• Karen Ruffles

Stephen's suitcase


I get asked a lot of questions about Stephen - why does he have eight arms ? Doesn't he give me nightmares ? Well yes, he did, in the beginning until I got to know him. This by the way, is Stephen in case you haven't met yet.


By far my favourite question came from a little old lady who visited an exhibition and enquired 'Do you think he's lonely? ' 


That one stopped me in my tracks - I was touched that she asked, it implied a concern for him, plus an expectation that I would know the answer. I do of course - he is, a little, but not in a way that you or I might understand. He doesn't have human thoughts or memories as such, more echoes and impressions, feelings about certain objects. Which is why he has his own suitcase in one of the cupboards.


As a way of explaining Stephen to new people I had made a physical file with various documents and artefacts describing his story and what it's like to be him. This created a pile of objects which were now most definitely his and when a friend showed me a wonderful article about suitcases belonging to asylum patients containing their most treasured possessions, that struck a chord.


One of the nicest things about this, asides from him having a safe place to keep his things (Stephen is very tidy) is that other people are giving him presents. The gifts he gets show a lot of thought, a consideration for this being that has occupied a corner of our minds.


Some are wonderfully tactile, some may serve a purpose for Stephen - I'm pretty sure he can still use items like keys, though modern gadgets would hold little interest for him beyond pretty lights. That said, I wonder about myself on that one sometimes.


Some I know he has a real thing for - spectacles in general hold a great fascination for Stephen. I have wondered if he maybe sees a little of what the previous owner, now long gone, once saw ? The marble I started this tale with is fairly self explanatory but what exactly is he going to do with a spoon ? 


When I find out I will of course let you know. As is right and proper, Stephen has his very own corner of my website all to himself. If you would like to join in our game or have a peek at his file, you can do so here. He won't mind, just remember to turn the lights off after you.


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Whitby, North Yorkshire

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