The Key of Youth
Finding The KeyI walked in the front door of my house and went to the kitchen and grabbed one of my mother’s home made chocolate chip cookies and started eating. I was about to go to my room when I remembered I had some homework today from school and should go do it.
I decided I would go to my favorite place so I could concentrate. I walked out the back door of my house which was right on the edge of the woods and walked for about a mile to my spot. It was a gorgeous spot, near the river, the trees were full of moss and stood tall and brave. They always felt like protection to me, after growing up here. My spot was on a giant hollow log lying on the forest floor, it was the perfect seat and I came here so often I could find my way back home with my eyes closed.
I sat down and started doing my homework. My parents wouldn't be home for another few hours and my older sister, Elise was at her friend’s house until tomorrow so I could stay here as long as I wanted.
I loved coming out here and enjoying the beautiful forest. My best friend and I always played in the woods when we were little. We would camp out here at night and play games and tell scary stories. Ever since then I have loved coming in the woods, it always brings back memories. We still come out here and hang out all the time and especially for camping. We used to get lost sometimes, because we always got curious what was out there so we would go as far as we could. But our parents taught us how to find our way back, so we only had the police searching for us once.
For my homework I had a couple worksheets from English about nouns and verbs and adjectives and things like that. They were very easy. Then I had a page of math with about 20 problems which were just as easy but took lots of time to get through. I was a freshman in high school and was not finding the amounts of homework to be easy. Elementary was such a piece of cake I now realized.
Once I finished my homework I guessed I had been out for maybe an hour and decided I better head back home. On my way back I looked at the sky and predicted it would rain soon. The air was starting to feel very chilly and the wind had kicked in a bit more.
A few minutes of walking I saw something move out of the corner of my eye and whipped my head to the side to look. I didn't see anything when I looked over. “It was probably a deer,” I thought to myself and shook the thought off. But then something sparkled on the ground a few yards away and I walked over to see what it was.
Lying in the dirt was a key. This was no ordinary house key. In fact it was a beautiful key, probably the prettiest I had ever seen. It was gold and had all sorts of gems on it and had beautiful designs and in the middle was something I couldn't see. I picked it up, surprised at how clean it was. It couldn't have been on the ground for more than a few days or it would be muddy from the rain.
I looked at the design in the middle and saw a picture of 2 children running and smiling. It was very small and hard to see. It was the strangest key I had ever seen, I definitely had to keep it. I slipped it in the pockets of my pants and headed home.
The next day at school I took the key with me to show my best friend Kate. We were on the bus to go home when I pulled it out of my bag and showed the key to her. She held her hand out and I dropped it in her hand. She looked at it closely with a puzzled expression. She handed it back to me and said, “That’s an interesting key. I wonder if it used to be on some girl’s necklace or something. Where did you find it again?”
“Not very far from my house. I was on my way back home from the spot by the river and I saw this sparkle on the ground,” I said to Kate. Then I remembered the figure I had seen move out of the corner of my eye and wondered if it really was a deer. The key had to come from somebody, which means somebody was in the woods behind my house. Maybe I did see a person. I wonder who it was. People walked out in the woods from time to time, Kate and I were not the only teenagers who hung out in the woods. But I still wondered.
As we turned down the road the houses started getting bigger as we neared closer to my neighborhood. When the bus stopped and I climbed out I said my goodbyes to Kate as she headed the opposite way to her house.
When I was only about 5 houses away from my own house I saw something move in somebody’s backyard and looked to the side. In the forest I saw a woman probably in her 50’s. She was stunning for her age and had beautiful dark brown hair down to about the middle of her back and even from here I could tell her eyes were as dark as night. She had a very unfriendly look to her and I immediately wanted to stay away from her with the way she glared. I knew for a fact that she did not live at the house she was standing behind. I had never seen this woman before.
A few hours after I got home I was fixing dinner, because it was my turn for the week and I was wearing my new key around my neck on a thin gold chain. I was going to set it down somewhere in my room to keep it but I felt odd parting with it so I decided I would wear it instead.
After dinner was done I called everyone to the kitchen to get themselves some pasta. Elise, my 16 year old sister walked in blabbering on her cell phone. She couldn't be apart from her friends for any amount of time and it was annoying. When she wasn't with them she was yapping on her phone or texting them. She never did anything with me anymore. My dad told her she better turn off her dang phone or he was going chuck it in the trash. That got her attention and she said into her phone, “I have to go, Jared.” And she shoved her phone in her pocket.
“You sure talk to him an awful lot for not liking him,” I said to her with a smug look on my face, remembering our conversation about him a few days ago.
“I never said I don’t like him but I don’t like him like that,” Elise replied, giving me a look to shut up.
“Well,” Dad said, “if Vivian thinks you like a boy I think I have reason to be concerned.” Elise glared at me with a look that said, “now look what you have done.” I smiled back innocently.
“Dad,” Elise argued, “I don’t like anybody and even if I did it’s not your business or Mom’s or Vivian’s business. So please lay off and don’t embarrass me like you did with Jack.”
“I didn't like the way that Jack boy looked at you, and I still don’t like him,” Dad said, looking slightly disgusted.
“Dad. He was gay,” Elise said smugly.
