In the Bag
by Kit St. Germain
It’s the smallest purse that hangs off my master’s belt. Room, you’d say, for a silver coin or a beetle bug. But in my time, I’ve seen Master pull out bigger things — a book of names, a pot of nut paste, twins.
Why, one time, in the streets of Pisa, we were accosted by a gang of toughs in red stockings. They had spiked clubs and they demanded my master’s purse. He said to them, “Empty it, by all means, but leave an old man his humble bag so that he might gather a coin or two in future.”
The thieves, they set upon the tiny bag, and I could see they were struggling to get at a big wodge of gold that choked the opening. While they argued, trying to get the ingot out, snatching the bag one from each, my master muttered the old pes petrat sinistrus and turned each man’s left leg to stone.
He did it to make me laugh. He does that if he thinks I look frightened. The pes petrat always shakes me out of it. That and the Cacate florae acicularae — that’s the one he put on my old owner. Made him shit flowers every time he had a cruel thought. He won’t be starving anyone else or beating them with their chains or stepping on their beetle.
The Cacate doesn’t wear off like the pes petrat.
I asked Master if it was a matter of wishing: does the bag give out what-all you want. But he said, “No Figlolo, all the things in the bag are things I have put in it over time.”
“What, twins?” says I.
“Well, he says, “they did come in handy.”
True enough. That barren dame he gave them to, she wept for joy and gave us a sticky honey tart as big as my head. I still dream of that tart.
“Start feeling now, boy,” Master says to me, “what you will put in your bag. That is how you will shape your future.” With that he takes the small bird out of his beard so that he will not crush it, pulls his cap down over his eyes, and lies him down on the hay. We are in a barn for the night.
A cat is gone evil, staring at the tassel on Master’s cap.
I put myself between them to break the spell. I am about to lie down when I notice there is a small pouch, exactly like Master’s, that hangs from my belt. Master is already sleeping. His purse sits where it always sits. His wide smile flaps loosely with each breath.
Start feeling now, boy, what you will put in your bag. That is how you will shape your future…
My heart soars. What I should put in my bag? I could put in a honey tart. Sun-yellow cheese like we had in Aleppo. It was so strong it made my gums itch– that’s when you know you’re eating something.
All the things my master collected had led to other things. He was able to call me Figlolo, because he had collected a book of names, and I had none. Twins had led to a honey tart. Gold had only brought thieves.
I look around.
The cat? No; that can only end in mice, or witches.
What would give me greatest happiness in my future?
And there he was. When I was near dead, he saved me, and fed me. When I am afraid, he cheers me. He has brought me only happiness. Carefully, I took my new purse and slipped it over Master’s toe, marveling at how it swallowed the greater object. His foot followed. Bit by bit I put Master in the bag.
Tomorrow I shall look for a new beetle.
Kit St. Germain has been published in The Wheel (the pagan not the automotive) Magazine, Twilight Tales, Susurrus’ Press’ Neverlands… anthology and thrice in Strange Horizons. She does cartoons for a living and has recently published a book of other (much admired) authors’ work entitled, “Escape Clause.” She is writing a novel and relishes the swift high of short fic.
Story © 2010 Kit St. Germain. All other content copyright © 2010 Abyss & Apex Publishing.
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish