40: The Unforgotten Keys

40: The Unforgotten Keys

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

The Unforgotten Keys

Everyone entrusted with a mission is an angel.

~Moses Maimonides

I love going to garage sales, and on a recent Saturday morning I came upon a massive one right on the main street of my hometown. It was early, but the vast array of toys, clothing, furniture and assorted housewares on the front lawn had already drawn a small crowd. One woman was picking through a box of coffee mugs; another perused a row of neatly folded blouses laid out on a blue tarp. Nearby, a little boy played with a huge plush rabbit as his father eyed a pair of tennis rackets. I parked my car and waited for a break in the traffic to safely get out, and then began climbing the home’s long, steep driveway in hopes of finding a few gems of my own.

I had gotten a little more than halfway up when a sudden, overwhelming feeling came over me, telling me to head back to my vehicle. The word “keys” flashed into my mind, and I thought perhaps in my haste to get to the bargains, I had left my keys in the ignition. Instinctively, I patted my jeans’ front pocket, but the familiar bulge of jingling metal wasn’t there. The word “KEYS!” resounded again in my head — this time louder and more insistent — so I stopped and turned around, fishing through my purse as I shuffled back down the driveway.

Traffic was steadily whizzing by when I reached the edge of the busy road, forcing me to pause once again at the curb. Just as I thought it was safe to dash around to the driver’s door, my right hand (which was still making swirling loops in my bag) snagged something that could only be one thing — my keys! Sure enough, I pulled them out and examined the key ring as if it was some odd, unexpected curiosity, wondering what had brought on that weird and misguided bout of key-panic.

I was about to begin my second trek up the driveway when the little boy who had been admiring the stuffed rabbit came barreling toward me. His father was still on the lawn facing away from us, waiting to pay for his yard-sale purchases. The child wasn’t watching where he was going and was focused instead on something in his hands. Whatever it was had him totally captivated; he kept alternately bringing it to his mouth and then pulling it away so he could peek at it, giggling. The little guy was picking up speed as he scurried down the sharp incline, headed directly into the street.

I stepped into his path, blocking his descent just as he reached the end of the drive. Startled, he stopped abruptly and looked up at me, his hands clasped tight around his treasure.

I felt the rush of air sweep against my back as a big delivery truck rumbled by, passing over the exact spot where the toddler would have been at that moment if his mad dash had not been interrupted.

“Jacob!” his father shouted just then, now also descending the driveway. He was holding the tennis rackets in one hand and waving with the other. “Wait up, buddy!”

The child turned around and spotted his dad, then smiled and ran into his arms. The man scooped up his son and carried him off. As they passed me on the driveway, the little boy held out his right hand, revealing what had so mesmerized him that he almost ran out into the bustling street.

It was a set of toy keys.

~Miriam Van Scott

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