Authors: Kate Klise
Tags: #Fiction, #General
In the Bag
Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their locked and upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. Thank you.
Table of Contents
Dear Ms. 6B,
Please forgive my clumsiness while boarding. I would be more than happy to pay for the cleaning or replacement of your blouse. Truth is, I would be even happier if you’d let me take you to dinner sometime when we return to our side of the pond. That is, if you do plan to return to the U.S. (For all I know, you could be Parisian. You have That Look. )
I saw the problem as soon as I unzipped my black duffel bag. There in two neat piles sat clothes that were definitely not mine.
Colorful new T-shirts (size S). Ironed jeans. (
Who irons jeans?
) Flip-flops. High-heeled sandals. A skirt. A gypsy-looking blouse thing. And flowered underwear and bras.
“Oh, God,” I said again, this time out loud and with a low groan.
“What’s wrong?” Dad asked. He was walking out of the bathroom wearing a hotel robe and drying his hair with a towel.
“This isn’t my stuff,” I said.
“What do you mean?” Dad replied.
“This bag,” I said. “It’s not mine. I must’ve picked up somebody else’s bag at the airport.”
Dad sighed. “Oh, God, Webb.” As always, it sounded like
A half hour before this conversation, we’d checked into the Palace Hotel in the heart of Madrid. Dad had been hired to design an exhibit at a nearby contemporary art museum. The show was scheduled to open in two days, which meant Dad would be busy with work and I’d be free to spend my spring break urban hiking. That’s why I’d packed my favorite boots.
And now what did I have? High-heeled sandals, a gypsy blouse, and bras.
“What do I do?” I asked, sitting on the bed on my side of the hotel room.
“Call the airline,” Dad said. “If your bag’s still in Paris, they’ll put it on a plane and get it here. We can ask, anyway.” He didn’t sound encouraging. “Is that your backpack?”
“Yeah,” I said, kicking the green nylon bag at my feet.
“And did you have your other bag when we went through Customs in Paris?”
I tried to remember. I’d slept for most of the flight. I was barely awake when we went through the Customs line.
“They didn’t open my bags,” I recalled, digging through my backpack in search of my cell phone. That’s when I remembered.
“Oh, no,” I said.
“I think I left my phone at school.”
Dad sighed again, this time louder. “Do you have your baggage claim ticket? Or your boarding passes?”
I rummaged through the pockets of my jeans: gum wrappers, a dime, a dusty Tic Tac. “I don’t know.”
Dad walked over to the desk chair where he’d thrown his jacket. He emptied the pockets.
“Here,” he said, holding up a fistful of papers. “So at least we know what flights we were on. American Airlines flight 854 connecting to flight 42. Then, Air France flight 1600 from Paris to Madrid.”
“Uh-huh,” I mumbled.
“And of course,” Dad continued, “you had a tag on your bag.” He paused. “Webb, please tell me you had a tag on your bag with your name on it.”
“Yeah,” I said tentatively. “I think I did. I mean, I’m pretty sure I did. Wait. Did I?”
“Oh, God, Webb.”
“What’s wrong?” Mom asked from the bedroom.
She’d been nice enough to offer me the bedroom, but I really did prefer the futon in the living room. All I had to do was open the wooden shutters and I could look out and see Paris.
I’d been waiting for this moment for months. For Christmas, Mom had given me a black duffel bag from L.L.Bean filled with Paris guidebooks. I’d spent much of the flight from Chicago highlighting all the things I wanted to see during my spring break.