Suitcases Always Want to Go to Europe

Ruth Lehrer

Ruth Lehrer

I’d like a gun. That’s what came to mind when he asked me what I’d like for Valentine’s Day. I’d like a gun.

He didn’t run but he did pause. What kind of gun?

Then I was stuck cause I had no idea of the difference between a shotgun and a rifle, a pistol and a pop. A blue one, I said.

Wal-Mart probably sells blue guns, he said.

Blue bullets. Blue revolvers. I wanted to buy one for my new blue relationship. Just in case it didn’t work out.

What sign are you? he asked me on our first date.

The year of the ostrich, I said this time. I always had trouble remembering my Chinese sign. The year of the camel, I said, when asked. I am a crab.

Crab hands are always busy but my fingernails are resigned to a day of no direction, no peace. Mine are fine and round. Why can’t my heart follow suit?

Follow suit.

He’s always dressed like that but we all have to know what’s underneath. Unless he’s cut it off in an attack of too much, it’s still there along with the hair and sweat.

Follow sweat.

Along the wallpaper, dragging fingertip bloodsweat along wallpaper, I leave DNA for the next architect to build a new species. A new species would be grand. Something patterned, not like us, something risky, something willing to risk a bad haircut or two. Something without a suit.

Pretty Girl helps me buy a suitcase. She has long blond hair. The girl, that is, not the suitcase. She is very, very patient. She explains the zippers and the flaps, the pockets and the hidden guardian, folded up like a handkerchief in deep valise corners. Hard or soft, wheels or ropes. I never knew a purchase could be so complicated. After three hours, we stop for lunch.

I decide between five sandwiches, two condiments, three kinds of bread. Sandwiches are easy compared to suitcases. A sandwich is here, and then it is not here. A fleeting aura. A ephemeral sign. A suitcase though, colors one for the rest of one’s traveling days. The permanent red stain of escape.

Suitcases rarely wear out. Occasionally a zipper zaps but I still have my zip-up college backpack. Faded but still waiting for more EurRail Europe. Suitcases always want to go to Europe. How about the Cape? I say. Paris, whispers hard case. Rivera, hums zip zip. They know about the Orient and Africa, but given a choice, and they do think they have a choice, suitcases would go London sightseeing in a blink of a lock. The Seine in a roll of a wheel.

We go to Argentina since we have a gun and a guardian and, tucked inside the third left zip pocket, I stash a sandwich, just in case.


Ruth Lehrer is a writer and sign language interpreter living in western Massachusetts. Her poems and fiction have been published in journals such as Everyday Genius, Biostories, Meat for Tea and Wordgathering. Her writing almost always includes something edible.


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