Regrets And Forgiveness

Key Time

Edna still remembered her dream vividly; it was one of those she had often. She did not need a therapist or psychologist to tell her what this dream meant; she already knew it. Also, it was kind of hard for her not to feel this way about closets and cabinets if her teacher would lock her in one every lesson, sometimes even going so far that she was not allowed to come out during break or long after the lessons for the day had ended. Her only company in there was Mister Hornbush’s coat, which, in retrospect, looked more like it was tailored with a lady in mind or at least a slim person. If only she had a better, more tolerant teacher, who would not have taken sides, she would have probably enjoyed school more, albeit not as much as Alfred – no one loved school as much as he did – and she would certainly not be a little scared of closets.

Edna reached her classroom, where a crowd had formed around somebody. She could not see who it was and, frankly, did not particularly care. It was not like it was something to get excited about. Without so much as looking at the crowd again, Edna walked to her seat, sat down and unpacked her books and folders, as well as her pencil case for her first lesson. Then she spent her time waiting for the lessons to begin by staring out of the window. It was a gorgeous day in early summer. If the temperatures would stay the way they were at the moment, or increase, it would be a perfect day to take a quick dip in a pool or a natural body of water.

“Hey Edna?”

Sebastian, who addressed her, and Bianca had come over to her. They stood in front of her desk, both of them giving her an inquiring and, also, a curious look. Edna turned away from the view outside and reciprocated their looks.

“Yes? What is it?”

“Is it true what Heike’s been telling?“, Bianca asked in a hushed voice, leaning close to Edna. She glanced over to where the crowd had been when she arrived; it had dissipated, only a few were still there and she could now see who they were gathered around. It was Heike, and Daniel and Gabrielle too.

“It depends on what she’s been saying”, Edna responded, looking back at Sebastian and Bianca.

“Well, she said you pushed her in the pond in the park last Friday”, Bianca told her. Edna bit her bottom lip; she was still uncertain if she did the right thing. The fact that it reminded her of the circumstance regarding Alfred’s death still bothered her. She could not stand Heike, yet she could not help but to feel relieved that she did not die because of her actions.

“Yes, it is true”, Edna admitted. Sebastian and Bianca’s eyes widened and their jaws dropped synchronously. It was like their body parts had decided to become a synchronized swimming duo. Edna was not sure what to make of their expressions. Were they impressed or shocked? It was kind of hard to tell if they looked like goldfish.

“Oh dear, this is not good”, Bianca mumbled somewhat panicky.

“Heike’s planning to press charges against you”, Sebastian explained at Edna’s confused face. Now it was her jaw that was dropping and her eyes that were increasing their sizes. Perhaps she should have seen it coming but hearing Heike would really do this, or plan it, was still a shock. Edna chanced another glance at Heike, who was currently gossiping with Gabrielle and a few other girls. Then she glanced at the clock hanging above the door and sighed. She could not wait for school to be over...

While Edna was suffering in school, the Key Master suffered too... of boredom in his case. He woke up in the early morning hours and, after walking several times around the perimeter, was at a loss of what he could do to pass time. If only he had something with him, like a book or anything else that could keep him busy. He regretted not having asked her for something. Maybe he could go to town, but even then, what was he supposed to do there? He had no money and could therefore not by any supplies to clean his new hideout and make it more comfortable. Also, he was cautious of meeting people as they would probably recognize him as a murderer and escaped mental patient. Of course, Edna was an escaped mental patient too and she was still walking around freely, but there was one difference between her and him; she, unlike him, was not a murderer. Then again, he had not seen any wanted posters bearing his or Edna’s face or that of the other three for some time now – and there were a lot of them shortly after their breakout. Nevertheless, it did not mean he was safe... Perhaps he should go for a walk through the forest later.

The Key Master lay down on the grass with a sigh, his eyes directed towards the brilliant blue sky. Of all the mental institution he had to end up in, it had to be Doctor Marcel’s. If he had been brought to one where they actually care for their patients and do their best to heal then, then maybe he would not have to lay here and be bored to death. This could be the case for everyone in Doctor Marcel’s asylum if they had ended up in another mental institution. They could all be healed and have their place among society. Maybe not everyone, that would be utopian, but efforts would be made. The Key Master suddenly frowned for two reasons. One, since when did he have such idealistic thoughts? And two, why was Doctor Marcel allowed to run a mental institution? The Key Master had his doubts that Doctor Marcel rightfully earned his title. A thought crossed his mind and he had to chuckle when he thought of what title Edna would give to him. She would call him an enormous, insufferable bonehead or something similar to this.

His expression changed once again, this time to one of puzzlement. What was the reason Edna was in a solitary cell in Doctor Marcel’s asylum? He knew she was schizophrenic but that was no reason to lock her in a padded cell. There had to be another reason... Was the hatred the doctor felt towards her this great? Even if this was the case, it was no real answer to the question in the Key Master’s mind. Just what was the connection between Doctor Marcel and Edna? While stuck in his own cell, he would occasionally hear the guards talking to one another, which was how he knew about the vendetta but not the reason. Even Edna did not seem to know it. Did she ever find this out? It was kind of amazing how a single girl could occupy his thoughts again and again. There was something fascinating about her, like a secret he had to find out.

The hours passed with no special occurrences taking place. It was an ordinary, lovely day. The golden afternoon sun hung high in the azure sky, with only a handful of fluffy, white clouds like cotton candy accompanying the celestial body. People spent this beautiful afternoon swimming in the pool or keeping themselves in the shade of trees and eating ice cream. Only Edna did neither of those. Right after school, she bought some detergents and two cloths. Once she was home, she packed some fruit in a box and packed some of Mattis’s clothes in her rucksack. Although she doubted they would fit the Key Master but seeing how skinny he had become, it was worth a try. Grabbing a water bottle and her phone, which she put in her pants pocket, she left her apartment with a heavy rucksack.

This time, the way to the hideout in the forest was shorter than the day before, though it was exactly the same. However, Edna still remembered the path and thus found it sooner. She also walked, despite her heavy luggage, faster. In fact, she was almost running. After all, once she reached the Key Master’s hideout, she would be reunited with Harvey. Oh, how she hoped he would not be mad at her. Even she did not know what was wrong with her the day before. Perhaps she was simply too focused on helping the Key Master. Speaking of him, Edna just spotted him sitting under a tree not too far away from the cottage. She approached him and he turned his head towards her, obviously having heard her steps.

“Hey”, she greeted him with a smile.

“Hey to you, too”, he responded, patting the spot next to him. Edna took it as an invitation to sit down, so she took off her rucksack and sat next to him. Nothing was said for the next several minutes, only the singing birds and a gentle breeze blowing through the trees was heard. This kind of tranquility used to annoy Edna when she was a child but now that she was older and more mature, she found she did not really mind. Of course, she would always prefer noise but a quiet time now and then was nice.

“You forgot Harvey yesterday”, the Key Master spoke up. Edna nodded and replied:

“I know. I hope he’s not mad at me...”

Frowning, she gazed towards the cottage, where she assumed her blue friend was.

“I don’t think he’s mad and even if he is, I’m sure he’ll forgive you.”

Edna hummed in response, still looking at the house. She just wanted to run and get Harvey but was afraid of his reaction. It was the first time she left him behind and was therefore separated from him. Last time this happened was years ago when she fled the authorities; she lost her grip on him after she fell into the river. This had been unintentional unlike this time. But, a little voice in her head said, you did not forget him on purpose.

