The Magic Purse
by gina below
I was so small that my legs would not bend at the knees and my feet stuck out straight over the edge of the church pew. I was so excited I could not sit still and so I clicked my Sunday shoes together repeatedly. A hand moved over from my left and patted me on the knee and my feet stopped their movement and I looked up into her smiling face. I smiled back, I could feel myself biting my lower lip and it made my smile crooked and that made her smile even bigger. She reached out with her arm and gathered me closer to her. I gladly scooted next to her as she was one of my favorite people and she was unquestionably safe. Afraid that I would giggle out loud I put my fingers to my mouth and started biting my nails yet again. I was being allowed to sit with my Aunt Vera all by myself.
I had promised that I would be good, and I so desperately did not want to disappoint her, but it was so hard to contain my four-year-old self. I wondered how in the world I was going to manage this; surly I would not be able to make it to the end of the service without causing some sort of mayhem. I balled my little hands up into fist in my lap wadding the skirt of my dress up as I did so. I had just learned how to whisper and everything and this new knowledge would come in so very handy now. If only I could just remember to use it. I would just have to try extra, extra hard. But being loud was something that just came so very natural for me, I guess, like brown hair and freckles.
I suppose she sensed my inner struggle because that was when I noticed that she had taken her purse from between her and Uncle James. She sat it between us so very unceremoniously that I looked up to her with what must have been a confused look on my face, and she smiled yet again. Then she did the most amazing thing, she opened the clasp and the magical smell of Wrigley’s Gum wafted out and I felt my eyes go wide. Wow! My hands went to my mouth again to stop myself from speaking out loud. I watched as she pulled out a bright green wrapper and handed it to me.
Gum was not something I was permitted very often for it was never a good combination. Somehow it always managed to wind up in my hair, or stuck to my clothes, or in the floor, or possibly between pages of a book. Gum and I were a disaster waiting to happen. I’m sure that it had everything to do with my excessively short attention span. As I unwrapped the bright green wrapper to get to the shiny foil, she tried to smooth the wrinkles out of my dress front and then she stuck her hand out to receive the discarded outer wrapper. My little fingers trembled as I removed the shiny foil wrapper, but she did not rush me, her patients were never ending. When finally I had gotten to the true treasure her hand reappeared to again receive the discards, which she promptly put in her purse of wonderful smells. I put the confection in my mouth and began to chew; I then looked at her to smile my thanks. I was rewarded with yet another brilliant smile and a finger in front of her lips to remind me to chew quietly. I may have just learned to whisper, but chewing soundlessly was still eluding me. I smiled and continued on with my new joyful interlude.
Ten long and tedious minutes (or was it seconds) passed and I began to fidget. My shoes began clicking together of their own accord and my finger got stuck in the chunk of hair I was twisting around and around it. I was beginning to wonder if I could put my feet up on the back of the church pew again like I had last Sunday. But that had gotten me taken out of the service by my Mother and if memory served me correctly it had not been pleasant. So I probably should not do that again today. And I recalled my Mother saying that it was not very nice to show your big girl panties in church or anywhere else for that matter. So I stretched my arms out big and exaggerated and yawned.
It then occurred to me that my gum had lost all of its flavor so I took it out of my mouth to inspect it as if glaring at it would make the sweet sugary taste reappear. This was usually the critical time for the gum and me, the time when strange unexplainable things would happen to it. Once I had witnessed it flying across the room to land in my sister’s hair. Another time it had hidden itself in my brother’s back pocket and for the life of me I could not figure out how it had gotten there. It was a complete mystery.
She saved me yet again by producing a Kleenex and pointed at it for me to put the used gum into, and then it disappeared safely into that wonderful purse. She then moved it out of the way and patted her lap, which was the universal sign for “Would you like to take a nap?” I was a bit tired, I had done so very much that morning and trying to be quiet was so very, very exhausting. So I laid my head in her lap and sighed as she began to smooth my hair back away from my eyes. So that’s where my Mother had learned that particular talent from I thought to myself as my eyes closed. I sure did hope I would get to sit with Aunt Vera again soon. As I drifted off to sleep, I wondered what other treasures she might have in that magic purse.