Would have been (fiction)

The woman behind me is taking photographs of herself. On the platform at the metro station, she’s oblivious to the sheets of grey rain behind the glass and the occasional curious glances of passers-by. 

She’s using a Nokia, the older kind, not a smart phone like the one I have burning a hole in my bag - a Christmas discount - waiting to be opened and fondled, switched on and stroked.  

She aims the phone's camera at her face – click click, turns her head giving a wide smile – click click, now she juts out her jaw giving her best angle with a pout – click click. She stops, examines the pictures she’s taken, deletes a few and continues – click click

She loosens her scarf and uncrosses her legs, she wears impossibly high heels and they click against the station floor. Click click – I look down at my boots. 

Her phone makes the same imitation camera sound as mine. An intrusive, artificial recreation of the sound of an old camera as it took its designated thirty-six shots before its film had to be reloaded. 

I can’t turn it off though I’ve tried. Thus, I won’t take pictures in public, in quiet spaces where the sound may be heard and heads may turn. I don’t take photos where heads may nod and silently say “she doesn’t belong here.” 

All the photographs I would have taken, all the pictures I’d have emailed back home, picture upon picture – had I been able to turn off that silly click? The pictures would have told stories that words cannot convey. 

I’d have inserted captions – Me at Stockmann! Now at Kluuvi! Check out the Hilfiger shop!

The people I left at home would have been envious, they’d have imagined me bedecked in jewels and designer clothing. Instead of shaking their head –as they do now - clicking their tongues at the child they’d lost, now somewhere in Europe, somewhere very cold.

I wouldn’t need to reassure them in timed and calculated phone calls that, yes, I’m on my way. I’d have shown them in pictures all the things things that one day soon I will have. 

Image via Pinterest

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