“Go and get him, I left him on the bed”, the Key Master said. When Edna still hesitated, he added: “He will forgive you, otherwise he would be a bad friend.”

The corners of Edna’s mouth turned upwards.

“You’re right. Thanks”, she replied and stood up. She dusted herself off. “I go get him. Oh, and I got some things for you in my rucksack. You can take a look.”

She headed towards the cottage after saying these words.

This was the only quiet room in the whole asylum, no matter at which daytime. No one had a key to this room, not even the master key worked on the lock. Doctor Marcel possessed the single key that could open this door. He had to change the lock and get a new key after this kleptomaniac loony with the rag doll rabbit stole the old one. After her breakout, every room had been searched for any damage she had done. Doctor Marcel was furious when he discovered his special key was missing. Fortunately, nothing was damaged when he checked this room – for which he was relieved. His cushion was the only object that showed any signs of Edna having been in the room. At least she showed some respect to precious memorabilia, which she obviously did not show for other objects. Doctor Marcel had to replace the desk in his office, for instance, because of all the damage Edna did to it. But he was not here to think about her. No, he was in this room that was illuminated by a red glow from the sun shining through the red curtains for another reason. Toys from a time before electronic devices took over society were carefully arranged in this room. The center and focus was an altar. Above it was an enormous picture of a boy, no older than eight. Below this picture was an urn with flower bouquets lying left and right of it. The only other object on this altar was a jar full of teeth, most but not all of them being deciduous teeth. Everyday, Doctor Marcel came to this room to remember his model boy. In these hours of solitude and quiet, he kept thinking of what Alfred would be doing now if he were still alive and remembered what a good boy he had been. During his time alone here, he could hear the happenings in this institution but blocked them out. Whenever he was in here, he would think of Alfred and only of Alfred. It did not matter what the patients did or if they escaped – they were always caught. The only exception for this rule happened a few years ago but none had escaped the asylum since then. Besides, who would have thought Edna’s determination was this big? Or that her rabbit had such a great influence on her and her memories?

Doctor Marcel looked at the enormous picture of his deceased son, holding back a sob. No matter how many years passed, he would always miss him. He turned his head to the left to view three more, albeit smaller photos on the wall. Each of them showed Alfred during different stages of his life. The oldest photo showed him as a baby; on the other two, he was older. One picture was him dancing ballet when he was five and the other was of him building a snowman with a tie. Alfred was probably seven years old when this picture was made. Doctor Marcel had taken each photo personally. He was so proud of Alfred and knew he would have a respectable job if he had lived to grow up.

Only a single door separated Edna from Harvey. An insufferable tool of exclusion as she liked to call them. Although doors had their uses, she was nevertheless not very fond of them – especially when they were locked. She always preferred to come and go as she wished, or at least have a key. If this were a door in Doctor Marcel’s mental institution, she would now wish for ketchup, mustard and a ballpoint pen to decorate the door. However, as this was not the case, and she was unfortunately lacking these items, she simply opened the door and entered the house.

“Harvey!“, she exclaimed as she spotted him on the bed. He gave no response when she sped up to him. One could say he was sulking. “I’m sorry I forgot about you.”

The lagomorph rag doll still gave no response. He was not even looking at Edna. She sighed, still gazing at him with apologetic eyes while also surreptitiously scanning his body of any signs of injury. From what she could see, he looked like he always did, with only a scar over his left eye as his single injury and she knew for a fact it was not the Key Master’s fault.

“You left me alone with this madman”, Harvey pouted. “I could have been killed.”

“But you weren’t. Besides, you’re made of terry cloth, you can be fixed”, Edna pointed out.

“And what if I was slashed in a million pieces of blue fabric and cotton balls? Would it be easy to sew me back together?”

“Maybe not but I would still try.”

Finally, Harvey was looking at her with big eyes.

“You’re my best friend, Harv. I may have forgotten you here yesterday but I did not abandon you. I could never do that.”

His eyes were still large, otherwise he showed no emotions. He did not move a muscle and he made no sound. Edna reciprocated his expression with a sincere look, though she felt herself crumble on the inside, slowly but surely. She tried not to show it but to stay strong. Harvey should know she meant every word; this was something she would and could never lie about. Suddenly, the size of his eyes decreased back to normal and a grin formed on his face.

“Edna, you’re just the best”, he complimented her. “Besides, I can’t stay mad at you.”

She took Harvey in her arms and hugged him, promising to not forget him again. Holding her friend made of terry cloth close she left the house and returned to the Key Master. Her rucksack was still next to him, exactly on the same spot she left it, looking untouched.

“Judging from the way you’re holding Harvey, I assume it went well”, he stated in a matter-of-factly voice.

“It did”, Edna confirmed joyfully. She sat back down on the same space as before. “Didn’t you check the stuff I brought for you?”

“Nah”, he shook his head, “I think I’ll do this tomorrow. Today is just a lazy day.”

He leaned against the tree, crossing his arms behind his head. Edna had never seen the Key Master so relaxed before; it was a huge disparity to the way he usually was. Normally, he was calm yet like a vault Edna had no combination for. Ever since she met him again in her old home, he had been behaving very out of character. Edna was unsure about all this, even frightened it could all be a trick that would cost her life but still decided to give him a chance. There was still hope he was sincere.

“Say, what did you do all day long?“, the dark haired female asked curiously.

“Nothing much. At first, I was bored and didn’t know what to do with myself but then I’ve decided to walk around in the woods. You know, to acquaint myself with the surrounding area”, the Key Master responded as if he was talking about the weather.

“Did something happen that made you so relaxed in such a way that is unlike you?“, Edna questioned, arching an eyebrow.

“Oh? And how, pray tell, am I usually?”

“Like a kind of person you’d find hard to describe.”

Another word crossed Edna’s mind, one she did not know where it came from and yet could not argue about it. Still, she did not dare to say out loud. There was something weird about telling a person like the Key Master that she found him fascinating. Still, even without being described with this word, he gave her a smirk full of satisfaction.

“I’ll take that as a compliment”, he commented. For some reason, Edna had to grin at his response. She could never imagine him saying something like this but hearing these words coming out of his mouth was somewhat amusing. It was confusing for her; sometimes, she was unsure and a little uneasy around the Key Master but at other times, she felt comfortable around him. He was the first person who could identify with her situation of having been stuck in solitary confinement for a big part of her life. She knew he was in the same situation, though she did not know if he was alone in a cell for as long as she was or even longer or perhaps for a shorter amount of time. There was a lot she wanted to know about him.

“Hey, Princess?“, the Key Master spoke up. “Why don’t you tell me about your day?”

“Why not?“, Edna responded, though a little surprised at his request. She shifted a little to get in a more comfortable sitting position. Holding Harvey in her lap and leaning against the tree, she spoke: “Well, school was stressful, as always, but we’re almost done for the year. However, there was nothing of particular interest; we only did some exercises on our current topics or did some revisions, like linear functions in Math or the Cold War in History. I learned a classmate’s planning to charge files against me. We’re going to write a test about Faust this Friday – I might not come to visit you on Thursday then. Gotta study.”

“Hang on a second, what was that one?“, the Key Master asked in confusion.

“I probably won’t come to visit you on Thursday?”

“No, before that. Something about charging files against you... What happened that a classmate would do something like this to you?”

