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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: The Purse
By Shannah Hogue


The woman at the next table began to search for something in her purse just as I sat down. The food court was filling up with Saturday shoppers taking a break from their materialistic treasure hunt, but it wasn’t packed yet. I dropped my own two bags next to my purse on the chair, said a quick prayer for my food and took a long drink from my bottle of water.

I could clearly see the smorgasbord of restaurants as well as the information desk and the grand walkway of the mall. The two-storied atrium in front of me was well lit from the skylights above, and the scurry of people in front of me kept me distracted for a few minutes. There were hundreds of people streaming past the coffee place strategically placed in the center of the mall. One thing is certain…there is always an abundance of people -- and chaos -- at the mall on a Saturday afternoon.

A cry from the woman on my right drew my attention from the sea of people. She was blond and obviously well-to-do, and she was sitting in front of a small store’s worth of articles piled on the table. Apparently unable to find whatever she had begun looking for when I sat down, she had emptied her entire purse onto the table. I looked in amazement at the small black purse sitting on her lap, and then at the pile of miscellany which she had pulled from it. Was it truly possible for that potpourri to fit inside her purse?

There was a small clutch purse and checkbook. I saw two pairs of sunglasses, fingernail polish, and a gold watch. She had at least 3 emory boards (that I could see), two bags of tissues and a small bottle of eye drops.

Her glad cry which had drawn my attention had come with a final item: a cell phone. She pulled it out hastily and with great joy, but unfortunately, her movement sent half of her table-top pile onto the floor. She slammed her fist on the table, sending more of her copious pile to the floor, and muttered something under her breath as she stooped down to pick them up. Quickly I moved over to help her.

My curiosity was further piqued as we quickly retrieved her belongings. In the pile of plentitude, I also saw at least 3 tubes of lipstick, a compact, some lip gloss, a small pair of folded scissors, what might have been some stamps, and a multitude of folded papers, old receipts, hastily jotted notes, and one long paper which was covered in phone numbers.

We finished picking up what had fallen on the floor, and I returned, with her thanks, to my table and my lunch. Reunited with her cell phone, she picked it up, dialed a number off her paper, and, when it connected, began chatting. Then, while talking, she began to slowly refill her purse. I was hoping to be around to see her stuff it all back in, but by the time I finished my lunch, the pile on the table had been only halfway reduced. Slightly disappointed, I picked up my bags and tray and moved away, drawn again into the swarming mass of people. I glanced over my shoulder at the woman still seated at the table and shook my head. Who would ever have guessed the abundance that could overflow from one small black bag?

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Member Comments
Member Date
Stefanie Noonan06/15/06
What were you doing peeking into my purse??? Accurately portrayed. We are all too materialistic! Funny. Stef.
Phyllis Inniss06/20/06
This is so good and funny. You have sketched a very interesting picture of quite a few well-to-do and idle women.
Helen Paynter06/20/06
Nice little cameo piece - well described. My handbag looks a bit like that!