The Baggage Never Claimed | Teen Ink

The Baggage Never Claimed

April 30, 2011
By bananapan PLATINUM, Issaquah, Washington
bananapan PLATINUM, Issaquah, Washington
21 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
We too, are stardust.

She hugs me tight as we begin the slow descent back onto solid ground. She always fears those last few minutes, always thinks they make the critical difference between life and death. I am brave for her. My cotton fur, matted from years of use and love, is a source of comfort, and my synthetic eyes sparkle with the light overhead as though in understanding and compassion for her terror.

“Don’t be scared,” she says in a whisper only I can hear. “just two more minutes, ‘kay?” Her trembling assurances are more for her sake than mine. I am silent.

“I wanna see Daddy,” she continues, squeezing her eyes shut in concentration. “Daddy, and Teddy, and Kitty, and Clover, and everyone at home! I miss them. Don’t you? Don’t you miss them too, Husky?” Occasional pauses and an urgent tone characterize her frenzied monologue—a distraction from the plane’s terrifying dives and the sense of weightlessness that accompanies them. With her efforts, it seems less than two minutes when we sense the heavy thud that means we are home.

Now she can afford to loosen her grasp. She sits, impatient for the seat-belt lights to dim, plucking at my ears while delivering sharp kicks to the seat in front to pass the time. It’s only a few minutes, but for her the wait is agonizing. People start to chatter, babies start to sniffle; the white noise crescendos from a harmless smattering of voices into a thrumming babble. How much longer? she wonders, deciding the adrenaline from landing is too sharp a contrast to the boredom she now endures.

The lights finally darken, but still she mustn’t leave. Her shouts, gleeful with childlike imprudence upon undoing her seatbelt, turn to mutters of annoyance as her departure is delayed by the people ahead, who are in the process of gathering their belongings from the compartments above. Her unhappiness is unbearable. Penny, I think, just hang in there.

For all my good intentions, I am relegated to a seat in her bright pink backpack. The zipper is mostly undone, and my head peeks out through the opening. Mother turns around and orders her to get up: We are leaving.

The line moves haltingly, but we emerge and are led down a brightly lit corridor plastered with advertisements she doesn’t notice. At the end of the corridor, a man appears, his arms open, wide and inviting. A string of excited cries lets everyone within earshot know exactly who he is.
“Daddy daddy daddy!” She half skips, half sprints, unkempt hair flying behind her like the unfettered tail of a kite, and throws herself into his loving embrace.

“Hey there, Penny-bean!” He lifts her up with both arms, and I flop around helplessly in my pink confines as they twirl together, a human tornado of happy reunion. The zipper gives a little, but in the stupor of their emotion goes by unnoticed.

Mother catches up, smiling at her family, and asks Daddy where to go to pick up the luggage. The tornado recedes, and Penny gives a disappointed cry. In response and appeasement, Daddy picks her up and gently places her on his shoulders, enveloping her two small hands in his. She giggles with delight as the zipper opens wider, and now my position is so precarious that only my hind legs, which are still hooked to the inside of the bag, keep me from tumbling down. With Mother’s apathy and Penny and Daddy’s occupation with each other, I am the only one who realizes the instability of my present state, and it is no surprise to me when I start to slip….


I fall through space, I tumble seamlessly in and out of reality. Time feels like nothing more than a faint and meaningless concept. How much has elapsed? Hours,—days,—or more? But then again, what use do I have of time anyway? What use do I have of anything, now that my existence consists of nothing more than passively watching others in transit and waiting for the moths to nibble away my once-adored fur?

Adored…with this film of dust over my unseeing eyes and cotton stuffing leaking out of my deaf ears, can it be possible that I was once adored? Her love, and everything else I have come to associate with her, seems nothing more than a distant, moth-bitten memory.

How long ago did I fall from those lofty heights? From the security of her embrace? How long ago did she abandon me, leave me on this cold, gray-tiled floor? How long ago did that malicious grin of her zipper’s hooked teeth disappear into the distance? I see it in my dreams, gaping at me, shrieking stinging taunts and beckoning me to follow. I run as fast as I can, but it is like chasing the horizon during sunset. Impossible.

I used to wait for her. Patiently, I’d delude myself into believing she would come if only I wished hard enough. My days were filled with futile waiting, endless wishing. Hope, I found out, is more useless than resignation.

Now instead, I take spiteful pleasure in imagining her weeping for me, crying out my name in the unemotional darkness, where I was once her savior from the beasts of the night. I am a shell, an unfilled vessel, an Olympian become mortal. And being mortal, I can never again experience those Elysian joys, that taste of exquisite satisfaction with being.

Life, if this is even that, has turned me hard.

A spherical mirror hangs at the corner of the room. I see myself, a black and white figure, shadow-like and small, lingering at its edge. Unnoticed. Insignificant. They should change the name, “Lost and Found.” Nothing here is ever found. Relics of ancient history lay scattered everywhere, and cobwebs seem to be the debris of centuries past. No one will remember the things left behind in this lonely, dismal place.

I wonder as I sit, a broken and unwanted toy, how long ago did she forget me?
So here, I reflect. Here, I dream.

Here, I languish.

The author's comments:
Inspired by a traumatic experience I had at the age of 6.

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