Lock & Key

I suppose I expected an older man, someone in his sixties or seventies in dark-green overalls and an Eastern European accent. This tall, young, Mediterranean man with long dark eyelashes disarms me with his denim voice.

“I don’t think you want me to replace this lock with another one like it,” he says, “it must be 30 years old.” Which, I reflect, is likely older than him.

“Look at this key,” he frowns, holding up the familiar piece of burnished brass I’ve been carrying around for the last four years. “Do you see how easy it would be to copy? And the lock is just as simple to pick.”

I am suddenly alarmed for my safety—not because I’m worried anymore about the crazy ex-boyfriend who I’ve spent two days checking for behind shower curtains and doors, heart pounding in my ears, but because I’ve been carelessly unsafe for years.

“Now look at this one,” he holds out a swanky silver key with a complicated shaft of bumps and grooves. “This one can’t be copied without a special ID card and the lock is so hard to pick that no one would bother trying in a building like this with neighbours right across the hallway.”

It may be a well-refined sales pitch, but there is a man standing in my doorway, expressing concern with genuine eyes, and I feel quiet and warm. I spend four hundred dollars for a new lock and a spaciousness in my chest that feels like freedom.

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