Edna hesitated, biting her bottom lip. She was not sure if she should tell him. Would he laugh at her and tell her she was being ridiculous because of the way she behaved? Or would he perhaps understand her and morally support her? Edna glanced at Harvey for advice.

“Just tell him. One way or another, he’s going to think you’re completely bonkers.”

“Alright...“, she replied almost inaudibly. Slowly, she turned to the Key Master; however she did not really look at him as she responded to his question: “I... pushed her in a pond...”

“You did what!?“, he exclaimed. She could hear in his voice he was taken aback, perhaps even shocked. Nonetheless, she did not say anything in response but just turned her head away a little.

“Tell me, what exactly happened that you pushed a girl in a pond?“, he inquired. Even though Edna was not gazing at him, she could imagine his arched eyebrows and wide eyes.

“She took Harvey away from me and made fun of me... I got mad and pushed her”, she explained, still looking everywhere but at the Key Master. She knew what she did was wrong and foolish; she did not need him to reprimand her. Nevertheless, this did not stop him from doing so:

“How could you act so thoughtless? Have you not considered the pond could be deep and that she could perhaps not swim? Her wet clothes could have dragged her underwater. Aquatic birds could have attacked her. No matter what, there was a possibility she could have been severely hurt or even be killed. Edna, you are not a killer.”

The last word had not entirely left the Key Master’s mouth when Edna unexpectedly jumped up. Something about his final sentence made her furious, so much she stormed off with only Harvey in her arms. What did the Key Master know? She was a killer, several lives had ended prematurely and two almost did all because of her. He should know; he was one of the latter. So, how could he say she was not a killer? Also, how did he dare to reprimand her? Had he not murdered several people too? What a hypocrite, Edna thought furiously. She did not know what was worse – that he reproached her or that he once blamed her for one of his murders. It did not really matter, both made her equally mad.

“What just happened?“, a perplexed Key Master wondered aloud. Whatever kind of reaction he had expected, this was not one. Edna was never the kind of person who would just run away if she was being reproached. Even when he blamed her for his murder of the reverend, she did not run away. Then again, the only way out was to jump off the bell tower. Still, he never saw her as the kind of person who would be offended and abruptly leave when being criticized. Or was it an entirely different reason? If so, he would like to know next time he saw her. That was, if she would come back; she did look really furious when she stormed off...

“Sometimes, I just don’t understand you, Edna”, the Key Master whispered while gazing at the last spot he saw her before she disappeared. He knew she could not hear him, he spoke too low and she was also probably too far away by now. With a sigh, he took the rucksack she left behind, stood up and returned to the cottage. He might as well see what Edna brought him, seeing he had nothing else to do. The first two things he took out when he opened the rucksack were a bottle of water and a lunchbox. He opened the latter to find some fruit. At least, she would not let him starve. Further rummaging the contents of the bag, he found some clothes, which he assumed were from the pile of men’s clothes from which Edna found the large gray shirt – he still wondered where she got these clothes from – and he also found cleaning supplies. Well, it seemed he found something he could occupy his time until Edna visited him the following day. Of course, he could do it now but, admittedly, he was not in the mood. For some reason, he was not feeling very productive at all today. He guessed it was because there was nothing he could do all day long and now, when he finally got something to do, he was too lazy. Besides, tomorrow was another day and why should one do something today if one might as well do it tomorrow? There were worse things than procrastination. Yes, he would clean this house the next day and try the clothes Edna brought him on. After all, he had to see if they fit him; it would be nice to have a change of clothes. However, there was one single question that entered his mind: what about the garments if they needed to be washed? Should he perhaps give them to Edna and let her wash them at her home? Or was he supposed to clean them exactly like women did before the invention of washing machines? The Key Master did not particularly care which option was available as long as he could be completely sure. Well, another thing he could add on his list of questions he wanted to ask Edna... He should really start to put them down in writing. One day, the two of then might be sitting down and playing a game of twenty questions, for he was confident she had a couple of questions about him as well. Perhaps she would ask him about his name again but, try as he might he just could not remember it, as if he had lost the memory... There were a lot of things he was unable to recall. Every time he tried, he only remembered being escorted to Doctor Marcel or being visited by him but then, it was like somebody put a great blanket over his memories. The Key Master had not been able to regain all of his memories and was not even sure if he ever would. But maybe he should be glad he recovered at least some...

By the time Edna was back in town, she was still fuming about what the Key Master said. For a brief moment, she thought he would understand her but she was wrong. He did not understand her at all... and he was a hypocrite. The question whether he crashed against a tree or a hundred during his walk through the forest crossed her mind more than once. Perhaps his time alone on the run had affected his mind worse than anything that happened to him in the mental institution. She was so mad at the Key Master she did not pay attention to where she was going and thus crashed against a person, landing on her behind.

“Whoa! Careful!“, a voice exclaimed in surprise. Edna gazed upwards from her spot on the ground to see Sebastian, offering her a hand. She accepted his hand silently and he helped her up.

“You’re not hurt, are you?“, he inquired.

“No, I’m alright”, Edna replied, letting go off his hand and snaked her arm around Harvey, who was currently pressed against her chest with her other hand. “I just wasn’t watching where I was going, sorry. I-I was lost in my thoughts...”

“Makes me wonder what occupied your thoughts. Is this the thing with the charge?”

“Yes, this is what had me lost in my thoughts”, Edna lied with no hesitation. She could have told him about her conversation with the Key Master, could have told him about the Key Master currently hiding out in the forest but this was the last thing she had on her mind. Yes, she was mad at him but not enough to actually betray him. No matter how furious she was, she felt she could never betray him. A part of her still believed he understood her.

“Don’t worry about it, Edna”, Sebastian tried to cheer her up. Edna, appreciating this, gave him a tiny smile.

“I was about to go eat ice cream. Want to come along?“, he offered.

“Sure”, she nodded. Sebastian offered her his arm like a gentleman; she just looked at him with raised eyebrows and he withdrew his arm. They walked next to each other, Edna was once again thinking of her earlier behavior. Did she make the right choice by running away? She should have talked with the Key Master like a reasonable adult and not run away like an immature teenage girl. Still, she found it difficult sometimes, probably because she never really went through this phase in her life... or did and just could not remember it. Damn Doctor Horatio Marcel! Why could he not keep his promise to Mattis in a way every other normal person would do? Without the whole memory erasing and rewriting her character thing? If anyone needed a therapy, it was him.

“We’re here”, Sebastian’s words pulled Edna out of her reverie. She noticed a tiny ice cream parlor with a big, too brightly colored sign telling her its name: Ice Cream Spectrum. It was so bright, it actually hurt her eyes. If there was one thing this place needed, it was a new sign; one with more subdued colors. Right now, she was in an internal struggle whether she found this sign or Petra’s decoration for Peter’s birthday party worse. Hopefully, the ice cream they sell tasted delicious.

“Let’s go in, shall we?“, Sebastian suggested, to which Edna only silently nodded. However, the moment she entered the ice cream parlor, she wanted to dash away. The interior designer had to be either Petra or a relative of hers. Everything was kept in bright shades of green, orange, red and yellow. The hope of the cold sweetness tasting good and the fear of this not being the case increased with every second. She and Sebastian seemed to be the oldest ones here, apart from the parents of little children and the employees of this establishment.

Edna followed her classmate to a table in the middle if the room and sat down opposite of him. There were several small menu cards on the table, from which each of them took one. She scanned the menu, quickly deciding on a banana split with a scoop of chocolate, cookie dough, and blancmange ice cream. Sebastian decided on this sundae that looked like a clown. They ordered their respective choices and then, Edna kept her eyes just on Harvey since he was the only one who did not hurt her eyes.

