There are no photos anymore. It’s seems strange to think that once we even photographed our food, our shoes, our selves. Tiny made up records of our lives. Carefully curated memories. Shared with strangers the world over. Made videos that lived and died on a server, a snapshot of your views, your days, your arse. Liked and loved and corresponded without words at all just symbols.
It was fine too, recording everything as this place turned slowly into perilous paradise, while trying to avoid the other images on your feed. Brazil burning to the ground. Sahara spreading and surrounding African cities that succumbed rapidly to desertification. Ignoring Paris drowning slowly, the Louvre submerged and history destroyed piece by piece. It was comical initially, watching swimming in the seine but when the waters didn’t subside, when temperatures didn’t drop, everything changed. Then everything stopped. Ireland ourselves alone. It seemed like a bad joke. I try to stay out of the sun.
I still carry my old phone, battery long dead, storing thousands of moments that I stole or forced from life. Sometimes I long to sit idly flicking through 20 variations of the one picture to find that perfect look. Editing life to make it covetable. Colours brighter, everything vibrant and eye catching. Heighten that idyllic sunset. Crop the blemished bystander in the bad coat from the profile of your life. Deleting anything that didn’t fit the performance. Life as a portrait.
A familiar feeling washes over me I’d thought I’d forgotten and I take out a battered iPhone, screen cracked and just hold it. Most people keep devices like relics. I know I should stop carrying it around with me. A useless piece of ancient technology.
I never kept photos in my wallet. That was a thing old people did. Not that we need wallets anymore but still I’d like a photograph. I see people sometimes in the camps linger over treasured pictures, they are always alone, sometimes it seems that they only exist on paper, that they aren’t really here at all.
On a board outside the village, there are thousands of pictures of missing people, pinned with tacks, and mouldy bits of tape, the oldest images battered by the elements, bleached out by the sun, smiling happy faces lost all over again. Often I find myself standing there staring up at all these unknown, giving them pretend lives, loves, deaths, because no one has ever taken a person from that board. No one has ever been found. I was going to be a photographer. I think about the images I would take more often than I should. I let my mind wander more frequently than is safe. I check my phone again. Stomach pains flare. Hunger cuts me open. There are no photos anymore.
OLIVIA FITZSIMONS is a northerner living in Greystones, County Wicklow. Takes her feral children to the woods often, swims in the sea and loves to get lost.
Shortlisted Sunday Business Post Penguin Short Story Prize 2017
Shortlisted Retreat West Flash Fiction Competition 2017
John Hewitt Summer School Bursary Winner 2017
Image: via Pxhere