I was 15 when Gran called me to her room. She didn’t leave it much anymore. She’d walked with a cane for my entire life, and as she got older her leg hurt her more and more and she walked less and less. She was propped up in her favorite chair by the fire, with a pot of tea and a book untouched on the table next to her. She beckoned for me to sit beside her on the floor, and when I was settled, she leaned forward and clasped her necklace around my neck. I’d always admired it, for as long as I remember. A long key was wrapped in silver wire and all done up in garnets, and it hung from a fine silver chain. Once as a child I’d reached for it, and she’d slapped my hand. Gran never had to raise a hand to anyone, as she could strip the hide from you with a look and make you wish you were 2 years dead in your grave if you earned the rough side of her tongue, so the slap had made a lifelong impression amongst myself and all my young kin.
“It’s time I passed this on, and you’re the only one worthy of passing it to, sad to say. Not that you’re a bad girl at all. Quite the contrary,” she added when she saw what effect her words had. “You’re the best and brightest lass I’ve seen in all my years, and I’m proud of ye, lass.” She sighed. “But it’s a terrible burden I’ve laid on you so young. I wasn’t but a few months older than you when it came to me.” She leaned forward again and touched the key. “That was the day I lost me own mum and gained this limp that’s plagued me ever since. Garnets are supposed to be for protection, and if you ever have to use this, you’ll need every ounce of it and more.”
“It doesn’t look very old,” I said, studying it. It was a simple iron key, with a number 12 stamped on one side. “It changes,” Gran told me. “It changes as the times change.”
“What’s it open, Gran?” I hardly dared to ask, but I’d been wanting to know ever since I first saw it.
“A door. A hidden door. You won’t find it if you go looking for it, but it’ll find you when you need it. Pray you never need it.”
“You opened it once, though, didn’t you Gran?”
“Me mum did, and I was with her. You know what was going on in those times. Terrible times.”
“What was there, when you opened the door?”
“It’s different every time, because the need is different. I won’t tell ye what we saw then, because it won’t make sense to ye, times being different now. Just know that if ye ever have the need the door will provide . Now go along with ye. Git!”
That was three years ago, and although I have prayed, I believe that I will someday soon find a door that needs to be opened, because the times are dark and becoming darker. And I worry, as unlike my great-grandmother, I do not have a daughter to stand with me to face whatever is behind the door and whatever has caused me to open it. My two older sisters have daughters, but they are but two and four years of age, and my brother has not yet married. My cousins are silly gits without a thought in their heads except that the next ball may not be canceled so they flirt and cavort and attempt to ensnare a husband before he is sent off to war. I do not know if I can pass on this trust to someone not of my blood, as Gran died two days after bequeathing the key to me and I had no chance to question her again. So I hope and pray that these troubles will pass before they demand a response from me.