“Isn’t this an awesome place?“, Sebastian commented, sounding as giddy as a teenage girl who was about see a concert of her favorite boy band. Edna did not respond; she just stared at him with a dumbfounded face. She started to doubt it was such a good idea to go with him...

“You’re not very talkative, are you?”

“I just have nothing to say”, Edna replied to his question, gently stroking Harvey’s ears.

“What is it with you and this rabbit?”

“His name is Harvey; he’s been with me for as long as I can remember...”

“And I will always be with you!“, the blue rag doll rabbit piped up, making the corners of Edna’s mouth move upwards.

“He does not look like he’s been taken care of very well”, Sebastian commented. “He looks kinda dirty and like he had lost one of his eyes and got it sewed back on.”

Edna ignored this statement; she could explain why Harvey was the way he was but did not want to. It would take too much time and she had work later. Sebastian would also not understand any of this; he was not there or could not put himself in her position.

“What are you going to do during summer vacation?“, he asked. Edna shrugged her shoulders, she had not really thought about this:

“I dunno. Guess I just have to wait and see...”

“I’m going to spend three weeks in France with my family. You could join us; I just have to ask my parents”, Sebastian offered.

“I’ll think about it”, the dark haired girl replied the same moments their orders arrived. Withdrawing one hand from Harvey, she took her spoon and commenced eating. Tasting the cold chocolate-flavored sweetness in combination with the banana, chocolate sauce and whipped cream on her tongue, she found it tasted much better than the interior of this ice cream parlor would suggest. She took another bite, this time adding the cookie dough, and then, on her third bite, she added the blancmange ice cream. She had feared the ice cream would taste like this place looked – absolutely atrocious – but was pleased the opposite was the case. Her banana split was soon gone from its bowl and down in Edna’s stomach. She and Sebastian, who had eaten up his too, paid and left, taking a walk and holding a conversation about their last few weeks of school before summer vacation. Then, it was time for her to get to work...

A new day dawned not unlike the one before. Adults, who had to work at six in the morning, were already up and about as were children and adolescents with a long way to their respective schools. Those with a shorter path or who were lucky enough to have their parents drive them were still enjoying their last thirty to sixty minutes of sleep. One person who was still in the land of dreams, though for much longer than an hour, was the Key Master. It was the first time he slept until for more than just a couple of hours. While on his search for Edna as well as concealing himself from the authorities, he only had brief periods of sleep. But the need of a good long shut-eye was just too great. The Key Master always had to be on guard, he could not afford any mistakes. His desire to be in his former cell diminished with every passing day, if there even was still one to begin with. The stillness and tranquility of the forest also helped him sleeping peacefully like he had no worries in the world.

It was around midday when the Key Master finally woke up. He yawned as he sat up, still looking dazed with sleep. Not wasting any time, he got up and went to the bathroom for a cold bath. At first, the icy water he got from the well felt unpleasant to him, though it did wake him up properly. As his skin got used to the freezing temperature, it was not so bad, it actually felt congenial. Still, it would be nice if this house had heating and electricity. Did the person who built this place want to live like the earliest humans? Or did they abandon their project after finishing the main room and the bathroom? The Key Master thought of adding more rooms, heating and of building a contraption that would enable him to use electricity. But he soon dismissed it as absurd and silly. Still, he had to think of something if he did not want to freeze to death in winter. Fortunately, it would still be a long time until it became colder. So, now that he was finished with his bath and dressed, he should use his time to clean the house. He mentally thanked Edna for bringing him supplies the day before.

The task of cleaning the house took up several hours, with a short break thrown in to eat two sandwiches and a banana, until there was no speck of dust, no dirt and no cobwebs left. Satisfied with his accomplishment, the Key Master put the half-empty bottles of polish in the cupboard and washed the dirty cloths. Next thing he planned was to try on the clothes Edna brought him after a short break. Needing fresh air, he left the cottage and took a walk along the river, just hearing it flow. Sometimes, he could not fathom that he wanted to lock himself and Edna up in a church and never go out again. Back then, he did it to prevent himself from killing another innocent person again but in retrospect, there were several flaws in his plan. For one, the police and Doctor Marcel’s minions would have searched the church sooner and later and recaptured them. Or was this what he wanted? He did not know... And two, who says he would not have killed Edna or done anything else to her? The Key Master felt a sudden rush of gratitude and appreciation towards her for her willingness to help him despite everything that could have happened.

“Key Master?”

He stopped walking, not sure whether he imagined a voice calling for him or not. He listened intently, blocking out the sounds of the forest and river, and sure enough, he heard it again:

“Key Master? Are you there?”

This sounded like Edna, he thought while jogged towards the house. He could have sworn she visited him at a later time the day before but maybe it was just that he had no clue at what time she arrived the day before and what time it was now. Sure enough, he found her standing in front of the house, carrying an ice box with Harvey on top of it, and looking around in confusion. Her expression changed into one of delight the instant she spotted the Key Master approaching her. It was like the little episode of the day before never happened.

“Hello, Princess”, he greeted her, stopping right in front of her.

“Hello to you too”, she retorted. “I bought this ice box for you, y’know, to keep your groceries cool.”

Edna slightly raised the box in her hands, to which the Key Master gave a nod in acknowledgement. He opened the door to the house, indicating to her to step in. She walked past him into the house, where she put the box down on the table. He followed her but moved to the foot of his bed where he kept her rucksack, which he took and gave to Edna.

“I think you still need this”, he stated.

“Oh, thanks”, Edna said, taking her rucksack back. Holding it loosely in her hand, she examined the shiningly clean furniture for a few minutes until she spoke up: “I’m sorry for yesterday.”

The Key Master was puzzled; he thought it was his fault she stormed away, which he was quick to mention.

“Well, it was something you said but you don’t even know what. Or do you?“, Edna explained, looking at him questioningly at the last three words. He had to admit it; he did not know what made her leave. It could be anything, even a tiny comment – he was aware that women could be irrational and could overreact, however he was careful not to mention it to her.

“No, I do not”, he replied.

“It was the part when you reprimanded me for what I did to my classmate”, Edna admitted while taking Harvey by his ears in her hand. “Especially the last part but the thing is... I’m not ready to talk about this yet.”

“Alright then...“, the Key Master responded. He felt a certain curiosity to what she did not want to say yet but also respected her reluctance. There were things he was not ready to talk about yet too. He knew people needed time until they were ready to talk about something, it made no sense to force them into telling them.

“How about we take a walk?“, the Key Master suggested.

Edna raised both her eyebrows at him with her face showing a little surprise as well as interest and nodded. After receiving her answer, he offered her an arm, which she accepted.

They strolled along the river in silence. Edna wondered if there was a reason the Key Master wanted to take a walk with her or if there was no reason at all. Harvey kept warning her that this was just an excuse and that he wanted to kill her and throw her in the river. She blocked her rabbit’s warnings out; for some reason, she did not think this was the case. The Key Master had so many chances to do her in before, so she saw no reason why he would do it now.

“I have a feeling you’re here earlier than you were yesterday”, he unexpectedly spoke up, making Edna, who was lost in thoughts, jump. He either did not notice or chose to ignore it.

