Found in a kitchen catch all drawer after the estate sale:

One 3/8 in. hex key, bent a little out of shape, nearly stripped (They always said they're never buying from IKEA again. It was always a lie.)

A broken piano key, the ivory yellowed and delaminated (A beautiful instrument, insufficiently loved.)

A stack of seven index cards, the answer key to a standardised oral German exam (Nothing to be proud of, but he refused to retake that class. She can't blame him; the professor was a dreadful old codger with more tenure than patience.)

An iron skeleton key, the teeth half snapped off (They had to pick the lock on the attic. It was full of ventriloquist dummies, porcelain dolls, and taxidermied ducks situated to face the door. She always did have a peculiar sense of humour.)

A backspace key missing its retainer bracket (She must have replaced that for him a dozen times, over the years.)

One locker combination jotted on a scrap of newsprint, a finished crossword puzzle on the other side (Finished, yes, but not correctly.)

A music box winding key (Heaven only knows where its music box wound up.)

A page from an atlas of Florida's islands, torn out and used as scratch paper, its legend faded (They never went back after Lake Okeechobee swallowed the timeshare whole, and the RV with it, but they always made plans.)

A handful of seeds collected from ash trees in the yard, hopeful of future planting, despite the beetles (A lost cause, but they still spiral beautifully as they fall, one by one, into the waiting garbage bag.)

Iron Noder 2020, 13/30

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