As I open the lid of the suitcase, realization dawns that this is not my own and is in fact, a complete strangers. Embarrassment etches itself across my face and as one goes to close it once more, a shining object catches my magpie eyes. With nervous hands and a guilty heart, I reach inside. Underneath a top layer of dirty old clothes, badly packed at that, is the shining item that caught my gaze. A small cigarette tin with an engraving of the words ‘Nothing is certain’ shining upon it.
Inside are twelve, perfectly rolled cigarettes. As neat as can be. The case clearly belonged to a man, an elderly man, judging by his clothes. An old fashioned pipe lays within his shirts. Tumbling through, I find a book on gardening. An old book with grubby, tattered pages. A pair of old fashioned grandpa caps also make a swift appearance. ‘Oh my!’ I exclaim, for within those homely details, I find myself holding the cruel black handle of a glossy shotgun. Shock rivets through my body encouraging me to put everything back in its rightful place.
‘Can I help you love?’ I hear from behind me. Fear hurtles through my body at a hundred miles per hour. It was a small, tired voice, with husky tones. Spinning round at the speed of light, my ankle gives out on me and I fall to a heap on the floor. Looking up I see a small old man, likely a similar age to my own grandfather who’s knocking on 70. He has a small frame with a receding hair line, the last few hairs that remain are thin and combed back with his hairs natural oils. I quickly scan his face to see if there is any chance that this could be the very same person that would own a gun. His eyes were soft and gentle, dark brown and clear. Shadows framed them and an inner light lit them. He had a small nose with many open pores and a crooked smile, a smile that you know would have once been quite charming had it not been for the naturally decayed teeth. I hurry to regain my steps and answer quickly ‘Um I’m not sure, are you the owner of this case?’
‘I am indeed, and I believe this one here is yours’ He replies, pulling an identical case behind him. A rush of relief overwhelms me and I skid towards the case in my hurry to move on, I grab the handle and turn to leave until a frail but strong hand hooks beneath my arm. ‘Are you okay love?’ he says again. I tell him I’m fine but his disbelieving eyes see right through me. ‘Would you like to go for a coffee if you aren’t in too much of a rush? Go on, make an old man’s day?’ He says. The words themselves almost sound like he was asking me out, but the tone of his voice said nothing of the like. I know what this is about. I nod politely and smile without a word. He turns around and heads to the nearest café within the airport. I walk slowly behind him with my tail between my legs, the temptation to run away playing on my mind. We soon arrive at a small cake café, under the glass counter and bright light, different colored cupcakes with various different designs upon them gleam out along with a large range of glossy pastries and chocolate cakes. The elderly man walks straight past them, not giving them the time of day.
We turn to a quiet corner where no families or silent travelers lurk and sit comfortably in the large bucket chairs. When seated, I couldn’t help but look down at my lap and twiddle my thumbs upon them. Feeling the unusual mans gaze upon me I quickly sit up and jump in with some small talk. ‘So, whose name shall I say stole my luggage’ I say jokingly. He replies with equal vigor, ‘Oh yes, sorry, slipped my mind, I’m Charles, but you can call me Charlie, and yourself?’
‘I’m Tanya, just Tanya’ I say with a nervous laugh. ‘Where have you been travelling from, or too I should say?’
‘I’ve just been travelling home from Scotland, it was only a short trip, and I hadn’t intended to stay long.’ He says with a smile. The smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes, suddenly they are no longer bright and chirpy, sadness seeps into them, even a touch of sorrow perhaps.
‘Oh yes, which part did you go too? And what for?’ I say, gaining confidence.
‘Nasty business really, spreading some ashes’ he replies, his smile only saddening further. We soon change topic and it’s not long before we part ways, nothing being mentioned of the gun, or my snooping.
Having slept well, I wake to go and make myself my early morning brew, a tradition in my household. Whilst sat at the kitchen table, I notice our local newspaper with todays date upon it. Another daily occurrence due to my partners obsession with the news. Opening the first page, shock hits my spine. Within is a large headline with a picture of an old man, the very same she had met only the evening before. The headline in the darkest ink known to man reads:
‘Wife and Husband, Together, Forever’
By Lauren Noding
By Lauren Victoria