Prompt : ” You found the lost key to my heart…I thought it’ll be lost forever “
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It first caught my eye while I was hiding inside the hollow of a tree. Melissa was still counting from the courtyard “twenty… nineteen…” I was squirming with excitement and crept further inside. The inside of the tree trunk felt cool against my skin. “Fifteen… fourteen…” Melissa counts away. I looked around for worms because I didn’t want to give away my hiding spot so easily with my screams. A shadow fell over me, as if an adult had walked by. My neck snapped up to see who it might have been but a something shiny caught my attention. It was just beneath the tree opposite my hiding place. “seven…six”, she was almost done. If I were fast enough, I could put it in my pocket and get back in here before she finds me. I bolted towards this glistening thing.
It was a key, to my surprise. Who could have lost it here? I carefully picked up the old key, whose head had a very intricate design. It’s definitely not ours. Mommy doesn’t have one like this. “You found the lost key to my heart. I thought it’ll be lost forever” said a woman with very soothing voice. I was shocked by the sudden presence of another person and fell on my back. My new companion was an elderly woman, dressed in a white nightgown. She looked hauntingly beautiful, as if there were something surreal about her. “Who are you?” I asked, clearly mesmerized. Remembering my manners, I added quickly, “Why, you can have it, ma’am,” I thrusted the key in her hands but I might have misjudged the distance. It fell on the ground again. I scrambled to pick it up and give it to her but she was…gone.
I kept the key in my pocket, making a mental note to ask mommy and daddy if they knew her. Was she a new nanny? Maybe she’s a cook? I thought of the many possibilities and returned to my hiding spot. Melissa should be looking for me by now. “Five…four…” I heard her count. Five?? She was at ‘six’ when I left! I was gone for a long time! This was very confusing; first, the lady disappeared and now, it’s like I never left. Feeling the weight of the key in my pocket, I forgot about the third confusing matter. How could an old, rusty key glisten brightly when it was hidden in the shrubs?
“Rosy, should we look at the family album later?” asked Daddy during dinner. My cheeks were bulged and I couldn’t speak. Dana, our cook, had prepared my favourite mashed potatoes and and pumpkin pie. I was eating as much as I can, for I was tired after the long game we played. Poor Melissa looked absolutely tired, she could almost fall asleep on her plate. I nodded furiously and grinned at Daddy, excited to see how our ancestors have looked like. We ate more, told our parents about our game that evening and washed the dinner down with a scoop of rich chocolate ice-cream. I had forgotten all about the lady.
Daddy and I went to the library, while Mommy brought Melissa to bed. I toyed with the key in my pocket and waited for Daddy to sit on the big chair with the album in his hand. We decided to continue from where we had left off, great-grandfather Eli. We had a portrait of him in the library. He had built this mansion we live in by himself. Daddy remembered him as a stern and secretive man with a ‘wicked’ sense of humour. He looked very handsome on the photograph and I wondered if I would be embarrassed to speak to him had I known him back then.
We looked at 4 more pages filled with pictures and wonderful stories before calling it a night. When I began to yawn many times, daddy said we’d stop there and continue tomorrow. He stood up to put the album away but it slipped out of his hand and fell on the ground. A single photograph slid across the wooden floor and went under the armchair I was still sitting on. I reached my arm under the seat and felt the photograph. It was of a woman in an apron, smiling at the photographer and she held a small box in her arms. Her eyes were shining brightly and she had perfect set of teeth. Her soft, black hair was tied in loose ponytail, allowing a few strands to escape and fall around her face. She was very beautiful. That was when I realised it was the woman I met earlier today. Suddenly, the room went black and I felt my body slumping on the ground.
I came to eventually to see my parents’ worried faces peering over me. “Wha-what happened?” I asked. “You fainted, love. Are you alright?” said Mommy, lovingly caressing my head. Daddy handed me the now crumpled photograph and watched my reaction. I must have clutched it too hard before passing out. “I saw her, today. In the garden,” I muttered quietly, unsure to whom I was actually speaking. “This woman? That’s impossible, Rosy! She’s dead for many years now,”said Daddy. He sounded confused but I didn’t look at him. “Hush, James. Let her finish. Where did you see her, Rosy?”asked Mommy. “In the garden, where I was hiding. The key! She said then key was the lock to her heart. But was does this key unlock?” I asked out loud. “What key?” asked Daddy, perplexed. I reached for the key in my pocket and gave it to him. I was deep in thoughts and while my parents checked the old key, the library felt unnaturally cold. I was being watched.
