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By Penny Marek

I am an old suitcase: strong, sturdy, dependable and slender – until filled. There is nothing I love more than being taken down and dusted off in preparation for a journey; my elderly hinges creak with excitement and sometimes trepidation.

Pre-journey plans usually mean I’m given an airing, which involves me being left open and vulnerable – the perfect place for that darned cat to drop his fur and use me as a scratching post before he curls up in one of my corners to sleep. When he is reprimanded and chased off I feel quite smug. Then there’s the comfort of being filled with clothing and apparatus necessary for the destination. My labels might have faded but they represent all the places I have visited. Where to this time, I wonder?

Airports usually terrify me. After being lovingly packed and treated like royalty, I’m given over to baggage handlers who show no consideration for my age. I’m just tossed about like all the others. There is, however, one plus to being old and slightly frayed around the edges (for this I begrudgingly thank the cat) and that is that I am mostly ignored when it comes to pilfering. I don’t look as if I hold anything of any value. Not like these snobby, designer suitcases with their so-called superior labels displaying the fashion house they are from. It’s my turn to feel superior when they are rifled through and their innards removed in a haphazard way.

The destination is my time to relax and reflect on how lucky I have been, the places I have seen and the conversations I have heard. As I’m filled once more for the homeward journey, the conversation is always about ‘weight’. How much weight has been put on, and whether I weigh more than I should for the airport authorities.

Of course I do. Look at me – I am bulging at the seams!

Penny is a drama teacher and a regular member of a writers’ group. She’s a skilled essayist, but in this exercise she was having some fun experimenting with voice. Writing from the suitcase’s perspective made this piece fresh and entertaining.


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