“Well, I am. Normally, I would have a double lesson of History but our teacher has to bring her daughter to her doctor’s appointment”, Edna explained. After school had ended, she had gone to the store to buy the ice box and afterwards had gone home to drop her school stuff, eat something and to get Harvey before rushing here. He had tried to convince her to not visit him anymore and that she made a wise decision to just leave the day before but it fell on deaf ears. After all, she had promised she would help the Key Master and also, he had a right to know why she left so abruptly. She was glad he did not insist to know the whole reason, as she was not ready to talk to somebody about this yet. She thought she was but when she spotted the Key Master, she found she was not. Not even Tina knew several people passed away because of her.

“Is there something you want to talk about?“, Edna asked, mainly because she did not want to think about the deceased.

“No, I don’t. What makes you think that? But now that you mention it”, the Key Master started, sounding quite odd, “I would need your help with getting the materials and building some things.”

“I can try to help, you only have to tell me how”, Edna replied, who was confused about the way his voice sounded. “And when you need the respective materials. By the way, what exactly are you planning to construct?”

“Traps or something similar to keep unwanted guests away, just in case”, the Key Master started. Edna acknowledged it with a nod. She would have planned the same if she were in his position. “But also something that would enable me to have heating and electricity. I think there’s something I could construct that would make it possible for me to use the latter but I have my doubts about the former.”

Edna got a feeling he was not being serious. Actually, she was pretty sure he was pulling her leg. Well, two could play the game.

“I can see what I can do about the traps, though I think a force field would be much more effective. You would have to deactivate it whenever I come over, otherwise I would not be able to help you out”, Edna replied, sounding like she was a businesswoman. “But I don’t know anything about the other things. However I would suggest a giant hamster wheel for electricity. As for the heating, I would say to lay a giant fire in the middle of the room. Or, alternatively, we could look for solutions on the Internet.”

“Can you really find information about all this on the Internet?“, the Key Master asked somewhat astonished and incredulous. His eyes seemed to have increased in size. He probably did not have access to the Internet at all since he escaped from Doctor Marcel’s institution, Edna thought to herself. She silently wondered to herself when he was brought into the asylum and if he ever surfed the Internet before this.

“You can find answers and information to just about everything on the Internet nowadays”, she replied with a shrug. “But I don’t quite know about this.”

“You do know I was just joking, right?”

“Thought so, but who says I can’t play along?“, Edna smirked at the Key Master. “Still, you have a point in regards to the heating. Maybe we’ll think of something in time.”

He nodded without saying a word. Edna reckoned the conversation was over. She could not think of anything to say about this all, so she remained silent. She watched a flock of birds flying high above in the sky. It would be nice to have wings and to fly freely, just like these ornithologic creatures.

“Say, when were you brought into the asylum?“, Edna suddenly asked, moving her ocular organs away from the birds and to the Key Master. He stared at her with a similar expression to what she had earlier when he suggested taking a walk.

“It was in the early Two Thousand’s. I think we still had Mark as currency and not Euro”, unlike the last time she asked him about his life, he gave his answer almost immediately. “It was certainly some time after you became a patient there.”

“Really?“, a bamboozled Edna responded. “How do you know that?”

“I can vaguely remember Doctor Marcel throwing a temper tantrum because of you. He was shouting something about an Edna trying to escape again.”

The thought of driving the doctor crazy made Edna chuckle. It felt satisfying to know she made his life a living hell, even during her earliest days in his institution. He deserved it for everything he had done to her.

“You look quite pleased with yourself. I’d almost feel sorry for Doctor Marcel if my emotions towards him were less negative”, the Key Master commented amusingly. Edna smirked at him, earning a chuckle in return.

Nothing more was said after the Key Master’s comment. As always when these two spent their time together, there was at least one period of silence that Edna did not mind. There was no rule that said that they had to talk to each other nonstop; the quietness was actually quite useful to reflect on the conversation. Maybe she should try to convince Tina to drive to her old hometown with her; she reckoned she had some stuff in her old hideout that the Key Master could find useful.

“I should be going now”, Edna said some time later, after she and the Key Master returned to the cottage. “Anything specific I could bring you tomorrow?”

“Perhaps a toothbrush cup, a toothbrush and toothpaste. I have those but I left them in my old hideout”, he replied while Edna took her rucksack.

“Alrighty”, with an empty rucksack on her back and Harvey in her arms, she walked towards the door. Before leaving, she turned around to say “see you tomorrow” and then left for the day.

When Edna arrived back home after her working shift, she found Tina sitting on the couch in the living room and being absorbed by a video game. Edna quietly approached her to see what she was playing and saw her housemate controlling a blond, young man in a dark field, where lightning struck at random intervals. Whenever this happened, the character dodged by jumping backwards, however one time, he was not so lucky and fell on his back.

“Aw fucking shit!“, Tina cursed. “And I was so fucking close to get the fucking Sigil!”

Edna decided not to say anything and just went to her room, where she put her rucksack in a corner and Harvey on her bed. She was glad she had no homework for the next day, as she was exhausted and hungry. This could be both remedied, which she was quick to do. For her hunger, she spread butter or other spreading they had on a few slices of bread and ate them. After her quick supper, she went to bed and fell asleep, being waked by Tina some time in the middle of the night because she was screaming and cursing in frustration.

A new day dawned a little too soon for Edna’s liking. Upon feeling the rays of the sunshine on her face, she turned away from it, wanting nothing more than to keep sleeping. Unfortunately, this was not supposed to be because Tina knocked loudly at her door.

“Time to wake up, Edna!“, she called. “Unless you either want to go to school without any breakfast or late to school.”

Groaning, Edna reluctantly got up and left her room. The table in the living room was already set with bread, sausage, honey, Nutella and butter as well as cereals and milk and a bowl and apple juice. Edna decided on cereals, thus she grabbed the package and filled a bowl with this and with milk. Additionally, she filled a glass with apple juice. Tina, in turn, ate two slices of bread with butter and sausage, and one with Nutella. She looked like she was up all night with her video game, which Edna would not be surprised if this were true. Anyhow, Edna simply ate her breakfast and made no comment – she was too tired to say anything anyway. When she was done, she went to the bathroom to wash herself and brush her teeth, and then she got dressed. After she was done with all that, Edna was about to head to school until she remembered she had yet to get her school bag and repack it. Not wasting any time, she did all this and then rushed to the educational establishment.

Unlike Edna, the Key Master could sleep as long as he liked. He was already awake nonetheless; he could not sleep anymore. But he did not get up, he was lost in thoughts. Since he had no reason to go around in shadows in search for Edna, he had plenty of time to think and to try to remember his past. Something must have happened to him that he lost his memories, the only things he could recall were whatever he heard the guards in the mental institution talk about. Really, they were just as bad as a bunch of gossiping women. But whenever the Key Master tried to remember anything from his own life, like his adolescent years or why he ended up in an asylum in the first place, it was like a black veil covered these memories up. Well, he knew he was in the asylum because he was a murderer but he did not remember the circumstance that led him to committing the deed. There were some things he could still recall, like his childhood, but nothing that told him his name or any other important things. It was so frustrating, if only there was a way for him to regain his memories. He had been able to push the veil away a few times; he remembered what kind of person he was during puberty but could give hardly anything specific. There were often times when he wondered if Edna had to go through the same dilemma and if she actually found a way to overcome it. After all, they were both the only ones in solitary confinement and he saw no reason why Doctor Marcel would erase every patient’s memories. Perhaps this was some kind of therapy... a sick, twisted kind of therapy. If this was, the Key Master doubted this would accomplish anything. Then again, Doctor Marcel was not the most sensible guy out there, which even a loony could attest. His therapy methods were just too questionable. What could was memory erasure accomplish to anyone unless his patient was a war veteran with traumatic experiences? No one who was no soldier should have their memories erased but keep them. It was just wrong. The Key Master gave a frustrated sigh as he tried to recall something, anything from his early adulthood only to see a black veil before his inner eye. He hated Doctor Marcel just for everything he had done to him. If anyone deserved to be locked up, it was him. That way, Doctor Marcel would be unable to damage anyone else in any way. The Key Master remembered Edna mentioning everybody deserved freedom but there were just some who need to be locked up...

