Home > A Closet of Inanimate VOICES, A Parlour of Southern VOICES > Nettie’s Purse – by Melissa McEwen

Nettie’s Purse – by Melissa McEwen

Nettie’s Purse

by Melissa McEwen

Nettie is a character and so is her purse. This is a silly short story I wrong a long, long time ago – probably seven years ago.

Nettie’s Purse

Nettie has only one purse. It is big and brown and bulges. Nettie keeps some of everything in that purse. It is not a lie.

If James, the always-fixing-things-boy down the street, needed a screwdriver because he didn’t know where his had got to, Nettie would reach down in that magic hat of a purse of hers and pull one out. And if James said, “Naw, wait, I need a wrench,” she’d have that, too!

Nettie has some of everything in that purse and everybody knows it. Sometimes, when she is busy in the pantry or the bathroom, and some neighbor or some relative is sitting in her kitchen, they might ask, “Nettie, you got fifty cent I could use?” and Nettie would holler, “My purse is on the sofa; I know I have some change in there somewhere. Dig through it.”

One time her neighbor asked, “Nettie why do you have a knife in your purse?”

Nettie said, “In case someone has an orange to cut …”

Another time Nettie’s aunt Demetra asked her, “Nettie, why do you have buttons in your purse?”

Nettie just laughed. She has needles and thread (from buttercup yellow to dark green), too, in that big, brown purse.

And what a big (and heavy!) purse it is. When she got on the bus the other day, she knocked a lady over with it and the lady shouted, “You got a sack of flour in that purse or something?”

“She just might,” said a man that Nettie knew (he was drunk at the time. He is always drunk) and the whole bus erupted with laughter. The bus driver was choking from laughing so hard.

“She’s got a radio in there, too,” the drunk man continued, “and the Bible.”

“And a pail of holy water!” the bus driver added.

“She got everything in that purse. She’s going to put Marty’s Supermarket out of business,” a young girl chimed in.  Her mother, laughing, tapped her hand and said, “Be quiet!”

“I should have made you pay fare for that purse,” the bus driver laughed.

And all the passengers had tears coming out of their eyes and streaming down their faces from laughter.

“Nettie, now I know you got tissue in that purse,” said the drunk man that knew Nettie.

And Nettie, of course, reached down in her purse and pulled out a new box of tissue. She handed the box to the closest person to her and it was passed around. While the people dried their eyes and blew their noses, Nettie pulled out a magazine and read all the way to her stop.

“That purse is going to kill somebody one day,” another man said after Nettie got off the bus.

“Can you describe the suspect?” the bus driver asked.

Someone in the back yelled out, “Yes, I can, sir. Let’s see, she was, uh, big and, uh, brown!”

The people on the bus roared with laughter as the bus rode on.

“Ah, that purse is going to be famous one day,” the bus driver said, but nobody heard because everybody was laughing so loud.

But laughing doesn’t bother Nettie none.

Everywhere she goes, the purse goes, too. Nettie is always dragging that purse around, lugging it around as though it is a baby too old be carried and should be walking.


  1. May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I’d sure like to meet Nettie and her purse. I believe in being prepared too, but damn, that’s an amazing assortment of things, down to green thread. I always carry a pocketknife too, just cause you might have to cut an apple or orange — precisely! Glad Nettie came round here with her big brown purse. Now I’m laughing too. Will have to post something in response soon, thinking on it already… 🙂
    -The Fud or some other variation of her, or someone entirely new, perhaps — there are a few other Characters in that Elvy’s head but she’s got to let them free…

  2. mcewen75
    May 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I can’t wait Elvy’s characters to be set free, then they can hang with Nettie and her purse. Nettie’s purse is too damn big; it’s a damn shame, but she won’t give it up for nothing. Even if it breaks, she’ll use duct tape to hold it together.

  3. mimmcewen
    May 17, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Enjoyed reading this, Missy. Great storytelling. The purse is a character, too! I love it.

  4. May 17, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Duct Tape is a character in itself. I will wrap my arms around your world and hold it together…

  5. missy
    May 17, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Imagine a purse with a role of duct tape in it and duct tape to hold it together. Nettie _would_ do something like that.

    Nettie knows someone that could use duct tape to hold her world and her mind together.

  6. deepee10
    May 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Loved this. It makes complete sense and the story is wonderfully told:in case someone has an orange to cut.That’s so pure. A terrific read and it begs to be read aloud to a group of friends. Good solid work. Excellent.

  7. mcewen75
    May 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks deepee!!!!

  8. Eddie
    May 18, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    You should come over Marzy’s granma’s house some day and tell this story aloud around the table to them,like deepee said. Marzy is my ga. .er the woman who Eddie, me, is her guy. They would laugh so long and hard that like Marzy says, not me now, her “they woulda but dinnit a dropped their trousers but they were wearin’ skirts”. That’s Marzy – truth hidden within a cloud of words. Great story telling.


  9. mcewen75
    May 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks Eddie. And I would love to visit Marzy’s gramma’s house and not only tell this story but to listen to any stories they had to tell because Marzy and them seem like they have a buncha stories to tell. That Marzy has a way with words.

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