Shopping is a religion


Portia burst through the heavy glass doors of Saks with a toss of her new Giverny-blue Kate Spade handbag on her right shoulder, nearly prancing. She was overjoyed that Sven hadn’t yet thought to cancel her credit card, the one that she had flashed at the handbag counter to make her dream of the moment reality.

Portia skipped out onto the sidewalk with her new robin’s-egg–blue, satchel-shaped handbag on her shoulder and caught a glimpse of her reflection in the plated glass of the window, her perfectly coiffed hair just catching in the breeze, her sundress clinging to her curves, her new shades adding that certain je ne sais quois, she thought in French. I’d fuck me, Portia thought in English.

Portia made her way to a café and used Sven’s credit card to treat herself to an iced tea and a pastry, which she nibbled bewitchingly at an outdoor table, her legs crossed femininely and her new handbag displayed prominently on the wrought-iron table. As she nibbled, Portia began to consider her future. Sven’s credit card would not last forever. As she nibbled, Portia admired the 14-karat-gold hardware on her new purse and admitted to herself that she was a horrible person.

What kind of a girl steals from her ex-boyfriend, Portia thought with a flash of clarity. She sipped her tea and felt hot tears in her eyes. She watched the other girls parading along the thin strip of sidewalk, their legs gently brushing Portia’s table. Each girl carried a stunning handbag on one arm and a stunning boyfriend on the other. Why can’t I have both, Portia asked herself with a little whimper. She examined herself in the translucent glass once more. I’m hideous, Portia realized. She saw her dyed hair with its frizzy ends, her fake-red lips, her nose that was too big for her face, and she let the tears fall behind her shades.

Truth was, Portia missed Sven big time. He was hot, he was kind. Portia liked being his girl. Sven, you asshole, I can’t replace you, she argued with him in her head as she picked at the last few crumbs of her pastry. She wiped her hands before running her fingertips over her new bag. She unzipped it a little and stuck her overly large nose inside to savor that new purse smell that she loved so much, but not as much as she loved Sven. I’m a wreck, Portia admitted to herself, a bit surprised. She wasn’t used to experiencing such deep feelings. She reached into her purse and retrieved a tissue, which she surreptitiously used to wipe her tears.

Portia stood, hung her new purse from her elbow and in an uncharacteristic move of self-awareness, lifted her plate and glass to return them. After depositing the dishes inside, she wandered down the busy sidewalk, slowly now, and thinking only of Sven. One block past the café, Portia tossed Sven’s credit card into a trash bin. Two blocks from the café, a young man suddenly appeared in front of Portia. Appeared, she insisted later that afternoon, on the phone with her mom, appeared out of nowhere.

The young man appeared, Portia was certain. One moment no one was in front of her, then – Poof! – there he was. Tall, thin, and shaggy, she described for her mom, later. He had none of Sven’s fastidious good looks. In their place, Portia said, was a dark jacket, too heavy for the weather, a nice leather cross-body bag, thick frames, and an expression of utter and complete wonder. The expression really got to Portia, who was still overcome with self-hatred and desperate longing. What could possibly be so great, she wondered angrily.

For a moment their eyes locked: His dark brown, hers blue, and infinity passed between them. Portia, unaccustomed to the sensation of genuine human connection, looked down and noticed a flashing remote control in his hand. Yes, a remote control, Mom, she insisted, later. I think I know the difference between a phone and a remote, seriously, she insisted. A moment later, he disappeared. Disappeared, Portia emphasized, later. These things happen sometimes, sweetie, her mom comforted, later.

The moment after he disappeared, Portia lifted her sunglasses to blink at the empty sidewalk before her, replaced them with a shrug, and tossed her lovely new handbag over her shoulder. Just like that, she felt beautiful again. Just like that, Portia forgave herself. She never looked back, she just kept walking.


Another little visit from the lovely and oh-so-alluring Portia for this week’s Speakeasy.

24 thoughts on “Shopping is a religion

  1. This is so good, Christi! Love Portia’s self-reflection and the way her mood changes like the wind. Great job with the prompts! 🙂

  2. “I’m a wreck, Portia admitted to herself, a bit surprised. She wasn’t used to experiencing such deep feelings.” Brilliant! This was great and I love the hints that there is something more to her than meets the eye.

  3. I too, liked her moment of conscience and clarity. I liked how you introduced the device into the story. How the guy appeared and then was just gone…like she imagined him. Interesting take on the prompts.

  4. I love this: “… her new shades adding that certain je ne sais quois, she thought in French. I’d fuck me, Portia thought in English.”

  5. “For a moment their eyes locked: His dark brown, hers blue, and infinity passed between them.”

    I can’t help but think he’ll be back for Portia. Perhaps they have already met in his past and her future.

    Very nicely written.

    1. Thanks. Haven’t you ever had that experience with anyone, where you looked at each other or touched or something, and it was like you’d always known each other?

      1. That has happened to me. There was someone I first saw in a group setting, and I felt like I knew her. After the group event was over, she came directly up to me and nobody else, as though she knew me too. And we were instantly friends, although I don’t think we had ever actually met before.

  6. I like how you described the details of the purse and the rest of Portia’s appearance, so we can tell that’s what she’s been devoting so much of her brain power to. 🙂

  7. What an interesting character going through such an interesting transition. I’ m happy for her actually. Maybe she started off pretty shallow, but she grew very fast. I guess something crazy had to happen in front her to trigger this change, and perhaps a genuine love did most of the trick. I really enjoyed this story and this very detailed character sketch.

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, EagleAye. I’m definitely still thinking about Portia and her little run-in with the device guy. Stay tuned…

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