I step off the platform and onto the subway. The doors shut, and when I look around, I notice all the people on board are the most radiant older women with the most beautiful handbags.

They all turn and eye me, up and down, in unison, as I step on.

Thank God, I have a nice new handbag in tow.

Their eyes widen in approval, and a lady in crisp navy and white stripes nods for me to sit next to her.

I’m not as young as I used to be and a little disappointed how life hasn’t loved me back the way I thought it would by now. But I feel her warmth towards me and weirdly, I feel accepted immediately in a way I’d never been before.

As I take a seat, all the women smile and snap their fingers and then all their handbags open their mouths in the same way baby birds open their beaks to be fed worms by their mother.

The handbags begin to speak in the most beautiful languages I cannot understand. The most striking blend of words I’ve ever heard.

The women begin to sway and some begin to dance and I am not sure if I should stay seated or join them.

The lady in crisp navy and white stripes snaps again, and my handbag opens its mouth but accidentally spills out all its contents: tampons, a stick of gum, a bunch of change, an empty tube of lipstick.

Everything stops. Like Freeze Tag.

Then all eyes on me.

Ah, oh! I have ruined the moment.

But then lady in crisp navy and white stripes eyes beam with satisfaction.

All of the women’s smiles brighten the subway car and embrace me like a big hug.

My smile is so big, my teeth show.

Then the train stops. The handbags snap their mouths shut like a choir of snapping turtles, and the women adjust themselves and straighten the fabric of their clothes with their nice handbags in tow.

I hurriedly cram all my shit back into mine.

I want to be one of them or maybe I am. But one thing is for sure, I have never felt so alive.

“It’s worth it to spend a little extra on a good handbag,” the lady in crisp navy and white stripes says.

We all step off the train and into the cruel lighting of the subway station, no longer radiant, but rather shabby and out-of-date like discarded library books, and head towards the dullness of the day.

But our handbags glisten in the trail of our wake.

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About the Author

A recipient of the Tennessee Arts Commission Literary Fellowship, Sheri Bancroft lives and works in Memphis, TN with her musician husband and tubby ticked tabby cat.

Sheri Bancroft
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