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 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.