Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A bell rings as your eyes absorb the darkness - your foot crosses the threshold. The afternoon sun on your back you immerse yourself in the cool and musty air hanging in this Aladdin’s Cave. Books line the walls, from wall to wall, ceiling to floor, no categories, no collections, just individuals leaning against one another: Keats, Austen and mundane classics, once bought but never loved.

Your eyes are adjusting to the welcoming gloom, your bones relaxing as you find your footing. Voluntarily, you move forward, not knowing what you will find, eyes scanning the spines flicking over names and titles; once acclaimed, now forgotten. 

The suitcase is the last thing to catch your eye. It lies at the bottom of a pile of dusty books. Unnoticed for years, the worn leather and dull clasps hold a sense of haunting familiarity, an echo from the some stranger’s past.  Moving the books you free the case, lifting the weight that it has endured for unknown years. The label on the handle is faint but the writing remains spidery and elegant. Perhaps it belonged to a child, evacuated to the safe bosom of a family in the countryside, or perhaps it was hastily packed as a lady dashed for a train that was to deliver her to a lover.

Who knows?

Unsure of your intention, you take it to the man slumped behind the dusty till. He lazily lifts his head from a crossword and demands “Five pounds”.  Without a murmur you pay and leave the gloom, eyes blinking in the sunshine, adjusting to the harshness. People eye you suspiciously as you cross the main road. 

A time traveller perhaps?

This suitcase is yours now. It had no owner and it had no reason to be needed. Its purpose had been exhausted and it had been thrown out when her family cleared out her wardrobe. But now it is here and it is with you.

Take it where you will. Give it a life- but remember- suitcases have stories too, they just take longer to read.

© 2011 Charlotte Chase
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