Make a list of items in a character’s suitcase. From the inventory, create a plausible picture of the character’s habits and position/situation in life.
The compact suitcase is made of a tough, white leather and unzips to display a tangle of shimmering, clingy, white clothing and a shock of khaki-coloured cotton. When removed, the cotton cadet’s teeshirt sends an appealing male scent into the air. With its removal comes the discovery of something large and Perspex tangled in the clothing and which catches the light. The items rest on a bed of perfectly folded clothing in the palest possible shades of mottled gray and cream. When effort and logic are exerted it is possible to extract what turns out to be a pair of eleven-inch platform heels from the orgy of skimpy, white dresses in such tiny sizes. The shoes have clear, plastic uppers and a slit in each sole which is accompanied by glittering, white, block capitals demanding: TIPS. There is something within the right shoe and several moments of puzzled staring are rewarded with the discovery beneath the ornate ‘5’ of a discrete ribbon on the shoe’s instep which, when pulled, provides access to the Perspex platform’s innards.
Raiding the suitcase’s compartment produces: a flexible pair of white canvas, rubber-soled, white-laced shoes; three bottles of white nail varnish –pearlescent, metallic, and matte; a pair of white earphones with nothing to attach themselves to; an ornate, white lighter stuck to a roll of masking tape; a white-handled razor and a gleaming manicure set ensconced in more white leather; a jar of ivory make-up; a holographic pencil tin filled with foil-wrapped contraceptives and a number for a gay man’s clinic; a number of dog-eared sketches; three stress-balls; and a CD in a paper wallet bearing the legend: WATCH ME.
Obeying the CD places a slim, teenage girl onscreen. With an awkward expression as she holds the camera up to encompass herself she says, “Hey beautiful. I know you’ll have gone away again when you watch this, but I wanted to remind you that we all love you and love to have you around. And that you can make friends with all sorts of people, because I know you get worried about that sometimes. So… this is just for you to watch… when you’re lonely… or when you miss us… or when you need reminding that we really want you around and to come home.”
The video is full of photographs and shorts of the personalities captured in the drawings. One of the most notable moments occurs at 63:05 when a skinny little blonde in a white tunic laughingly attempts to juggle the three stress-balls until the camera gets too close; causing both her and the slender girl from the start of the video to fall to the floor where they lie snickering until the blonde reaches out for the camera. “How do you switch it off?” The blonde turns the videocamera over in her hands, exposing a quick shot of heavily scarred skin and a longer moment which focuses on an intricate tattoo on her skin. At first glance it is a male name written backwards but a fresh look produces a female name written between the bold letters. “You still can’t use my cam? Give it here you dumb blonde.” There is a smile evident in the voice and a moment later more skin pushes against the blonde’s, bearing a similar tattoo with different names. A hand rests on the blonde’s body and a moment later “You press this button” prompts the end of the video.
The matching tattoos and the friendship jewellery that snapped together magnetically when the friends were tangled on the floor hold as much importance as the much-loved sketches of much-loved friends and the love poured into the CD. However the brief glances of albino zebra forearms and the compartment with the lighter, masking tape, razor and gleaming manicure set that resembles nothing so much as surgeon’s tools, say something quite different. Likewise the CD creator’s indication that the white-clad girl has a tendency to take off for periods of time gives the skimpy clothes, stripper heels and abundance of contraceptives a more suspect air. Just what does the owner of the white suitcase do to support herself during those times when she disappears?
The CD gives a greater understanding of its owner but does not quite tie up everything. The CD indicates its owner is sentimental enough to keep a lover’s teeshirt but there is no soldier amongst the many faces burnt into the disc. The impeccable folding of the clothing at the bottom of the suitcase also contrasts starkly with the chaotic mingling of white costumes and shoes. Paired with the canvas shoes, the folded clothes look like the perfect morning-after outfit. They are highly comfortable, require little effort to slip into, demand little attention of anyone’s eye, and can be worn to walk out any door at any time in the morning. They are equally suitable for wearing whilst running down a corridor.
Points the CD cannot satisfy are the blonde’s choice to retain the number for a gay man’s health clinic rather than an ordinary sexual health clinic; or her predilection for the colour white. What can be said of the ‘tip’ within the right shoe? What does it say about her?