A Dashing Traveler, by Dawn Utech

The usually quiet train station platform is overrun with students going to the city. Being a holiday weekend people my age are out on a splendid mission to make the most of the extra free time. The sun has finally re-emerged after a false start to fall. I hear my fellow traveler’s shouting to each other “See you there!” and “Wow! This is going to be so much fun! Can’t wait to get there.” The air is full of melody with the sounds of suitcases rolling on the cold cement flooring paired with voices rising in their final goodbyes.  Thoughts of meeting up with old and new friends, sitting under an umbrella, sipping steamy Cups of Jo with a cute waiter or waitress meeting your every need at a sidewalk café, and simply relishing the freedom this weekend has kindly bestowed upon us; that is what my fellow citizens are listing at top of the list as to how to spend this perfect autumn day. But not me; I have a grim mission to complete.

The night before I faced the biggest challenge I have encountered thus far in my life experience. Although, I have made confident choices on my own, this time I was at a loss as to what would be the proper thing to do. “I can’t do this!” I thought to myself. With helpful guidance just a phone call away I sought the help of my dear auntie. Her soft, kind voice offers me the support and direction I desperately need.

So, here today, I board the train with my well-worn black suitcase. Heavy with precious cargo it wobbles on the stair leading to the inside of the train. A thought pops into my head as to what a scene I would create, if, the suitcase fell open amidst all the hustle and bustle of happy travelers. I would be called out – my secret safely held within the tattered black canvas would be exposed. I would be shamed and ridiculed. Maybe even thought to be a deviant. My emotions running high I quickly attempt to find an empty row of seats. I find one close to an exit and I nestle in near the window. The suitcase is safely in place between my shiny brown Ralph Lauren boots; my knees quivering from effort. But my shoulders ease and at last I am closer to completing my daunting task.

Before I realize someone is standing near, I hear a strong, masculine voice. So lost in thought, I am actually stunned by his sudden presence. “May I sit here?” His electric blue eyes fringed with jet black lashes, so long they must tickle his cheek when he closes them to sleep, look at me earnestly. I can’t force myself to say no.

Like an Adonis before me; solid shoulders, slim physique, a star football player, perhaps. Impeccably dressed in pressed dark denim and a red cable knit sweater, he sits with ease in the seat next to me. I am instantly drawn in as his musky Drakkar Noir envelopes the air around me.

He asks, “Such a beautiful day to go into the city. Are you meeting friends?”

“No. I am going to see my family.”

“Oh, is that why you have the suitcase? Are you staying for a few days?”

Fear runs through my veins. No one must know what my travel entails. I am too vulnerable to be exposed. “Ah, well, not really. You see, my grandma passed away recently and this suitcase has a few of her things in it. I’m taking it to my aunt’s house in Brooklyn.”

It must be his easy smile, the way his sandy-blonde hair effortlessly frames his perfectly tanned face. He knocks me off balance and I lose my capability of remaining silent. Why else am I telling a complete stranger my plans? Even though I am not really telling the truth, why are words being spoken about my suitcase at all? – Those eyes! I am flustered and not thinking straight. This handsome traveler is seducing me; distracting me from the importance of my delicate task at hand.

“I am getting off in Brooklyn, too. Maybe we can walk together once we reach our stop? I’d like to get to know you better. Is that okay?” My mind tricks me, and I say, “Sure.”

The train rolls along from stop to stop. The landscape changes from tall oaks just turning color to steel and concrete. Conversation with my handsome seat companion rises and falls with comfortable simplicity. Before I am aware that time has passed effortlessly, we reach our stop. It is time to de-board.

I feel mixed emotions and my mind is racing. I feel sad that my time with the attractive stranger is quickly approaching its end, as I am never the girl who gets the guy. Is this my only chance of being singled out and find true romance? – Oh, how can the timing be so wrong! I can’t be thinking of true love, I have to remain focused on my delicate mission. Soon the precious cargo will reach its final destination while no one is the wiser.

I put my reality in check and rise from my seat and head toward the exit; my suitcase in tow. Lead by determination I plod along with the rest of the crowd. Just as I am nearing the welcoming exit the sunlight suddenly blinds me as it bounces off the cold, grey steel of the train I had grown accustomed to. In the moment I try to regain my clarity the man with the electric blue eyes, sandy-blonde hair and red cable knit sweater is at my side offering to help me with my suitcase. I almost shout “No!” but I remain calm and instead I kindly decline his offer. To my astonishment his hand envelopes mine anyway. We are now both holding the handle of my suitcase. The power of his touch repossesses my attention. I am lost in thought as to how this unpalatable journey has turned into a joy of meeting a possible suitor. But before I can start planning our first date I am quickly snapped back to the present. An instant later I am hit with an overwhelming feeling of panic as my suitcase leaves my protective hand. There is no time to recover as I watch helplessly, as if in a fog, his effortless attempt to relieve me of my belongings. Confident and assured in is choreography through the crowd he holds my suitcase in his arms and pushes his way out of the cold steel to the awaiting platform. Now free, he runs like the football star he truly must be.  He is gone from sight protected by the happy hustle and bustle of the crowd found at the other end of ones journey.

I stand frozen. My boots failing to move me forward, I just stand there while carefree people brush past me. Numb to the human contact I am overcome by loss. My throat tightens as I try to hold back the tears. Gone, my suitcase is gone! My precious cargo is gone! The hole in the backyard of my aunt’s house, neatly dug with care, shall forever remain empty. This is a sad turn of events, indeed. I try to come up with a rational explanation to tell my aunt. I know she won’t believe me.

But, just as easily as the tears formed in my eyes and before I can stop myself, a laugh escapes my lips. “Ha!” I say aloud. I wonder what Mr. Blue Eyes will think as he opens the suitcase? I transition from sorrow to being beyond thrilled that his anticipation of finding valuable treasure will soon be ruined! The joke is on him. There is no treasure for him to find. Well, at least not a treasure he seeks. It is only a treasure to me. My precious cargo is lost to this dashing traveling thief.

Held within the confines of the tattered black suitcase, she is lovingly wrapped and secured in pink tissue paper and a plastic zip-loc bag for her burial, never to be seen again. I pay respect to my beloved toy poodle. With a sad smile I say aloud to no one, “Bon voyage, Coco. Bon voyage.”






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