The Key

This was our second tutorial.  We were asked to write a short story of between 500 and 750 words containing three characters and using two time frames.

To make things doubly fun(!) we were required to open the piece with the line ‘Did you see that?’ and pick one of the following as title and stimuli: The Cup, The Key or The Door!

I must admit I seriously struggled with this exercise and actually contemplated chickening out.  Being a chicken, though, is not my style!  After brainstorming ideas about cups, doors and keys for several days, I finally came up with this.  It is far from the best piece I have ever written, but I at least feel much better about myself for having had a go.


‘Did you see that?’

‘What’s that, Sean?’  I was playing for time, having just spotted what he had, winking by the gearbox in the tapering afternoon light .  Oh bugger.

‘Think someone’s dropped something here.’  Sean carefully picked up the tiny silver key and twizzled it between two fingers.  ‘Chloe’s got one like this on her charm bracelet.’  He smiled involuntarily soppily, the way he did at any mention of his new wife.

‘Oh that,’ I said inanely, flicking my eyes from the road for a split-second.

‘Didn’t think jewellery was your thing, Daz.  Bet I can guess what’s going on here.’

‘What, mate?’  I was actually holding my breath.  When I changed gear I left telltale clammy handprints on the steering wheel, which I swiftly covered.


Lucid scenes from last night zipped through my mind.  Chloe and me on the levered-back passenger seat.  She was on top of me; collectively we were on top of Barr Beacon, a hilly beauty spot always dotted with cars that have similarly steamed-up windows and sticky-bodied occupants.  The silver charm bracelet she always wore jangled throughout, in synch with her every bounce.

Chlo is a truly filthy cow, still my favourite, despite all the competition she’s had.  I had to admit I was stunned when my shy friend introduced her as his new girlfriend two years ago.  Seanie was flattered by her affection, and rapidly proposed.  He is her Mr Reliable, she told me the first time we were together, shortly after their engagement announcement, but she has needs he hasn’t it in him to satisfy.  I am hardly in a position to moralise.

 ‘I thought you were going to give me up once you and Seanie-babes were married,’ I panted, after we’d done the business.

‘You’re my addiction, Darryl.’  She looked bloody magnificent in the winter starlight, with those astonishing breasts half in, half out, and her platinum curls naughtily tousled.  ‘I lasted four months of monotonous monogamy with him.’

‘Must be a record for you.’

‘You can talk.’

‘The way I see it, darling,’ I grinned, ‘I have a special skill.  I, like you, am an absolute belter when it comes to the old horizontal poker game.  And I just consider it my duty to share this skill with as many members of the human race as possible.  We’re both providing a service really.’

She took my cigarette packet from the dashboard and pretended to slap me with it as we chuckled.  ‘How many women has it been this year?’


‘I’m sooo jealous,’ she mock simpered, popping a ciggie into my mouth and lighting one for herself.  Sean was unaware of that addiction too, so she always brought mints to our trysts.  She swivelled the fogged window down a small way.  We both shivered and pulled our errant clothes up around us.

‘Sean’s a lucky bastard, though, if he gets this every night.’

‘If only he wanted it every night.’  She expelled a furious spout of smoke.  ‘That’s the trouble.’

‘He still thinks you go to aerobics on a Thursday?’

‘Yup,’ she smirked, ‘so I’ve got an alibi when I go home all sweaty.’


The key charm must have broken off her bracelet without us noticing.  We usually try to be more careful.  Then again, I had no idea Sean’s car was going to break down and I’d be fetching him from the garage today.  He actually told me I was ‘a top mate for doing this.’

‘It’s a present for someone, isn’t it?’ he said now, squinting at the miniature key like the detective who has finally cracked the case.

I almost guffawed with relief.  Why had I even worried?  ‘Got it in one.  This is Chlo’s actually.  She lent it me because I want to get something similar for my mum.  I thought rather than try to remember and describe it in H Samuel, it would easier to take it along.  As you say, I must have dropped it.  You can give it her back now, if you like.’

‘Cheers Daz, I will.  I’m sure your mum’ll love it.’  He smiled and consigned the key to his pocket.  His little face was as trusting as a baby’s.  ‘Chlo’s so sweet, helping you out like that.’

My eyes in the rear-view mirror betrayed the briefest mirth.  Good old Seanie.  Only he would be duped by an excuse like that.