Another exhausting, boring school day had passed. If Edna had not thought up her survival mantra of “not long until vacation, not long until vacation”, she would have gone crazy... or crazier than she already was. She had no idea what she was going to do yet but she knew it was going to be more fun and more exciting than school.

“Oh Edna!“, an annoying singsong voice called. Edna groaned, not turning around or stopping. She knew who this was and was not in the mood for a conversation with this person. However, this person had other plans and quickly caught up to her.

“Hi Edna”, Heike greeted her with a smug smirk on her face.

“What is it, Heike? And what’s with your sardonic face?“, Edna asked in exasperation. Heike was another reason why Edna was looking forward to summer vacation. Even Alfred was not as annoying as her. In fact, he was a decent guy, who one could easily get along with, when compared to Heike.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”, the younger girl said. “What do you think of our Art homework for next week? Are you sure you’re up to it? After all, anything related to fashion sure is not something you know something about.”

“You do know we have a choice between either jewelry or a CD cover “, Edna commented. “For all you know I might as well choose CD cover.”

The moment she heard the choices she knew what she wanted to pick. Designing jewelry was never something she could imagine herself doing, but a cover for a CD was. But all in all, she kind of liked the idea their Art teacher had. Everyone would have their own, individual ideas and there was a chance unique jewelries or CD covers would be drawn. There was no limit to their imaginations, except their own.

“Seeing what you wear, jewelry can only end badly for you”, Heike mocked, then giving a high-pitched laugh. It sounded like somebody inhaled helium and tried and failed to like Statler and Waldorf – only that these two old Muppets were funny and not annoying. “Well, I better go now before your weirdness jumps over to me.”

Still laughing, Heike walked faster and left a furious Edna behind. What right did this annoying cow have to insult Edna like this? She had never done anything to her – at least until she pushed her into a pond – but Heike made insulting comments ever since they first met. Well, there was no point in dwelling on that. Groaning, Edna continued on her way home, stopping at the store to buy oral care products for the Key Master.

When she arrived home, she was the only human in her and Tina’s apartment. Harvey was where she left him, on her bed.

“Hi, Harvey”, Edna greeted her oldest friend.

“Welcome home, Edna”, Harvey responded. “Did you learn anything useful, like how to set fire to the moon?”

“Not quite but we learned that Rio de Janeiro used to be Brazil’s capital until the early Sixties. I forgot why it isn’t anymore”, Edna responded, taking Harvey into her arms. She did not take her school bag from her back but instead left the apartment right away. It was such a beautiful day that she decided to do her homework outdoors and seeing that they had no balcony, she was going to do them at the Key Master’s place. Maybe he could help her.

One trek through town and forest later, Edna arrived at the hideout, where she saw the Key Master on the hill. He did not seem to have noticed her, so she quietly ascended the hill. She wanted to scare him. An opportunity like this one would not come every day, so she just had to do this. Edna was as quiet as a mouse, unlike the episode in the church after the Key Master killed an innocent person. It was kind of weird to think how scared she was of him back then when she was currently about to give him a little scare. She did not know where took the bravery to do something like this from, maybe she just wanted to do something reckless.

“The hills are alive with the sound of music”, Edna began singing when she was just a few meters away from the Key Master. His only reaction as to turn around, though he seemed to have moved a little faster but maybe this was just her imagination.

“Hello, Princess”, he said while she ascended the rest of the hill to him. She did not understand why he kept calling her that; there was nothing regal about her. Or he saw her as some kind of princess locked in a tower, except that she was no damsel in distress.

“What are you doing up here?“, Edna asked, to which the Key Master just shrugged and replied:

“Only enjoying the view.”

“Anyway, I brought the things you asked for”, Edna announced, holding the plastic bag up with a grin.

“Ah thank you”, the Key Master replied, taking the bag. “Did you come here right after school? The bag on your back looks like a school bag.”

“I thought I could do my homework out here and perhaps study a little for my test on Friday.”

“Then follow me.”

He descended the hill with her in tow and led her to the side of the house, right where the house threw a shadow. He indicated to her to sit down before doing so himself. Edna took off her bag from her back while she was sitting down. Once she sat on her butt with Harvey next to her, she opened her bag and got her homework planner out, skimming over the page for this week. Only English and Mathematics homework for the next day. She decided to do the subject she was bad at first. Therefore, she took her book and opened the respective page, and after doing so, she took out her folder, which she opened too. Something that sounded like a whine escaped her while reading the task. Two intersections were given and she had to find the linear equation for them. Why did Math have to be so difficult? The Key Master looked over her shoulder to her book without making a comment. Edna sighed and started solving this task that should be referred to as ‘torture’.

Somewhere else, Lilli did not have to trouble herself with homework. She was outside in the beautiful garden of her adoptive parents’ house, watering flowers with a merry little tune on her lips. It was lovely to sing or whistle while working without a strict Mother Superior reprimanding her to stop doing that. She had never realized this before but the convent school was a living hell, which was kind of ironic. The only person who was nice to her was Edna. Lilli often wondered to herself how she was doing and where she was. She would like to see her again someday.

The girl finished watering her flowers, returning the watering can to the side of the house, where it always stood when not in use. Beneath a cherry tree was a table with three chairs and on said table were some materials for embroidery. She used to have Embroidery Class at the convent school, though she was only permitted to stitch crosses by Mother Superior due to her lack of talent. But Lilli had decided to keep embroidering and even dared to stitch other things. She had improved her talent over the years but not by particularly much. Sometimes, it was difficult to recognize what she was embroidering. For example, she was embroidering a horse at the moment but it looked more like a rabbit dressed up as a donkey. There was plenty of room to improve and Lilli was ready to.

“Here, some refreshments for you”, her adoptive mother joined Lilli outside with a glass of lemonade.

“Thanks”, the blond girl replied, putting her embroidery stuff down and taking the glass. She took one big gulp, leaving the glass half-full. That was refreshing! Feeling energized, most likely because of the sugar in the lemonade, Lilli continued embroidering with her mother keeping her company. Only the birds and the cars passing the house were making any kinds of sounds. A gentle breeze blew through the tree and both females’ hair; Lilli tugged a strand of hair that fell in her face behind her ear. Once in a while, she drank from her lemonade until it was empty. Neither she nor her mother noticed how much time passed; it was only when her father came outside when they realized what time it is.

“Lilli, Susan, it’s time for dinner”, Stefan told them. His wife stared at him skeptically before looking at her watch. Not a second later, a whispered “oh dear” escaped her lips. Knowing full well what it meant, Lilli stopped embroidering.

