In a room the size of memory, the Secret Keeper walks down an aisle of tall shelves, rolling a ladder and flipping through a ring holding an unfathomable number of keys.
There are shelves made of iron and some of obsidian; mahogany and bone; plastic and radium. On every shelf is an infinity of small lockboxes. And the Secret Keeper knows the locations and instructions for them all, knowing without question when he should flip his great collection to the precise key that will open a specific box, releasing the secret held within out into the universe so that it might finally be known.
Some are the secrets of how that very universe functions. The secrets of gravity and radiation and acceleration are held in boxes made of comet dust and gold and atomic fire. Pieces of the grand secrets of the motion of the stars are disseminated in small doses as a creature makes those crucial discoveries that warrant a turning of one of the Secret Keeper’s keys.
Many are the secrets that the creatures inhabiting the universe think to keep from one another. There are secrets of transgression held in boxes made of heartstrings and smoke, unlocked as a confession is whispered out of guilt or fear. Rumor unlocks waves of black-lidded boxes as words, true or false, are passed along the wind between giggling trees. The ladder creaks under the Secret Keeper’s feet as he climbs to retrieve a titanium box, opened by a deathbed accounting of everything that always seemed too frightening to admit.
There are boxes made of mirrors, whose contents will never be released. Families who will never learn what became of their loved ones. Planets that spun out of orbit and vanished into a lonely vacuum. Why that one dessert tastes just so good.
And somewhere, tucked away amidst a thousand thousand boxes that seem just like it, there lies a box that smells like home, whose secret is yours. The time when the Secret Keeper will turn its key and sets your secret free is not his to decide. For he resides forever alone in a room lined with all the secrets of all the worlds.