“My heart… I need to see my heart…” said a familiar voice. The woman was here! She entered the library and walked-no,glided- across the room towards the portrait of Great-grandpa Eli. She had really sad eyes but her lovely smile made me feel safe. She wasn’t going to harm me, she only seeks my help. I watched her walk directly through his portrait and I got my answer then. “There! Behind the portrait!” my shouts shocked my parents. We huddled in front of the portrait and Daddy began knocking lightly to find hollow parts. Could there be a hidden compartment no one knew about? My heart… I need to see my heart… “Daddy, could you check somewhere around his heart, please?” It was worth a try. Great-grandpa Eli was wearing a black coat in this portrait and any keyhole would be hard to find.
“I see a small hole, but the key wouldn’t fit,” he said. Mommy grabbed a letter opener from daddy’s table and passed it to him, saying, “Scrape around it.” They exchanged glances. It was an important portrait of the founder of the family and this mansion. Mommy’s light but confident nod was enough for Daddy to carry out the task. He scraped out dried paint which was intentionally placed there to cover up the keyhole. It was now visible to us and I handed him the key. A very small door opened where Great-grandpa Eli’s heart was. Daddy pulled out an old box, the same one on the photograph. He set it on the table and opened the lid to reveal its contents. There was a lock of hair and a neatly folded letter. Mommy took it and read it out loud.
Eli, my love,
When you read this letter, I might have arrived safely across the border. Know that from the moment my feet carried me away, you were always on my mind. Your gentle words and your warm smile will give me the courage I need to leave the memories of us behind.
I remember the first night we held each other. You looked so beautiful under the moonlight. I ran my fingers through your hair and traced your face lightly, soaking in the wonderful sight of the love of my life. Then.. I cried. I knew, the trouble I was getting myself into when I let myself fall in love with you. We can never be together.
I knew you would easily give away the life and wealth you have to be with me. I would hold you in my arms when you leave the your inheritance for a mere cook like me. I would have stood by your side even if we had nothing. But, Eli, my love, life is not easy. The obstacles we have will never be solved with wealth. No one would accept the union of a rich white man and his black cook.
I left because I know you would insist we could make this work. Passionate words would drip out of those soft lips and your eyes would shine so very brightly. I would definitely give in and believe blindly that it was possible. As a woman in this society, I am expected to be silent and not voice my opinion. As a black woman, I have absolutely no rights or privileges. People would talk and you could easily tell me it doesn’t matter. It does matter, Eli. You have no idea how sharp words can be until they stab you. I can’t choose to be happy knowing you could get hurt.
I hope you find a good woman who keeps you happy and loves you every single day. I hope you love her equally, if not more. How I wish it could be me serving you coffee in the mornings and drowning in your kisses every night. Be happy, my love. Maybe, when the world is kinder, we will meet again in another time and another place. My love for you will never cease. Speak to the moon when you miss me, she listens.
I have left a lock of my hair because it is your most favourite feature on me, knowing I hate my curls. I don’t know if I would end up as a memory in your life, a short chapter of your book. Women of my colour have suffered and I consider myself privileged to have met, had and felt you. You give me hope that there will be sunshine after the storm. It is a wishful thinking, but I hope I will always be in your heart. You will always be in mine, there is simply no place for others.
Goodbye, my love,
Mommy was crying silently and Daddy looked sad. I looked at the photograph of the woman who gave up love for love. Decades later, and her determination and love could still be felt in that room. I turned it around and saw a scribbling. “Violet, the one and only in my heart. Forever yours, Eli,” I read it out loud.
Thank you for reading 🙂
The message I wish to part here is that love should be accepted no matter shape, size, colour or gender. Racism was at its peak decades ago simply because dark colours were associated with darkness, evil and dirt. It is getting better now, because the love of those before lives on and plays its part silently.
Those who oppress and suppress the love of others are themselves victims. I root for love regardless of gender, colour, nationality, etc. Let us look at each other’s hearts.
ema 🙂 xo