I go back and let them check on me every few days.”

Curled up in her lap was Mo, the tabby cat she sometimes had with her at the library. Marcie told her about the cabinet and the little key and the door, but let what awaited behind it be a surprise. “Alright, Mo, time to get up,” Mrs. Watson said gently as Marcie led her to the old door. Mo followed. She took the silver key from her jacket pocket and inserted the key and turned the knob. Mrs. Watson gazed in astonishment.

Together they walked down the trail and came upon the clearing. “Wow,” Mrs. Watson said.

They sat on the bench and talked a while. Then when Marcie realized that Mrs. Watson looked tired, she moved from the bench so that there was room for her to lie down, and she did.

Mrs. Watson looked at Mo, then the garden, and lastly at Marcie. She clasped Marcie’s hand. “Thank you,” she rasped.

She smiled. Finally, with Mo curled up in her lap and Marcie and the cherry blossom tree watching over her, Mrs. Watson fell asleep and did not awake.  

 

    

 

 

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