Delia's Keys

or Simple Pleasures

by Peg Kerr

Used by permission

Delia covets my keys desperately.

My keys are kept on a big brass ring. They slide around it easily and jangle in a highly satisfactory manner when I shift the key ring in my hand. Delia used to teeth on it when she was a baby. Now she just wants to take it away from me at every opportunity.

"Keys!" she cries when she sees me open my purse in the morning as we're about to go out the door. If I don't watch it, she'll dash forward and snatch them, shaking them in her chubby hand to make that tinga-tinga-tinga sound.

"Delia," I sigh. "I need those to drive the jeep." She dances off, madly jingling, making that deep chuckle in her throat we call her hairball laugh: "Ahk-ahk-ahk-kkkkKKKK!" I am reduced to chasing after her and begging an almost-two year old for my own property. It helps if I let her carry them out to the jeep. Usually she'll disgorge her contraband without too much trouble after she's safely buckled in her car seat. Usually.

For the last month or so, we've passed a particular billboard every day on our way to daycare. It's an advertisement for a jeweler in Bloomington, and it shows a hugely extravagant diamond ring. One day I noticed that holographic paper had been inset in the billboard, so that the facets seemed to turn color as we got drove past.

"Look at that billboard, Fiona," I remarked. "The ring sparkles when the sun shines on it. See?"

She looked. "Ohhhh," she breathed in wonder.

It got to be a ritual every day to watch for the sparkle ring. We'd watch for it, and as we got closer, I'd say, "Look, there's the purple! There's the blue-there's-the-green-there's-the-yellow -oh-orange-oh-red-look at it sparkle!" And we'd arrive at the daycare with a smile.

Of course, I didn't think it through. Billboards get taken down eventually.. This morning, we looked up at the usual place, only to see a new billboard advertising McDonalds.

"Oh, the sparkle ring billboard has been taken down," I exclaimed in disappointment. I happened to glance in the rearview mirror, just in time to see Fiona's face crumple, and she burst into sobs.

She cried all the way to the day care. When I turned off the engine, she was still wailing.

"Listen, honey, listen," I started, and pause, somewhat at a loss, trying to think of something to say to comfort her.

She looked at me. "What?" she said, tears still running down her face.

"I'll bet the people who put that billboard up had no idea we'd get so much pleasure out it. We'll miss it, but you know, it's good that we realize how much we'll miss it. That shows we know how to get pleasure out of simple things. That's how you find magic in everyday life. We'll just have to find other things to help us find magic." I got out and went to open the back door.

She sighed. "Ok," she said, and choked on another sob. "I need magic so much."

I felt a lump in my throat. "So do I, honey."

I reached over to unbuckled her car seat. I had slung my key ring over my wrist, and it dangled in front of Delia's face as I wiped Fiona's face with a Kleenex.

Delia lunged for the ring with a chortle of joy. "Keys!" she crowed.


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