“Don’t worry, I made dinner. Just come inside, you two”, Stefan calmed his wife, who was starting to look panic-stricken, down. Susan smiled gratefully at her husband and walked to inside the house with him, taking the empty glass with her. Lilli followed them, carrying her embroidery stuff.

The Key Master silently watched Edna struggling with her Math homework. He would like to help but linear functions were not exactly his field of expertise. He observed how Edna kept scribbling in her folder, occasionally groaning in frustration until, after what seemed like an eternity, she shut both folder and book and threw her pen on the ground. She stretched her arms out towards the skies and exclaimed loudly “done at last” to the heavens.

“And I don’t care whether it’s correct or not”, Edna added while putting her Math book and folder in her bag. The Key Master chuckled to himself at her comment. He watched her taking out just a folder this time and opening it. Looking over her shoulder, he noticed it was English and from what he could see, she had to fill in the gaps of a text. Compared to her reactions while doing her Math homework, she seemed to be far more relaxed than before and was done fairly quickly.

“Do you need help with your studies? I happen to know a bit about Faust“, he offered after he saw Edna taking out her German folder and Faust book. It was one of the few things he could remember from his past. Who would have thought this could be useful? Or that he could use his knowledge to help somebody? Edna stared skeptically at him, as if she doubted his words. Well, he could not blame her; he did not come across like an expert for literature.

“You don’t believe me”, he stated calmly.

“It’s kinda hard to”, Edna responded. She briefly averted her eyes to open both book and folder on their respective correct pages. Looking back at the Key Master, she added: “Then explain to me why Faust is so dissatisfied despite being educated in various ranges of subjects?”

“The reason for his dissatisfaction is that even with all that knowledge, he knows not what holds the Earth together in its innermost core. Basically, he feels he knows nothing at all but wants to know everything. He’s also unable to enjoy life at its fullest. He may be a very knowledgeable man but he does not know anything about social interactions. Educated in brains but not in heart. This is why he called forth the earth spirit and agreed on the bet with Mephistopheles.”

He explained this all in a calm voice, so that Edna could register every single word. Perhaps it was his imagination but she looked kind of hypnotized.

“Can you tell me more?“, she asked, only adding the word “tomorrow” after a quick look at her watch. She slammed her book and folder shut and rapidly packed them into her rucksack. “Sorry, but I have to get ready for work. Any wishes for what I could bring you tomorrow?”

“Yes, Princess, I could need a new pillow and blanket as well as something to keep me busy during the day. Perhaps a book or new furniture I could assemble. The ones in this house aren’t exactly in a good condition.”

Edna nodded in acknowledgement while hoisting her rucksack on her back. She bent down and took Harvey in her arms.

“I will see what I can do about the furniture. See you tomorrow”, she said and left. Alone once again, the Key Master leaned against the exterior wall of the house. Even though he would deny ever thinking or feeling this, he wished Edna could stay longer. At least he would have some company and he would actually feel like he was not wasting any time doing nothing, except hiding from the police. He doubted he could ever go amongst people without risking to be caught by the authorities. There was no way they would let a murderer walk around freely, especially not when he was a convicted murderer. It did not help that he killed several more people after his escape from the mental institution. His fingers were starting to twitch; the urge to kill somebody slowly took over him. But no, he had to hold back. The fear in his victims’ eyes filled him with some kind of twisted pleasure that quickly disappeared when he stared at the corpses. Yes, he found joy in killing but the sick feeling he usually felt afterwards was more intense. Once, he did not care whether his victims had loved ones or not until one day... It was shortly after he killed a man, he fled but was still nearby when a child, about five years old, appeared and cried over her father’s corpse. This was when he thought about what friends and family of his victims would feel upon their death for the first time. Even before that, the Key Master was not fond of his murderous tendencies and therefore had tried to stop himself from murdering by locking himself inside a church, though it did not help much. It was puzzling to him; he never understood why he killed when he disliked it, except for the brief moment of satisfaction? Perhaps it was like doing drugs or like drinking a humongous amount of alcohol; once one would start, they would feel good for a short time while actually damaging their bodies and it would not be easy to stop doing so without help. The Key Master had not killed anyone for a long time but it was still difficult to hold back. Like an addict, he needed help but from someone who actually wanted to help him. Maybe this was why he liked Edna’s company; with her around, he never thought about or had the urge to murder.

After depositing Harvey and her school bag at home and getting her ID, lunchbox and work clothes, Edna rushed to the Mare de Sol. At the moment, she was busily waiting tables while also going through her head about what the Key Master wished. Getting him a pillow and blanket would be easy, she and Tina had more that enough at home and she supposed she could provide for a book or something else that could occupy the Key Master’s time. The problem she saw was in getting furniture. Where could she get one complete, albeit Spartan, interior that would only cost little? She was not exactly rich. Perhaps she could afford just one piece of furniture if she decided she did not need anything for the rest of the month.

“Penny for your thoughts”, a voice next to Edna suddenly spoke up. She turned her head to her right to see Anika looking curiously at her.

“Come on, something’s bothering you. Tell me, maybe I can help”, Anika added. Edna thought about it for a moment. She obviously could not tell her about the Key Master. But what if she just told her about what he needed? There was no need to mention his identity. Thus, Edna began to speak:

“Oh, it’s nothing. A...“, she hesitated. What exactly was the Key Master to her? An acquaintance? Or a friend? Yes, he was starting to become more than an acquaintance to her. “Friend of mine needs some furniture but he can’t afford them and he’s currently unable to work. And, well, I would like to help him...”

Anika hummed, apparently deep in thought as her eyes had a faraway look upon them. Absentmindedly, she cleaned a nearby table – the guest had left about ten to fifteen minutes ago. No words came from Anika while she was cleaning the table; Edna decided to wait the next table meanwhile. The guest, a young woman, just ordered spaghetti and a Cola. It was only after Edna served the guest her order, Anika spoke to her:

“What exactly does your friend need?”

“Hm, let me see. He needs a closet, drawers, table and chairs”, Edna replied, counting the objects off her fingers.

“Do you think he could wait for a few days? Me and my boyfriend are about to move in together. Maybe we could provide with those. I just need to talk to him about it”, the black woman responded. Edna nodded, the corners of her mouth moving upwards:

“That would be nice.”

“Konrad! Straube! Stop gossiping and get back to work!”

Both women jumped at the sudden yell of their boss. With a quick “yes sir” coming from the both of them, they continued their work. There was not much to do at the moment since about every guest had their order or already ordered but they would not dare to tell their boss. It was better to do their duties, there could always come a new guest or a guest would like to pay. As the patrons finished eating one by one and new ones arrived, it started to get more stressful. Edna and her colleagues ran left and right to take orders and to give the patrons the bill. She would certainly be glad when work was over...

One exhausting working shift later, as well as sleeping time and boring day at school, with food intake and personal hygiene thrown somewhere in-between, Edna once again visited the Key Master together with Harvey. She had a pillow and blankets as well as a book Tina had lend her with her. Also, she had her notes about Faust and the book with her. After the Key Master had proven himself to be knowledgeable about this topic, she thought he could help her with her studies. Perhaps he could give explanations to her if she did not understand something. Then again, how much did he actually know? She should better not count to him knowing everything about the time period. It would be foolish if she did. Nonetheless, Edna knew she could count on his help.

This time when she arrived at the wide open field with the hill and the house, she found the Key Master nowhere. Figuring he could be inside the house, she knocked on the insufferable means of exclusion. Almost immediately, he answered the door:

“Hello, Princess.”

