Inside the Suitcase

Her folded clothes, neat pairs of high-waisted trousers, mini-skirts and shorts, brand new t-shirts, smart blouses her mother had sewn for her more formal dinners – or in case she meets a gentleman. Underwear of course, a nightgown, a coat and jumpers for the evening, and a new bikini. She also had a one-piece that her mother insisted she take, in case she meets a gentleman. Hanging up on the front of the wardrobe and with strict instructions from her mother to unpack and hang back up as soon as possible is her beaded dress that sparkles at the trim. Light blue, not a bright skyblue that’s the colour of the daytime, or a midnight blue that comes with the last bus home, but that magical blue that appears on the opposite side of the sky to the sunset.

She adds a small washbag with soap and toothbrush, it’s green leather with a monogrammed CA in the top corner and seems to have much better craftsmanship than everything except the dress. There will be a shop to replace what she uses, she’s not sure how she’ll wash her clothes but her mother tells her to look after everything. Two books follow, a romance and a collection of essays – to give her an interesting conversation at these dinners. She includes a small notebook with a photograph of her family glued onto the front, telling her mother she would get homesick easily. It’s empty except for five addresses – her parents, two of her closest sisters who now live in the countryside to the south of the city and two close friends from work. She checks them again and slots her boarding card in the middle of the book as she lays it neatly on top of the pile.

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She picks up her perfume from the top of the small table beside the window, there’s a photo of her sisters and a small pink candle that’s nearly burnt out. She dabs a little on her neck and drops it into another bag with her notebook, the brown leather with warm metal clasp sits next to the suitcase. She walks over to the case open on the bed and closes it shut – closing her life here and now.

Taking a moment to reflect, she hasn’t told her parents she’s not coming back. They wouldn’t let her get on that ship if they knew, she kept her secret for three years while she worked for the ticket, and in her brown leather bag she also carries an envelope with £100.00 is hidden away in the lining, she’ll exchange it for dollars or pesos or anything else she needs to get by. Her plan is to leave at the furthest port from England, she’ll watch the ship fade into the distance at sunset and she knows she’ll cry. Her parents will beg her to come home and she’ll cry and she’ll regret it, but those feelings won’t last forever. Overwhelmed for a moment a she feels the tears coming already and as she resolves herself she takes her suitcase and walks confidently out of the life that was hers for twenty English years, knowing that the world is nearly hers.

A post for Ailsa’s Travel Theme : Interior, based on a suitcase that belonged to my father’s aunt. All I know is that she used it for a cruise on the SS Canberra. I’ve guessed at her age, the initial on the address label we have is a C Asbury, I don’t even know where she went but the fact that we have the suitcase shows that she did come back. We’re using this for cards at our wedding, to fit into our vaguely international theme, a fitting reuse I think!

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