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Lock and key

The filing cabinet was always locked.

Mark’s study was his sanctuary, as he called it. It was upstairs at the end of the hallway, well away from the rest of the family. He’d often retreat into the room, particularly after a hard day at work, locking the door behind him to play his old vinyl records for hours at a time. While the room was open when he wasn’t home, he made sure that the door was always shut. I didn’t venture in there.

I thought it was odd that he locked himself away, but I was prepared to overlook this, because he was a kind and gentle man who treated me and my children well. I figured that everybody needs their own space.

There was always a nagging curiosity as to what the cabinet contained, but I could never find the key. I really should trust him, but my instincts kept nagging at me, telling me something wasn’t quite right. The key to the cabinet was well hidden and I always wondered what he kept in there. I was transparent, I had no real secrets to keep. But there was alot I still didn’t know about him.

I’d never seen any old photographs or heard him reminisce about his childhood or early life. I wondered why he always deflected from the conversation every time it arose. He was very much a closed book, often retreating into himself and not engaging with me at all. It was as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He was heading out early in the morning, the trip into town was at least an hours commute. I’d come downstairs, careful not to wake the kids who were still fast asleep. Mark was in the kitchen, already dressed in his grey suit and blue tie looking quite dapper. The coffee was hot and the smell of raisin toast permeated through the house. He knew exactly how I liked my coffee and had one ready for me on the island bench.

“Busy day today?” I looked over at Mark as the coffee started to work its magic.

“Got a few big deals to close today. I’ve got a few other appointments too so I’m pretty flat out. I’ll be home pretty late and I might not be able to take many calls, but I’ll message you when I can”

He went upstairs to grab his laptop and satchel, swinging by the study down the hall and making sure the door was shut, like he did everyday. I heard the garage door close as he backed out of the drive and headed off to work. Finishing my coffee and at having at least an hour before the family woke up for school I had some time. I went back up the stairs and looked down the hallway at the closed door. My curiosity got the better of me as I made my way quietly down the hall.

It was an orderly room, a time capsule to the 60’s and 70’s. Mark had a penchant for mid century modern decor. A liquor cabinet, with bottles and glasses neatly organised adorned one of the walls. The black Eames Lounge Chair took pride of place in the corner of the room near the dormer window. The sound system and record collection took up an entire wall, while the filing cabinet was tucked behind the rosewood desk. I looked around on the shelves, but saw no sign of the key. I opened up the desk drawers, careful not to disturb anything inside but again, no sign of the key.

I didn’t have much time, walking over to the liquor cabinet, I slid open the cabinet doors. Shot glasses, delicate liquor glasses and whiskey tumblers stood neatly in rows. Inside one of the whiskey tumblers there was a small silver key with a tag. This was it! I thought it would be better hidden, but there it was.

I took them over and opened the drawers. I was underwhelmed with the contents. Work files and some personal papers were all that I found in the top drawer. As I looked further into the files, tucked right in the back, underneath a pile of loose papers, I stumbled onto a brown paper bag and several large envelopes full of newspaper clippings, letters and photographs.

Inside the bag, there were white pill bottles. Some were still full and others unopened. I had so many unanswered questions. I googled them and was taken aback at what they were prescribed for.

What was he working so hard to forget? 

© T. Zerafa 2023

Photo by Anton H on

This, like much of my prose is a piece of fiction.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my writing. If you haven’t read any of my other pieces, take a look through my blog. Please feel free to like, share, subscribe or comment below.


4 responses to “Lock and key”

  1. Enjoyed this story. ❤ But what is he trying to forget?


    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  2. Very engaging! I wanted so desperately to know what was in the cabinet and now I want to know what he’s trying to forget. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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