There are stories that stick with you. One of those, for me, is a story I remember reading a really long time ago, about a magical handbag with a world inside, that someone’s relative or friend disappears into, never to be seen again. The handbag is somehow lost, brought to a consignment shop, and the image of the main character and her friends spending the rest of their lives searching through Goodwill after Goodwill to find the lost handbag and rescue their friend is one that has stayed with me for years.
I recently tried to find that story again. I’m currently writing a story of my own that uses a similar plot element, and I wanted to be sure that they weren’t too similar. From what I remembered of the story, I was sure it was a Charles de Lint story, and so I started searching his short story collections and the internet for any mention of it.
But here’s the thing: According to Google, the story didn’t exist.
A few weeks after finally giving up the fruitless search and starting to actually work on my story instead, I went to the library and picked up a copy of Kelly Link’s short story collection Pretty Little Monsters. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, and just have never gotten around to. I opened it up in the library, and there, in the table of contents, was my lost story. It wasn’t a Charles de Lint story at all; it was called “The Faery Handbag,” and who knows where I read it because I don’t remember ever having read a short story by Kelly Link.
I took the book home and I reread the story. It was kind of the story I remembered. And it was kind of not. The story I remembered was partly my own creation, made up of my memories of the true story and what I thought could or should have happened in it.
The story I am writing is about memories. It’s about a girl’s Grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, and the stories she tells. It’s about the power of memories and stories to create new worlds, to preserve and to heal and to change things.
It’s strange, I had written in my story, the things you remember, and the things you don’t.