Another excerpt from Secrets of a Handbag
Handbags had always held a particular fascination on me. When I was a kid, my mother used to wear such big bags, and there was always some kind of surprise to be found in their recesses.
When we weren’t at home, and I couldn’t play with my toys, my favourite pastime was digging in my mother’s handbag. I’m not sure I knew what I was searching for.
But what really inspired me to write this story was a short movie I watched a few years later. It showed a young actress at a casting. The producer, thinking she is the owner of the handbag hooked behind her, asks the girl to go talk about the objects inside.
The young actress does a beautiful job in making every object (a packet of cigarettes, a postcard, a biography, a train ticket) fascinating.
When the audition ends, the actress goes away, leaving the handbag behind. The producer thinks she forgot it, but then realises it wasn’t her handbag. Finally understanding the genius of the girl, capable of creating stories for the content of a purse she had never seen before, rushes after her.
That short movie planted the first seed for this story. What if a handbag could talk? What kind of stories and information a person finding a bag could gain from its content?
Mine would undoubtedly give away that I’m a writer (so many pens) and a reader (there’s always a book in there). Moreover, it probably shows I’m a paranoid ready for every possible event (from medical emergencies to climatic catastrophes).
And Elisa’s? What would it reveal?
I’ll leave you with just a touch of the Handbag, just after she’s been left on the bus by its owner.
Excerpt from Secrets of a Handbag
If nothing else, no one has called in a bomb threat yet. That’s a plus.
To tell the truth, nobody seems to have noticed me, which is unforgivable. It’s true I’m not designer or even eye-catching, but this is an insult.
In case you still haven’t caught on, I’m a handbag.
To be precise, I’m Elisa’s handbag.
I was born several years ago in a little craft workshop. I remained a few months in an old dusty storefront window, from which I could see only the doorstep of the barber shop on the other side of the street. After a while, I was bought by an assertive old lady who packed me like a salami. A few days later, I found myself between the hands of a young girl with an air of shyness, big eyeglasses, and a lost look. At first, she didn’t seem enthusiastic about me, but her grandmother had hit the target.
Elisa hasn’t left me since then.
You know, I’m not one of those handbags fit for little girls. I’m made of leather with a lot of big and little pockets and a good golden zipper. I’m not eye-catching, I’m not the latest fashion, but I’m classic, resistant, and have a strong shoulder strap. Sturdy and adjustable, I can contain the unbelievable.
I’m nothing like the handbags you see nowadays—tiny and colorful, shiny, labelled with some designer’s signature, and absolutely useless when it comes to keep something inside them. You should hear what they say! They spend their time comparing their logos and little engraved plates with famous names. They made their charms and small chains clink and they are so… boisterous.
Those of my kind are cut from a different cloth.
And now all my glorious handmade tradition lies with me on the dirty bus floor, waiting for the inevitable, unavoidable sole to step on us. Besides, the entertainment offered by this predicament is very limited—numerous pairs of shoes and a lot of graffiti on the wall. Things like—
V. I love you. P.
Is it me who drinks alcohol or alcohol who drinks me?
Mum forgive me.
Not the highest kind of literature.
What’s going on?
These damn drivers don’t care about their passengers. They just toss us around. Fortunately, Elisa always remember to close my zipper, otherwise my contents would be scattered at the feet of this stranger by now.
“Excuse me, madam!” This is the stranger screaming. “Madam, you’re leaving your handbag behind.” The guy picks me up from the floor.
“But that’s not mine!”
The way the lady says “that” makes my shoulder strap crinkle. As if I was a crumpled plastic bag. I can’t see her very well before she gets off the bus with a vexed expression on her face, but I’m sure she is the kind of woman who buys useless micro-bags.
The stranger looks around, searching for my true owner, but when nobody claims my ownership, he looks at me with the look of a sad puppy.
He looks like a nice guy. Nearer to his thirties than his twenties. Not handsome, not ugly. He’s wearing a blue good-guy sweater under a sporty windbreaker jacket. From my low position, I had the chance to intently observe his worn but clean shoes.
The crowded bus makes a long turn. Many people get on and off at every stop. Feet of every size pass me by—men and women, sneakers and fancy high heels, shiny black leather pumps and working shoes, loafers and ballet flats, boots and, even if it’s freezing cold, a few fearless sandals, sometimes with white socks inside.
The stranger who found me gets up. He’s probably near his destination. His gaze lands on me. It looks like he’s thinking hard about something.
Hey! What are you doing?
No, leave me here!
You look like a very nice guy, but if you bring me away, I’m not going to reach the lost and found at the bus depot and Elisa will never find me.
What if your handbag could talk?
What kind of secrets would she reveal?
What shameful truths would surface from its recesses?
What if a stranger found it; how would they look at it?
And if the handbag is very opinionated, things may become even more complicated.
When Elisa—student and bookseller—leaves her handbag on the bus, her life takes a dramatic turn. The handbag holds every aspect of her life, and without it, she can barely manage even the simplest of tasks.
Diego, a pragmatic, no-nonsense chemist who dislikes complications, finds Elisa’s handbag. He couldn’t be more different from Elisa and can’t wait to return the handbag to its owner so he can go back to his life.
When Elisa and Diego meet, however, things don’t go as planned.
And while Diego tries to keep his distance, everyone (the handbag included) seems determined to put Elisa on his path again and again.
The only ones who don’t seem to agree are Lorena—Diego’s ex-girlfriend—and Marco—aspiring journalist and Elisa’s boyfriend…
Secrets of a Handbag will be available in all the major online stores on September the 20th.
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