It was a Sunday evening. It wasn’t a special Sunday. It was like any other Sunday in a Midwestern city. It was cold and damp and full of autumn colors as the woman in a red hat walked down the street. She had no idea where she was going. Something had told her to leave the comfort of her home and walk. And walk she did.
The woman was in her early 30’s. There wasn’t anything that was remarkable about her. Her eyes were unremarkable. Her smile was unremarkable. The way she walked, shy and timid, was unremarkable. In fact the only thing about her that was remotely interesting was her name. Her name was Cle.
Cle walked along the darkened streets as the city crawled sluggishly by. The smell of wood fires filled the air as she crossed a deserted street. The city was quiet as she walked aimlessly along. She wasn’t really paying attention to where her feet took her. Her feet moved as if following a path that only they understood.
The red hat that she wore fluttered on her head as a gentle breeze teased it. Cle was very proud of her red hat. It was the only thing about her outfit that stood out. Her brown dress hung limply about her. But the red hat said something entirely different. It said I am wild and brazen and I don’t give a damn what you think.
As she walked along, Cle noticed a shiny metal object among the scattered brown and orange leaves that lined the streets. Stooping forward to investigate, her hat fell off her head and tumbled to the sidewalk.
The object on second glance was an old key. She picked it up and held it in her hand, feeling its weight on her palm. It was a skeleton key with no markings. How strange, she thought to herself. She stared at it long and hard as the night’s air stood still around her.
“Where did you come from?” she said to herself.
The only sound to answer her was the sound of her heartbeat, soft and steady.
Cle placed the key in the pocket of her dress as she stooped to pick up her red hat. That same wind that had teased her hair picked up that red hat and sent it on its way. Cle reached for it, but her arms were not long enough and the hat soared high above her. She could only watch it as it soared higher and higher up until it disappeared into the night’s sky. A single tear trailed down Cle’s cheek as she realized that her red hat was gone for good.
Placing her hand in the pocket of her dress she searched for the key that she had found. She placed it into the palm of her hand and studied it. The key gave off a mysterious glow as she ran her fingers across its ridges. Strange thoughts flitted into her head as she continued to rub her fingers across the key. If asked she would not be able to put into words what she was thinking, but suddenly her feet moved forward. Those feet clad in ordinary brown shoes, again walked an unknown path understood only by the soles that walked them.
High above the city the red hat rode the wind like it was a carnival ride. It soared higher and higher and higher. It did so until it tired and floated down onto the street below. It wasn’t a special street. Just another street in another Midwestern city waiting for another ordinary woman to walk by. And so it waited.