I found a set of keys while I was walking today. The tip of one was sticking up on the edge of a trail, so I poked at it with my foot. They aren't car keys or house keys. They're old and rusty and belong to something else.
Walking home, I wondered if they were meant to open something that’s no longer nearby or if it's still here, in my neighborhood -- maybe hidden in the far corner of someone's crawl space under their house, or above a warped ceiling tile in someone's basement, or better yet, buried thirty paces from someone’s back door under a menacing gargoyle that watches over their garden.
Then I started wondering what might be inside whatever these keys opened? A box of letters from someone’s lover? A long lost will that could tear a family apart? A map to a hidden grave? (Maybe Jimmy Hoffa’s! Wouldn’t Canada have been a good place to hide his body?) Or was it something even more enigmatic, like a wedding veil, five seashells, and a brass whistle?
I’ll never know what they open or who they belong to, but they’ve already unleashed a barrage of creative ideas in my mind and I’ve only had them one day. Maybe a future novel will be built around these keys. Or maybe they'll be the source of a chapter in my current novel. I’m not sure, but for now I've tucked them away in my mini-aluminum garbage can labeled STORY IDEAS even though it's already crammed full with paper and pictures and nick knacks that probably wouldn't make sense to anyone else (unless you're a writer!)