The House of Missing Keys

She stopped for a moment to steady herself.  The thought of this being what it’s like to have dementia crossed her mind.

She went to check her purse again. It sat on the flowered rattan seat by the front door.  Again she dumped the contents of on the seat cushion.  Again she saw that the keys weren’t there.

Everything was a whirl of thoughts about where she’d been and what she’d done in the house.  She went to the kitchen again, scanned the counters.  She opened the refrigerator, although she was pretty sure her keys wouldn’t be there.  Had she even opened the refrigerator?

She’d not been in the bedroom.  Or had she?  Time seemed to have collapsed in on her.  From the time she used the keys to open the door, until this very moment, she could not sort out the series of her actions in chronological order.

Finally, she collapsed on the matching flowered rattan sofa — she’d helped him pick the chair and sofa — dropped her face in her hands, and wept.  Wept for the misplacement of her keys, wept for all the hurt and the fighting, for all the violence she had seen with him right up until this moment.

When she had cried herself out – how much time had passed.  She had no idea.

Well, she’d have to leave her car where it was, parked out on the street, go home, retrieve her spare key, then come back to get the car.

She hated the idea of riding the bus back home.  She didn’t want to be in the public eye right now.  People staring at her.  Knowing what she’d done.  Of course not.  Still, she knew she’d feel that way.  She felt sticky, her guilt like glue, coating her, all the evidence of her crime adhering to her, a billboard announcement to the world that she was the one who’d done this.

But she could not find those damn keys.  She was sure, now she’d expended almost all the energy she had, that she’d looked everywhere.  At least twice.

Picking herself up, then picking up her purse, she looked once more at his body on the carpet, shuddered, then closed the door behind her.

The bus ride home was uneventful; it proved much easier than she’d feared.  She retrieved her spare car key, took the bus back, and drove her car home.

For a while before she left, though, she stood with the car door open, focused on his house.  It was one she would never see again, she hoped.  Now that he would charm her no more, harm her no more, she’d never return.

Of course, she thought, as she drove home, the perpetrator always returns to the scene of the crime.  And she’d done that to get her car.

So that’s my return to the scene, she thought, shuddering again.

As she sat at her dining room table, sipping a beer – one of his beers, of course — she wondered if the police would be able to trace the keys to her. Undoubtedly they would find them. Her car key and her house key. And his house key. Could those keys lead back to her? Her fingerprints? No, hadn’t he been the last one to handle them? He’d grabbed them from her, right? Where had he put them then?

She took a final swallow of his last beer, went over to the kitchen sink, and vomited up all of it.

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