the curse of the purse

Design by Emily Hu.

Image Description: A padlock-shaped purse with a keyhole in its center lies against a pink and purple background. It is surrounded by scattered items such as combs, wallets, keys, hair clips, mace, candy, makeup, earbuds, jewelry, and prescription medications.

i hate purses. purses are cumbersome, restrictive. purses are the tense ache of your right shoulder, knuckles anxiously tightening over a straining strap. purses are the rhythmic thud of cotton or canvas or corduroy on hip–like a pendulum, hammering hard angle into tender curve. purses are 11th birthdays: the swallowed disappointment of peeling away dry, flimsy wrapping tissue, when you’d rather be ripping through impenetrable layers of Hasbro plastic. purses are a drooping heaviness, collected with age.

at first, purses are the rattle of embarrassingly clunky keychains and cyan breath mints—an acceptable substitute for the gum that defiantly wiggles into the crevices of your brackets. soon, they are the clinking of keys next to the adult thrill of a hand-me-down phone, no cell service. eventually, they are the heft of a flimsy wallet made of coins, paired with yellowing chapstick and a foldable, spiky hairbrush. by the time they are weighed down with pads and painkillers and mascara and mace, you really hate purses.

you find yourself jealous of your brother, who never needed a purse. he has pockets.

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