Pursey Galore and the Retail Cat Fight

Owing to some emergencies of the family kind and a nifty case of the plague, I got desperately behind in Purse Stories. Many, many apologies. But as story ideas for Megan, from Best of Fates, Hannah, from Peggy Ann Design, and Kristin, from Peace, Love and Muesli swirled round in my head, I wondered what might have happened if the three of them got together.

Perhaps it would have looked something like this.


It sat on a table, quietly winking out from between a tote bag with an impressionist painting printed on it and a patent leather laptop case.

She almost missed it. But a telltale sparkle caught her eye just as she turned, and her hand reached reflexively to shove the tote bag out of the way and see where the sparking was coming from.

Megan tucked a lock of red hair behind her ear and pulled the zebra striped sequined bag free from a pile of other handbags that were clearly lesser specimens. Nowhere near as sparkly, nowhere near as stripy.

She held it up and let it catch the light, grinning at the gaudiness of it all.

She was heading out for a night on the town. With friends and finery. There was nothing like getting dressed in tuxedoes and evening gowns and riding the metro to make people look at you and start wondering.

And Megan loved it when people looked at her and wondered.

She hooked the strap over her shoulder and moved to the next table, searching for other overlooked treasures.

A heaping pile of overcoats hinted at greatness, and there was always a chance of finding something in black latex. Megan hadn’t quite put the finishing touches on her best Mata Hari look and she suspected that a shiny, black trench coat was what she needed. She set down the heavily discounted down comforter she’d snagged from the bottom of a wire bin and rested the purse on top of it before digging into the heap of coats.

Hey, what’s that? Hannah asked herself. She was navigating around a woman bent on destruction in a pile of jackets when silvery sparkles winked at her from the floor.

She reached down and picked up the purse from where it had been abandoned on a pile of linens and surveyed it as she kept walking towards the housewares section. She rubbed her hands over the satiny finish of the back of the purse, but her eye kept going back to the dazzling shimmer of the zebra-striped print on the front. Could this be any more perfect, she wondered? The big game was this weekend, and if you couldn’t make some noise then damnit, you didn’t go! And she couldn’t imagine anything louder than this. This bag, in its sparkly stripy glory, was the loudest piece of apparel she’d seen in a long, long time.

She tucked the purse under arm and zigzagged around the other shoppers, trying to avoid being stepped on or run down by a stroller. She always suspected that people brought their kids to these sales for no other reason than the stroller helped part traffic for them. Some of those things were damned heavy.

Right on cue, a mom with a deranged look, a screaming toddler and a stroller that was clearly made by Chrysler bore down on her. Hannah saw them coming at the last second and dodged in between two T-stands of last season’s strapless gowns. Breathing in relief that her foot hadn’t been crushed she stepped back into the main aisle and continued toward the far end of the sales floor, never noticing that the sequined striped bag had fallen quietly to the floor behind her.

Kristin yelped as a mother and screaming child clocked her shin as they zoomed past her at breakneck speed in a stroller that weighed as much as military transport vehicle. She exhaled upwards through her hair and tried to think charitable thoughts while the sting faded. She limped sideways to step out of the main walkway in an effort to avoid further injury, and something glittered at her from the floor. She hobbled over to a silver and black puddle and picked it up.

All pain forgotten, Kristin laughed at the sparkly thing in front of her. Black, shiny, silver and stripy, she had never seen so tasteless an accessory in her life. She thought about the simple black ensemble she’d selected for the dinner party she was hosting this weekend. What would be better to add a little outrageous glam than this silly, spectacularly tacky handbag? She thought her menu through in her head, delicious hors d’oeuvres and scrumptious entrees…but yes, even those culinary wonders would be enhanced by a little feminine outrageousness.

She had to have it.

Done with the rest of her shopping, Kristin made her way back into the walkway to navigate the crowds to the checkout counters. She’d not gone three steps when she felt a tap on her shoulder and heard, “Excuse me!”

Kristin turned to see a redheaded woman with enormous blue eyes. “I think you have my purse.”

“I’m sorry?” Asked Kristin looking at the brown leather bag she’d owned for years.

“No, that one,” the woman said, pointing at Kristin’s gaudy find. “I set it down to look for a coat, I think you picked it up not realizing that I meant to buy it. I need it for a night out this weekend.”

“I’m sorry,” Kristin answered, “I wasn’t anywhere near the coats. I found this under a rack of evening gowns, and I need it for a dinner party.”

There it is!” Exclaimed a new voice. Kristin and Megan turned to see a woman with glossy dark hair and an expression that suggested she’d stick her tongue out at you as likely as anything else running up to the two of them.

“Can I have that back, please?” She asked, pointing the purse that clearly had magnetic powers.

“What?” Asked Megan and Kristin at the same time.

“That,” said the newcomer, gesturing at the purse again. “I dropped it. I’m taking it the big game this weekend.”

“No you’re not,” said Megan, “I’m taking it for a fancy evening out.”

“Neither of you is doing either of those things, I need it for a dinner party!” said Kristin who still had the bag in her hand and was ready to assert that possession was ten-tenths of the law.

“Pardon me, girls,” said a soft, tremulous voice.

The three women turned to see a tiny woman with hair so white it almost glowed and a spine curved with age raise her shaking hand at them. “Thank you so much for finding my handbag.”

Your handbag?” Asked Hannah.

“Yes, a gift from my granddaughter with questionable taste. But, since it’s from her and she’s the light of my life, I take it every where I go.”

The three women who had seconds ago been arguing looked down at the bag, realizing at the same time that there was no tag on it. Hannah looked at Megan who in turn looked at Kristin. They could insist on looking inside for proof, and the salestag could be in there as likely as anywhere else…

But in unison they realized the gracelessness of questioning a little old lady trying to retrieve a treasured gift, and Kristin handed the purse over to her. “Here,” she said, trying to sound pleasant. “Our mistake.”

The trembling hand took the bag and settled the strap on her shoulder. “Thank you girls. My heart would have broken if it had been lost.”

She turned and shuffled away from the three younger women, waiting until she’d turned a corner and was blocked from view by a large display of luggage before straightening her bag and tripling her pace to hotfoot it to the check-out lines.

She glanced back at the women whose prize she’d stolen. “Gift from my granddaughter! Ha! Suckers fall for it every time!”


3 Responses to “Pursey Galore and the Retail Cat Fight”

  1. Old people are such freaking liars. Oh, so very true.


    “Megan loved it when people looked at her and wondered” – you just get me.

  2. Ha! I am really glad I wasn’t the crazy driving the military stroller.


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