Found: Key — Part II Flash Fiction Friday Post
Posted on August 5, 2016
You can see Part 1 here.
Ying Lee finished her report and with it, submitted the contract to her boss.
Felicity Morgan smiled as she flipped through the documents “This is fantastic, Ying. We’ve been trying to land this client for years. Congratulations.”
“Thank you, Felicity. I’ve been following the advice you gave me in the mentoring sessions. It was extremely effective.”
Her boss nodded. “I think the partners will be favorably impressed. You’re still interested in the partnership?”
“I am.” Ying could hardly contain her excitement. Finally! “I think I’m ready to take on the additional responsibility.”
“I think so, too. Let me talk to the other partners at your next meeting. I think it’s time.”
Both women rose and shook hands. “I appreciate the support, Felicity. Thank you.”
At home that evening, Ying poured herself a celebratory glass of Merlot. Barefoot, with glass in hand, she retrieved the key from her purse and took it into the kitchen. Unwrapping the tissue, she put the key on her counter. All of the elaborate designs were filled with dirt. She thought about Eleanor’s idea that rubbing the key might activate its powers. She was reluctant to do that but it bothered her to see such a beautiful object, a work of art, really, so grimy. Pulling a glass mixing bowl from the cabinet she filled it with hot water and a squirt of dish soap then put the key into the bowl. “Where have you been the last hundred years, key?”
Ying sipped her wine as she stared into the bowl. She sighed and left the kitchen. There were still reports to read before bed. She’d think about the key in the morning.
She’d set her clock for half an hour earlier than usual. In the kitchen, over her coffee, soft boiled egg and mixed fresh fruit, Ying drained the water from the bowl. A good deal of sand washed into the sink. She hoped it wouldn’t clog the drain. The key, now on a kitchen towel, cleaner, still had a great deal of grime embedded in the scrollwork. Ying sighed. Should she take the chance to clean the grime out with a wooden toothpick? Leaving the dirt in there just highlighted the intricate design. She should just leave it.
Instead, she found herself bent over the counter, gently digging the dirt away from the key. When she finished it was half an hour past time she usually left the apartment. Her stomach churned as she dressed and dropped the key in her suit jacket pocket before running out of the door. Crap. I just talked to Felicity about being able to handle more responsibility and here I am, late for work.
She tried to hail a cab. No luck. Traffic was even worse than usual. Instead she hurried along the sidewalk. Dashing between people, she was focused on getting to work. It seemed as though everyone in the city was on the sidewalk. By the time she arrived in her office, her feet were killing her and she was sweaty from the struggle to arrive.
The staff was in the conference room. Oh my God. I’ve missed a meeting! She searched her mind in a panic. She didn’t remember any meeting. Briefcase still in hand she stopped in the conference room door. Everyone was focused on the television mounted at the rear of the room. Crowds of people filled the screen. Most of them covered in soot and blood. Crying, calling for help. “What’s happening?”
“Oh my God, Ying!” The associates secretary, Mandy, leapt from her seat at the table and ran to the door. “We were so worried.” She gave Ying a hug. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. What’s happening?”
“Don’t you know? A terrorist attack on the subway. It’s your line. We thought you were in there.”
The entire room was up and surrounding her. Everyone asking questions at once. “No. No. My alarm didn’t go off. I overslept. I walked to work.”
Felicity came into the room. “Ying. We were worried. Are you all right?”
Ying was blinking with confusion. “Yes. Yes, I’m fine. What’s this about terrorists?”
“Hell of a thing. Bombed the subway. So many people hurt and dead.”
“I’ll get you a cup of tea.” Mandy hurried off.
“Yes. Come to your office. Rest.” Felicity threaded her arm through Ying’s and led her to her cubicle. “We were worried. I’m so glad you’re safe.”
“Thank you.” At her desk she put her briefcase against the cubicle wall and sat down. Her hand crept to her jacket pocket. She could feel the key through the cloth. “I can’t believe it.”
“Yes. Well. I suppose this is the sign of our times. Isn’t it.” Felicity made herself at home in the guest chair beside the desk. “Are you sure you’re all right? You look a little stressed.”
Ying nodded. “I suppose I am. I usually ride that subway. I just. I just was walking. Today.”
“A good thing.” Felicity patted Ying’s hand. “We wouldn’t want to lose our newest partner so soon.”
It took Ying a moment to change her mind from worrying about being late, then terrorists to the implied information her boss just told her.
“Yes, dear. Partner. We were going to announce it more formally but with the attack, it seems inappropriate. We’ll announce it later in the week.”
Ying nodded. “Of course. Totally inappropriate.” She managed a smile. “Still. Thank you and the partners. I’ll keep it to myself, of course.”
Felicity nodded. “Good girl. I knew you’d understand.” She rose just as Mandy came around the corner with a cup in hand. “We’ll expect your analysis of those reports by the end of the day.”
“Of course.” Ying nodded.
Mandy put the mug on Ying’s desk. “Gosh. They don’t let up do they. You let me know what you need. I’ll be right at my desk.”
“Sure. Thanks, Mandy.”
Ying fingered the key through her pocket. Was it the key or just stupid luck?
Part II: 1000 Words