W O R D S I D E A S R A F A Ë L B A R N W E L L
A Green Suitcase by Rafaël Barnwell
The loud music playing in the café across the yard pulls me out of sleep. It’s still dark inside but sun rays from the outside world are beaming. Like when I’m tucked under water, heart beats keep me afloat, voices above get louder.
Light tries to make its way to me, through the hideous blind. It’s thick, grey and made out of plastic. I didn’t choose it. It comes in handy to move into a fully furnished place when you’re new in town. With only a green suitcase. It’s priceless not to own much. I inherited the few plants from the previous tenant. And her blanket too. Remnants of paths crossing. The plants are by the window, breaths of life for my humble abode. The blanket embraces the couch now. Color for the charm. I will be here for awhile. As wet sheets get thinner, I burst the surface like a new-born child.
I roll to the other end of the bed to check my phone waiting on the bedside table. It’s the large green suitcase actually. I use it as a table. It found a perfect place. The time shows. And a few messages. My window to the other side. Canada. It’s my little brother. They got the house. Is he more adult than me now? I look at my green vessel. The dark stains on the corner from conveyor belts. My eyes shift to the tired blind. I tug on the string and it rolls up, singing loud screeching sounds. Sun pours in. Like when I’m whispered to myself, mind shapes more parts of me, visions ahead get clearer.
Five steps and I’m in the kitchen. I make myself a bowl of cereal. I miss baking banana bread. The warm smell spreading throughout the house on a Sunday afternoon… Blueberry muffins too. This apartment doesn’t have an oven. My sister tells me I should get one of those toaster oven things. And have it out on the counter.
I’ve been making it out just fine without one. I don’t know why I’d buy something if I’ve been able to survive without it. But maybe I should buy a house. Fifteen years ago, I thought I’d have kids and a house by now. My love for the unknown is insatiable. It still takes me by surprise at times. How far I swim. Or maybe I'm just scared to walk the line. How did he do it? I love cereal though. Especially when the milk is super cold. I don’t need an oven. As hot air rises from the road, I cross oceans like a snake in the sand.
I get ready for work and hop on my second hand bike. The wide roads like highways leading to great plains of discovery. The cityscape; home to growing greens taking over impressive cement boxes and imposing asymmetric structures standing against time. My sister dancing on the world’s biggest stage. That’s why I moved to Berlin. To breathe. I cross West to East to work shifts at a pizza restaurant. I cycle through visual archeology. Still the words from my phone imprint my mind: We got the house! Somewhat overwhelming. Too bright, it pains the back of my eyes. I get to the restaurant and there’s already a line up of hungry people, like curious animals approaching a roadkill carrion ready to consume. How can one buy a house and live? Bank loans and mortgages. A plan for the future. Like when I’m shown the stars, voice grows to colour my real, shades of my skin get thicker.
Is moving to another country any different? I don’t want to own a house. When I’m forty-five perhaps. It could also be nice. The fine line between inner dreams and social expectations like eyes of a cat dawning through the dark night curtain. It’s hard to tell. I wouldn’t trade my bike for a new one. Who would want to steal this one? As life wrinkles upon me, I’m more real like words in a book.
Riding home. The wind curls my hair. I’m a speck from the other end of the world making its way. I’m surfing. The setting sun washes pink everywhere. I have dinner for one in my basket. Margarita. People place an order and forget to pick it up. This remains a mystery to me. I get free food and waste less. I know there’s going to be that sweet spot of sunlight in the corner of my apartment. I want to get there before it disappears. Like when I'm erased from before, body breathes to live the change.
I make it right on the dot. I warm the pizza in the frying pan. A cheap beer in hand. Picnic in my tiny pad. I’m lavish. My mind is at ease. I pick up the phone and send little brother a message. I’m proud of him. So much pride it is blinding. I’m also proud of my green suitcase. This is what I own. Sweet breeze flows in. The sky gets darker and I hear the black birds sing. Thoughts only get truer, as senses awake themselves, I create my own like water carving drops.
Rafaël Barnwell is an emerging poet, writer and artist. She is a French Canadian from Montreal and writes in both English and French. World traveler and people lover, she strongly believes that sharing stories is an essential part in inspiring others and ourselves. Today, Rafaël lives and writes in Berlin.
Website: www.rafaelhbarnwell.com Instagram: @rafhart