Friday, December 21, 2012

The Suitcase

Nelson placed his brown, travel-worn suitcase on the stiff hotel quilt, threw his coat behind him on the other bed, then popped open the half-tarnished latches. He quickly undid the safety straps and proceeded to deftly unpack his shirts, socks, and underwear into piles on the bed behind him. Nelson had discovered the joy of using two beds early on in his career. A leaky window and heavy autumn rains had caused his room to be switched with a vacant double. He found the extra bed worked better than hotel dressers that reeked of cheap cedar and varnish. With his clothes laid out he closed the suitcase and placed it at the foot of the bed next to the clothes piles.
            He stopped and stared at his brown, travel-worn suitcase. Ester had given it to him as a gift a week after he started with the company. She had told him that he was going to go places, both in the company and in the world, and that a sturdy suitcase would become his home away from home. He gently caressed one of the battered brass rivets, feeling the rough speckles of age and decay. He ran his finger along the worn edge, feeling the brown leathery exterior becoming a thin, sand-colored line of fuzz. Nelson stopped halfway to flick up the handle with a loud creak only to let gravity instantly return it with a louder creak and clatter. The faux wood grain pattern had long ago given away to the dark caramel color underneath.
            It’s seen better days… Nelson thought to himself, but it still does its job as good today as it did on its first day. No one outside of hotel staff and the occasional “companion” would ever see it, so what did it matter? Nelson had lived out of that suitcase for literately years. He was pretty sure that only one of his suits, and none of his socks and underwear, had ever seen his actual bedroom, or his house for that matter.             When was the last time he had seen his own bedroom, he suddenly wondered.
            His gaze once again returned to his brown, travel-worn suitcase. Again, he caressed the battered brass rivets, feeling the red-brown age of life on the road eat away at the lustrous yellow fasteners. Time had tried to break down and weaken the fasteners, scar and fade the leathery outside, and even remove the smallest accent of class from the handle.
            But time had failed. The suitcase was still sound. It still held its cargo. As long as it could still do its job, a use could be found for it. It would not be thrown away as long as it could still do its job…I wish I were a suitcase…
            Nelson started chuckling to himself at the ridiculousness of the thought. As he started laughing in earnest, he felt tears well-up in his eyes. His laughs became howls, then cries of pure anguish. The years and years of time alone, the miles and miles traveled without a companion, all of this flooded out in streams and wails. This robbed his legs of their strength and left him kneeling face down in front of the suitcase.
            Time spun by and he looked up through blurry eyes at the brown, travel-worn suitcase.
            I wish I were a suitcase… thought Nelson, then he dropped his head back down, his back heaving deeply between sobs of pain. I wish I were a suitcase…

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