They’d been at the beach with her sister Michelle and Michelle’s two children Kaylee and Lulu. Michelle was perfect and Kaylee and Lulu, twin six-year-olds with tight braids and perpetually clean shoes were also perfect. Sloane was a sticky mess with her runny nose (teething) and mussed hair. Gus had peanut butter smeared into his hair and she could see she’d missed a spot on his shoulder when she’d been applying sunscreen.
Catherine sighed once she got everyone buckled, including herself, and she started the car. She turned on the mind numbing music her children never tired of, Raffi, then turned up the volume. She didn’t want to hear them whine or squabble.
Catherine tried to decide what to make for dinner.
Once she stopped the car in their driveway, Catherine noticed that Gus and Sloane were both asleep. Her heart swelled with affection for them. They were disheveled and sure to be cranky as soon as they were awakened, but she loved them.
Gus woke up fairly easily and staggered into the house, clutching the shells he’d brought back from the beach. Sloane cried but once inside, she also cheered up enough that Catherine was able to unload the car. She gathered towels and the beach blanket and the sandy damp swimsuits and took them all to the laundry room. She threw them in the washing machine and saw there was room for a little more. She picked up a pair of her husband Zach’s jeans from the bottom of the hamper and threw them in too. She heard a small clang when they went in. Curious, she pulled them back out and shifted things around until she saw a little brass key. She wondered what it was the key to.
She shrugged and placed it in the small tray she kept on top of the washing machine. That was where she always put loose change or buttons, anything that was stray in the laundry room.
Catherine was standing in front of the fridge, contemplating two soft looking pieces of celery, half an onion and three apples. There was a container of sour cream and a half full container of cottage cheese that she didn’t want to open because it was probably moldy.
Besides that there was milk and ketchup.
Dinner wasn’t looking too promising.
She got a text from Zach. He was going to be late. Go ahead and eat, he’d texted.
Catherine pulled a box of macaroni and cheese out of the cupboard.
She got another text. This one was from Michelle. Did you lose a key at the beach? Found one in our bag.
Catherine texted back No, don’t think so. But then there was a knock on the door and Michelle walked in followed closely by James. They were dressed up like they were going out. Michelle’s hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail and she was wearing white capris and a striped shirt that perfectly accentuated her tan. Catherine was still wearing her swimsuit underneath her sundress and her hair was a mess. Where Michelle tanned, Catherine either burned or was freckled.
“We’re going to dinner and then we’re going to go see that movie, what movie James?”
James shrugged good-humoredly.
“I guess we’ll remember when we get to the theater,” Michelle said with a laugh. “Now are you sure this isn’t your key? It drives me crazy to lose things.”
“But you never lose things,” Catherine said.
“I know,” Michelle said, dangling the key in front of Catherine.
That was weird, Catherine thought, it looked exactly like the other key she’d found in the laundry.
“Maybe it is mine,” Catherine said, taking the key.
“Get a key ring.” Michelle advised. She kissed Catherine’s cheek and left the scent of her expensive perfume in her wake. “Thanks for today!” Michelle said as she was leaving, “It was fun.”
“Yeah,” Catherine said. She walked into the laundry room and picked up the other key. They were identical. Catherine hunted in the kitchen junk drawer for a key ring but didn’t find anything. She did find a shoelace. She looped it through the keys, tied a knot and hung them on a hook. She’d ask Zach about the keys later.
She forgot to ask Zach about the keys though. By the time he got home, the kitchen was cleaned up and dark, the children were asleep and she was relaxing with a book.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, bending down to kiss her.
The next morning Catherine took the kids to the library for story time. She grabbed the canvas bag she kept just for library books (Michelle’s idea) on the way out the door. She was pulling out the books they were returning and she heard a little clunk inside the bag, peering inside, she saw another key, exactly like the other two.
Check back tomorrow to learn more about the keys!