The Doorknob

We walked down the hall to my apartment door. There was an unspoken anxiety in the air and I was hyper-conscious of every move I made. I slipped my key into my apartment’s doorknob, wiggling it a couple of times before getting the key to turn. The lock to my apartment door resists the key slightly more than most locks do.

I understood that circumstances were about to change.

We stepped inside and sat down.

I looked at the keyring, still in my hand. Four keys: the building key, my apartment key, the deadbolt key, my mailbox key. The jagged edges of three of the keys were aligned – they faced the same direction. The dead-bolt key, which I rarely used, was the exception – the cut edge was lined up with the other keys’ uncut flat edges.

I quickly twisted the door key and the dead-bolt key off the ring, turned them over, and slid them back into place, their positions reversed.

I wanted to remember that moment – when I wasn’t completely sure how things would be changing. I expected that the next several times I came home, I would try to unlock my doorknob with the dead-bolt key, before remembering I’d switched the keys around. Then, as I chose the correct key and slid it into place, maybe I’d think of this important moment and any wisdom I was going to gain from the ensuing conversation would surface.

I set the keyring down on the coffee table and listened to what had to be said.

In the weeks that followed I was never phased by my attempt at keyring-sabotage and almost forgot the frustrating moment of (perhaps self-imposed) ignorance that it was supposed to remind me of.

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