Since I’ve been posting a lot about writing lately, I thought I might share a short fiction vignette I wrote recently about a woman who gets her phone stolen at the moment she takes a selfie.
O the humanity!
The vignette takes place in Paris.
I hope you enjoy!
“An Unposted Selfie”
I have one arm outstretched above my head. I position the phone so the dark glass smeared with fingerprints displays a grainy image of my own face peering down at me. My left side is my best side. My left cheekbone is more defined. Clutching the clunky device in my left hand, I turn so I’m standing at a three-quarter turn on the grass, away from my outstretched arm. I raise my free arm to my face and take off my dark sunglasses in a quick swoop, holding them lightly in my free hand, careful not to smudge the lenses.
I look back at the reflection of myself and tilt my head to the left. The skin around the corners of my eyes creases. I’ll always have these wrinkles because I always have. These lines remind me to smile often because I was born to. I think I am fortunate to have large eyes. They are brown on my driver’s license and passport, but I know a rim of dull green surrounds the amber irises.
The nose reflected back at me on my phone looks large and roman even at this three-quarter angle. The bridge of my nose starts narrow under my eyebrows. It rounds out between jutting cheekbones like a slowly sloping hill. I wouldn’t trade this nose though, because it’s mine. I wear a light beige liquid concealer along the sides of my nose where the skin is red. The drugstore makeup blends into the contours of my face, invisible to the phone’s lens.
I turn the corners of my mouth up in a casual, knowing smile. My lips stretch over my teeth. I wear a long, periwinkle blue cashmere scarf wrapped once around my neck and tied at my collarbone. The scarf covers the bottom half of the image the phone reflects back at me.
Just over my right shoulder the Eiffel Tower squats on its four stumpy legs. I prefer to witness the masterpiece’s imposing minimalism–fluid and metallic in the noonday sunshine, as naked as the girders underneath a bridge–through the sterilized reflection my phone’s built-in camera produces. The base of the Eiffel Tower is perched there atop my shoulder like an iron parrot.
Satisfied with the blasé look on my face and the way my shoulder-length chestnut brown hair falls over the dense, coiled nest of the scarf, I press the button on the side of the phone with my thumb several times. I hear no clicking sound.
Before I have a chance to meticulously check the images, the phone vanishes, snatched from my hand. I turn like a top and watch a man in all black, wearing the kind of leather I actually like, running past the grassy open area into a street congested with pedestrians. He doesn’t look back.
I swallow hard, not quite believing what’s happening. My throat is so dry with shock I can’t even scream for help. In broad daylight, my phone is gone. My phone is gone? My phone is…gone? My entire life is on that phone: my contacts, my photos, my texts. Oh Jesus, my texts are on there.
It is like losing an extension of oneself, having one’s smartphone stolen like that. It is like someone stealing a prosthetic leg. Really? You had to take the leg? Take the purse and the wallet, but the leg? The phone? The computer? Really? I feel as exposed as a bare flagpole in winter. But even as I despair, my mind spins, rationalizing the loss. It’s OK, I tell myself. All your contacts and photos are backed up on your computer. They have an AT&T store in Paris now, you’ve been told. Your warranty covers this. You’re alive.
Before I hail a cab I stand there in front of the Eiffel Tower gazing at its iron stumps, iconic in a photograph but rather different in real life.