“Where did I just put that?” Aunty is well and truly annoyed now. She starts searching her bag.
The bag I suspect she put together in the 1960s because I remember it even before my time – and I am getting old at twenty-five. It is made up of a series of brightly coloured crochet squares and is ample enough to contain two large cats. It goes everywhere with her, sensibly looped around her head and across her ample bosom. This way it leaves her hands free for wild gesticulations while speaking in that authoritative voice of hers.
“Why can you never find what you’re looking for?” The plump hands are gesticulating now. The fat cocktail rings on every finger glint in the fading daylight.
I shrug my shoulders, try to calm the nagging voice of my OCD. I’m hoping – silently, although I’m sure my face is giving something away – that Aunty isn’t about to spill all the contents of her bag onto my nice clear kitchen counter.
I work in a fashion design team, helping one of the big stores create clothes that women actually want to wear. The job is sometimes too demanding, too stressful and I find myself ever increasingly worried about coping. But at the end of each working day – or night if it’s a long one – I always relish coming home to my uncluttered, highly polished, small city apartment. At home there is no one to worry about, just myself and my minimalist decor. Bliss.
She is now up to her armpits in her accoutrements and I’m wondering if the sack of a bag could swallow her whole. But, unfortunately, that is only fanciful thinking because she’s emerging with hands full of things.
Don’t drop them on my counter…
“There!” She gesticulates complete with whatever she’s holding. Though I notice a small packet of tissues, a multi coloured plastic pill organiser the size of a brick, and a ratty tissue with a post-sucked boiled sweet enmeshed in it.
Put them back in your bag…
“I knew that was there! But it wasn’t what I was looking for!” She stares at her things filled hands.
She lets go of the lot. But not back in her bag.
A groan escapes.
“What?!” Aunty looks up sharply. Her astute eyes eyeballing me behind the wing-tip spectacles.
I’m gesticulating now. With a quivering finger pointing at the horrific mess on my counter. My OCD is kicking up a nausea storm.
“What? Stop fussing Julian. You gays are all too sensitive.” She unloops the sack from around her head and off her ample bosom. Drops it on the counter too. “Oh that thing is heavy,” she sighs, “you’d think I was carrying around the kitchen sink!”
I nod in agreement.
“No need to be too agreeable now.” She snaps.
I nod again and she looks at my wryly.
“Well, there’s only one thing I can do now.” She says in a strange contemplative voice. One I’ve never heard before.
Don’t empty the entire contents of your rainbow coloured roomy bag on my counter.
I feel bile rising in my throat.
Simultaneously the bag and I empty.
“Good!” Aunty shrieks. Oblivious to my retching episode and the vomit on the kitchen floor.
I wipe my mouth with the kitchen towel. It’s one I designed with a peaceful motif of geometric shapes – black linear against white. I would like to hide in that design right now.
As I wipe up the sick from the floor I’m aware of her dangling something in an outstretched hand, in the periphery of my vision.
“Julian. Look what I have for you.” She says in a pleased voice.
I glance upwards and see a small dog collar. It is studded with black diamante, the leather black. I know it’s expensive because Aunty is never cheap. Why is she holding a dog collar?
“I know what you’re thinking. What’s Aunty doing with a dog collar?” She pulls something else from the mountainous pile of things. Waves it at me. The dog collar in the left hand; a matching diamante studded leather lead in the right hand. “What’s Aunty doing with a dog lead?” Her voice booms.
She then notices the sick I’m in process of cleaning up. “My dear boy, Julian! Let me help you there. I didn’t know you were feeling poorly.”
I wasn’t until you started emptying your bag.
She pushes me onto a kitchen stool and takes it upon herself to clean up. Then she stuffs everything from the counter back into the bag.
“There! All cleaned and tidied up, just how you like it.”
I – surely with pale face, anxious of what next is coming – just nod.
She drops the collar and lead into my lap. Gives me a suffocating hug. I am saved by the doorbell – air thankfully fills my lungs again. Aunty rushes to the front door.
“That’s Peter; I told him to bring your real surprise!” She announces from across the living room / kitchen.
The door opens and there is a flash of black fur as it makes its way to me. Aunty and the new visitor are forgotten while I reach downwards onto the floor to embrace the tiny dog.
It’s a girl and her pointed ears are huge. I decide to call her Joy. They will love her at work.
I’m laughing so hard, tears are streaming down my face. “Aunty, why didn’t you just put the Chihuahua in your bag?”
“There wasn’t anymore room.” Aunty replies.
Writing prompt: Where did I just put that?
Writing inspiration: Looking for the dog chews.
What’s a Chi Tale?: A short story or verse (under a 1,000 words) with doggy references.
Copyright Faith McCord 2016
Story and artwork belongs to Faith McCord who is the author and artist holding the copyright. This is not a public domain work. Worldwide rights.