A Tale of Missing Keys
If there's one thing that has become a constant in our Belizean life, it's keys. We need three different keys for six locks just to get into our house. There's a key for the tool shop, a key for the mower shed, three keys for the downstairs apartment, keys for the outdoor guest bedrooms, a key for the storeroom, keys for school and a key for church. If someone needs to get into one of those buildings, they stop by my kitchen door, and I rifle through the labeled sets of keys hung on eight nails inside the cupboard door. If it's a key we rarely use, it might be in the bowl inside the cupboard.
All this key business has not gone unnoticed by our children. Paris especially went through a key-obsession stage. Anytime she found a set of keys unattended she stole it and stuffed it who knows where. Once we found my house keys in a doll purse, once in the seat of her riding buggy, once stashed inside the sewing machine cabinet. Losing my house keys was inconvenient, but not apocalyptic since we have three sets. However I was always uneasy when one went missing, because what would happen if the next one also disappeared? We couldn’t climb through our barred windows.
One morning I went out to feed the dogs, shop key in hand. Mission completed, I returned to the porch to hang up laundry, setting the key on the sink as I passed. If you are starting to wonder if I'm the real problem in this story, not Paris, you may be right, but let's not get off subject.
I completely forgot about the shop key until that evening when my husband needed to get into the shop. "Do you know where the shop key is? It's not hanging in the cupboard."
Unlike the house, we only had one shop key, the one I'd used that morning. I searched my brain and couldn't recall anything other than setting it on the sink. We called the children over and questioned them. The older ones seemed to know nothing. Asking a three-year-old about missing keys is a joke. Paris said she knew where they were, but when we eagerly followed her, it was a dead end.
"Well I can do without whatever's in the shop for a few days," Davy said, "except for the dog food. You'll have to go buy more tomorrow."
We continued to look for the shop key throughout the next couple days, checking all the normal hiding places, and all the places where I might have set it and forgot.
Several days into our search, Zoe burst into the house. "Mom, mom! Paris threw Dad's flashlight down the outhouse hole."
Oh great. The outhouse wasn't used regularly, but I didn't relish the idea of looking down in it. "I guess that's the end of the flashlight," I said, and went to instruct Paris on not throwing things down the outhouse hole.
Davy felt a little differently. He loves his flashlights and was not impressed with losing one, even to the outhouse.
He took another flashlight in to investigate. "Honey," he called a few minutes later, "wanna guess what else is down here?"
I gasped. "The key?"
"Yup. If I figure out a way to get them out, will you get the bleach water ready?"
And that is how my husband came to be heading into the outhouse with a headlamp and a fruit picker, and how I came to be gingerly pulling a flashlight and a key out of a bucket of bleach water some hours later. And yes, the flashlight still works.
Photo credit: Unsplash