The Key to Redemption

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By Brooke Anderson


One calm day, as the breeze gently scattered leaves every which way,the quiet serenity was interrupted by a frantic young man.The young man, while unscathed, wore blood-splattered clothes.He had tired, bloodshot eyes and fists covered in bruises.The man scurried down the street, pleading for help and asking, “why am I not liked?”His pleas were met with quiet confusion, which only stoked the fire.The man grew angry in his desperation.With white knuckles, he sat on the curb, shaking his head.A moment later, an older woman approached him.The two sat in silence for a moment, before the woman broke the silence,“Would you really like vindication?”“I don’t deserve all the hate I get. I haven’t done anything wrong,” he grumbled.The woman began walking, without a word.“Wait! Wait! Where are you going?” The man asked. “Are you going to help me?”The woman shuffled along towards an old building.Her desperate companion eventually stopped his questioning and looked around.The building stood proudly, presenting its grand doors and pillars as if they were as new as theyday they were built.Despite its chipped green paint and overgrown shrubbery, the house’s front steps still pointeddutifully towards two large, wooden doors.The woman walked inside, and the young man followed.She walked up to the entry table and opened a small mahogany box.Inside the box was a key.She handed it to the man and said, “With this key, you can unlock your redemption.”The man scoffed, “A key. Seriously?”“With this key, you can unlock your redemption,” she repeated, “with this, you can be forgiven.”“Forgiven for what? I haven’t even-” before the man could finish, the woman disappeared.Angry and confused, the man headed towards the exit. He paused in the doorway and lookedback at the key.Reluctant, but desperate, the man picked it up and began creeping around the house.He turned a corner and heard laughter flooding out of a room.Music blared, and the shadows of dancing feet whirled past the sliver of light spilling from thebottom of the door.
“This must be what she was talking about. Surely there will be people in there who will like me.”The man thought to himself.He quickly shoved the key into the hole to no avail. It didn’t fit.Confused, the man tried again. No luck.The man resigned and continued his search.Each door in the hallway was like the first, and each one was no fit for the key.The man’s frustration grew and grew until there was only one door left.This door was smaller than the rest. It had no signs of people or light, and no music playedbehind its hinges.Sighing, the man tried the key one last time.To his surprise, it worked.He turned the handle slowly and inched inside.The room was empty, except for a tall object covered by a sheet.The man walked towards it, and with shaking hands, removed the sheet.He gasped in horror, dropping the sheet in an instant.It was a mirror.For the first time in a long time, the man looked at himself.He saw his bruised knuckles, and his shirt stained by someone else’s blood.He drew closer, and saw his tired eyes and thinning hair.The man held his face, contorting it over and over again, but no matter how he put it, he did notlook like the man he once knew.Falling to his knees, the man began crying, ashamed at what he had become.“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He wept quietly.Suddenly, he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder.It was the woman.“Oh, I’m so sorry. I don’t know how this happened. Please, I want to be better. What can I do?What can I do?” he cried.The woman gave him a knowing look that said there was no need to cry.“You’re ready for redemption,” she said hushed-ly, “follow me.”The two walked down the hall, towards the first room that had been so full of excitement.She took that same key from the man, and used it to open the door.“Here’s your chance to be better,” she announced.As the door swung open, the man was illuminated by a gleaming light, and a small grin creptonto his tear-stained face.Thinking of the man he once was, he took a deep breath, pulled his shoulders back, and walkedinto the light.