He waved at her to come inside while walking towards the space between closet and bed, where he kept the ice box. Edna followed him and looked over his shoulder when he opened the box. She noticed there was not much left for him to eat. Just enough for two days.

“If you want one too, you’re free to take one”, the Key Master offered after he grabbed a sandwich.

“No thanks, I had a quick bite to eat before I came here”, Edna declined. The Key Master shrugged and closed the box. Edna, meanwhile, took her rucksack off and opened it. She took everything out, placing them on the bed along with Harvey.

“Here for you, except for Harvey, the Faust book and folder; I still need them. Oh, and the book’s Tina’s, so she will be wanting it back sooner or later.”

The Key Master hummed in response while viewing the objects on his bed and simultaneously eating a ham sandwich. He took Tina’s book in his hand and scrutinized the cover.

“Grimm’s fairytales? You do know I’m older than you, don’t you?“, he commented.

“Hey, you didn’t say what genres you like”, Edna defended herself. “And I don’t have any books, except for my textbooks, and Tina owns only a handful of German books and I don’t know if you’d read English books. The only other lecture I could offer is Captain Useless comics.”

Edna gave him a glare, daring him to make a degrading comment. He responded with the same facial expression. For a moment, it looked like a staring contest was taking place; neither of them blinked or averted their eyes. In fact, it almost seemed like none of them were breathing. Only the slight up and down movements of their chests indicated the life-giving inhale of oxygen and exhale of carbon dioxide.

“This is boring”, Harvey complained from his spot on the bed after several minutes. Edna broke her eye contact with the Key Master to glance at the lagomorph rag doll made of terry cloth.

“Be quiet, Harvey”, she said with a slightly reproving tone in her voice.

“You know, I think I can live with Grimm’s fairytales. It’s better than nothing”, the Key Master relented. Edna turned her attention back to him, giving him a happy smile.

“If it’s any consolation for you, when I moved in with Tina, I didn’t know what to do with myself whenever we had horrible weather and I couldn’t go out exploring”, she told him. “I didn’t know anyone here back then, so Tina suggested I could do something creative.”

“That explains all the clay figures in your room”, the Key Master commented with a smirk.

“Yup. We could try to find a hobby for you. Hey, maybe you could do arts too”, Edna suggested enthusiastically. “It’s much more fun if it’s not part of occupational therapy. I could buy you the materials. They aren’t that expensive. At least it’s cheaper than to buy new interior.”

“Well, I could try to occupy myself with arts. Better than to be bored to death”, the Key Master responded. “But regarding your last sentence, you have difficulties with getting new furniture?”

“Well, I don’t happen to have a donkey that poops gold. But I nevertheless have good news in regards to your furniture”, Edna started and told the Key Master about her conversation with Anika the day before.

“Now we only need a way to get the furniture here”, he said when Edna was done talking. Suddenly, he grinned at her, revealing his teeth that had a yellowish tint to them. Well, he was on the run until he came here, so she could not expect him to brush his teeth every day. Besides, it was not like an escapee would carry oral care products with him or her. Then again, the Key Master mentioned he had left his behind in his old hideout. How did he get those?

“By the way, I feel honored you refer to me as your friend”, the Key Master said.

“I think that was a mistake”, Harvey commented.

“Yeah”, Edna replied with a shrug, ignoring the blue rabbit. “I felt the word ‘acquaintance’ would not suffice. But, um, I got a question.”

“Fire away.”

“You mentioned you left your oral care products behind in your old hideout. But how did you get them?”

He stared at her, obviously not having expected this kind of question. Nonetheless, he answered:

“I stole them from the storage room of a store. One employee, apparently a newbie, was taking out the trash and left the door open. I saw no one was there, so I dashed in and stole a toothbrush, a cup and several tubes of toothpaste.”

“And you weren’t caught?“, Edna asked impressed.

“Well, it was no different than from hiding from Doctor Marcel’s minions or the authorities”, the Key Master shrugged. “You could manage it too if you have to.”

“I guess I could”, Edna responded, taking her Faust book and folder in her hands. “Um, do you think you could help me with studying?”

“Of course. Come, let’s go outside. I think it would be better to learn outside in the fresh air than stuck inside.”

Together, Edna and the Key Master walked outside. She was glad he agreed to help her. Now and then, she found herself wishing they had met under more pleasant circumstances that did not involve murder or hiding. His company was much more enjoyable now than it was before when he scared her and made her feel uneasy. They sat down underneath a tree at the edge of the forest. Edna showed the Key Master her notes while also opening the respective pages. She told how she understood each scene and he would either agree or correct her or add something. His explanations were easy to understand and Edna learned quickly, partly because she already studied a bit over the last few days.

“There’s something I don’t quite understand”, Edna mentioned after they spoke of the scene in which Faust killed Gretchen’s brother. Her cheeks slowly but surely started to redden. “Why was he so adamant that Faust would marry Gretchen? They only slept together.”

“Yes, but this was the Middle Ages. During those times, it was frowned upon to have sex before marriage, more so if the woman did the deed. They were supposed to lose their virginity on their wedding night, have many kids with the husband, take care of them and cook and do the housework. It actually didn’t really matter if the man had had sex, I think”, the Key Master explained musingly. “People were strict against sex before marriage; Gretchen would be dishonored if Faust would not marry her. She would have little to no chances of ever finding a husband, especially since she has a child. It’s different nowadays, when people can get intimate with each other even when they’re not married and will probably not be.”

“Being a woman in the Middle Ages does not sound fun. Only restrictions and no freedom”, Edna commented repulsively. “It’s like women were only reproduction and cleaning and cooking machines.”

“Yes, those were the times. Women were seen by society as useless and only good for bearing sons – daughters weren’t quite wanted.”

“That doesn’t make sense. How do they expect to reproduce? Anemophily? People from those times sure had screw loose... or a thousand.”

“I agree with you there but let’s continue with your studies for your test”, the Key Master said, sounding a little impatient. Realizing it made no sense to keep talking about it as well as to complain about something from ages past, Edna went back to her notes. Her cheeks, which had the color of strawberries, regained their normal complexion. Quite a few scenes were skipped since those were not read in school or for homework and therefore, she had no notes regarding those scenes. It was not long until she had to leave to get ready for work when they reached the end.

“Here, Faust wants to save Gretchen from her execution yet he is also unsure about seeing her again after abandoning her. She doesn’t recognize him at first and, because of the traumas she endured, is deluded. She thinks Faust is the executioner, so she begs him to prolong the time until her death, even asking to feed her child. It is only when Faust calls Gretchen’s name she realizes who he is. At first, she is glad to see him again, as there is hope he could save her, though she quickly realizes he is not the man she fell in love with. He rejects her affection, which makes Gretchen feel skeptical about him. Faust urges her to flee; she refuses, knowing she deserves death because of her murders. The guilt takes over her, making her more and more deluded as morning approaches while Faust becomes more panicked. Upon seeing Mephistopheles arriving at Faust side, Gretchen ultimately decides to give up on Faust and calls upon God to show she’s against the devil’s presence. Faust and Mephistopheles flee while Gretchen dies, but the line ‘is saved’ indicates her salvation.”

Edna listened attentively while the Key Master explained the final scenes, even taking notes. Her teacher had indicated they would have to write an interpretation about the final scene during the test. The Key Master also showed the lines that basically told the reader what the characters were thinking or feeling and he and Edna discussed the ending in great detail until she had to leave for the day.

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