The Purses
Zachary Doss

Your boyfriend has a room full of handbags, which you are not allowed to enter. You have always been particularly annoyed about the room full of handbags because after all there's a whole room in your apartment you're apparently not allowed to use because it's full of handbags. This is how you phrase it when you argue with him about it, there's a whole room in my apartment I'm apparently not allowed to use because it's full of handbags.

You try to explain to your boyfriend the other uses you might put that room to, and really, you can imagine all sorts of things. We could have a private exercise room, you say over dinner. We could have an office, you say as you walk your dog around the park. We could fill it with fish tanks and have a fish tank room, you whisper into his ear at a friend's cocktail party. It goes on like this, with you proposing alternate uses for the room: library, greenhouse, spare bedroom, yoga studio, second kitchen, second living room, racquetball court, art gallery, movie theater, indoor swimming pool, sauna

Your boyfriend is always carrying a handbag hooked in his elbow, a clutch held at his side, or a tiny backpack over his shoulder. Your boyfriend has the most fashionable handbags. He has the expensive kind and the really expensive kind, a gleaming crocodile leather Birkin, a pristine white Chanel that you are pretty sure has actual diamonds in the clasp, an ugly limited edition Louis Vuitton designed by some woman you have never heard of. He has the less expensive kinds, too, the kind your mom used to buy at Macy's, the Michael Kors and the Dooney & Burke and the Coach. The regular bags he carries every day to work and parties and the gym. The expensive bags you rarely see, although he often spends hours alone with them in his handbag room.

You have always wondered what the inside of the handbag room looks like. You are not interested in the handbags but you burn to walk inside that closed room and witness the alchemy of them all arrayed together like hieroglyphs. You dream that it is beautiful, each purse a jewel carefully placed on labeled glass shelves. The light from the window floods the room and refracts through the glass shelves, each handbag reclining in its warm little sunspot like a cat.  In your dream you weep because the handbag room is actually heaven. In your dream you open the diamond-encrusted clasp of the white Chanel and you crawl inside, curl up, and rub your cheek against the pink silk lining. Inside the white Chanel purse is a smaller purse covered in black feathers, its provenance unknown to you. The clasp closes behind you but the lining seems to glow with light from the outside. In the pink darkness, you wait for your boyfriend to find you where you know you do not belong, clutching the smaller black purse to your chest and gently stroking its silky feathers.

Despite your persistence, your boyfriend seems uninterested in the non-handbag potential of his handbag room. When you say, finally, that it might be nice to have an extra room for a nursery, just in case, he rolls his eyes at you before taking another gulp from his glass of wine. He doesn't say anything more, but you understand that the discussion regarding the room full of handbags is officially closed.

Zachary Doss has work in or coming from Puerto del Sol, DIAGRAM, Paper Darts and others.

Read his postcard.

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