I snickered quietly. Mom, who had been conveniently quiet this whole conversation laughed loudly then covered her mouth. Dad gave us a look and we both silenced, trying not to smile.
After we finished with dinner Mom and Dad left to go to their friends’ house for an adult night out and Elise and I were left alone in the house. Elise was going to take off and do something with her friends but I pointed out that our parents wouldn't be very happy with that considering she just spent 3 days at her friend’s house.
“I don’t care. I am old enough to decide when I can be in or out of the house,” Elise said with an attitude.
“You go ahead and tell yourself that. You’re only a junior in high school. They would whoop your butt and you know it.” I didn't admit that I just wanted her to hang out with me instead of her friends for a change. I didn't want to be the whiny little sister begging for attention.
Elise sighed, “I guess I have stuff to do here tomorrow, anyway. I might as well stay home.”
I had a little moment of silent victory and said, “Well then how about we do something tonight, we haven’t done anything together in a while.”
“OK. But I’m a bit tired so let’s just go down to the theater room and watch some movies. I’ll meet you down there, I’m gonna go get some blankets and my pillow.”
We both went to our rooms and grabbed some of our pillows and blankets and then we tried to choose a movie to start with down in our theater room. It was a fancy room with a projector on one wall and raised floors on the other side with the comfiest of couches and chairs. The walls were a dark brown as was the soft fluffy carpet covering the floors. There were lights along the walls just like in a real theater that could be dim or bright. There were even lights on the edges of the raised platforms so you wouldn't trip over them in the dark.
I called dibs on my favorite chair in the middle of the back row, it was huge and comfy and had a foot rest which popped out. Elise dumped all of her things on the couch next to it and went to pick a movie. I decided some popcorn would be nice so I went over to our little snack bar and got the popcorn machine started. I also grabbed some chocolate covered pretzels.
A few minutes later we were both in our seats, in our cozy pajamas with our snacks, ready to watch some old classic Disney movies. We started with Beauty and the Beast. But we didn't watch much instead we stayed up and talked. She talked about her time at her friend’s house and after I pushed enough I finally got her to admit her little crush on Jared. Then she asked me if I had anyone special and I laughed, “No! To be honest I really don’t like anybody and I haven’t since that Shawn guy last year. Once I found out what a pervert he was I kind of decided to swear off guys for a bit.”
“Oh come on,” Elise said. “They are not all like that! Jared isn't.” When she said his name she couldn't even keep the smile off her face. She had it bad. I was glad that we were talking like this again. We hadn't done this since last year probably. I felt so happy being able to have fun with my sister again. Since summer started she was gone all the time on road trips or whatever with her friends that I honestly didn't like very much. She had finally gotten her drivers’ license last summer which I had thought would mean she would be able to take me places so I wouldn't have to have my parents go with me everywhere and so we could go places together without our parents. But instead she started visiting her friends more.
After watching Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella (even though we hardly watched them at all) it was about 1 in the morning and we had turned off the TV and Elise was sound asleep but I was up thinking still. I was thinking about my key that I reluctantly left upstairs in my bedroom, hidden in one of my dresser drawers. I wanted to go get it but I didn't know why it was so important to me. It was just a stupid key I found in the forest. It’s not like it would actually unlock a treasure or anything. That would be cool though, to find a map that led to a treasure somewhere in the woods that my new key would unlock. That would be so fun!
I finally started to drift off when I heard light footsteps on the main floor above us and I was going to ignore it, thinking it was just my parents returning home, although very late. The footsteps walked up the stairs to the 3rd floor and it became much more difficult to hear them anymore. Then I heard the noisy, undeniable sound of my closet doors opening in my bedroom. “What are they doing snooping in my room?” I asked myself out loud.
I decided I would sneak up the stairs and watch them to see if I could find out what they were doing in my room before I confronted them. As I reached the top of the stairs I was on tiptoes and walking silently against the wall where the floor was less likely to creak. I slowly, cautiously peaked my head around the wall into my room and almost gasped when I didn't see my father or mother but instead long dark brown hair falling down a woman’s back, which was turned to me. She turned slightly to the side and I recognized her. It was the woman I had seen in the woods earlier. She was now rummaging through my dresser, trying hard to stay quiet and keep things the way they were. I pulled my head quickly back so she wouldn't see me and my heart started pounding in my chest so hard I swear she could hear it. I snuck back down the stairs quickly. Once I was at the bottom I ran to the theater room to alert Elise.
Somebody was in my house. It was only a middle aged woman but I didn't get a friendly vibe from her earlier and friendly or not she was in my house when the doors had been carefully locked along with the windows. She was snooping in my bedroom, and had somehow snuck into my house to do it. That is not my opinion of friendly.
I had gotten to the theater room and was about to wake Elise when I heard the footsteps again on the main floor. They were heading towards the back door. I never heard the door close so I ran as quietly as I could to the kitchen. The back door was closed so I walked closer to the glass doors and peaked through the blinds and saw a dark figure moving through the cold night air. It was raining the softest of showers on the woman’s head as she ran off deeper in the woods, until eventually she was out of sight.
I ran upstairs to my room and went to the dresser first since that was what I had seen her digging through earlier. I searched my drawers and didn't notice anything missing until I looked in the drawer I had specifically put my key in and found it missing.