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There’s no one here to take an unguarded photo of me biting on a hangnail while staring at the screen working out a better word for ‘broken.’

Please Now Submit an Author Photo, .JPG Preferred
Photo by Antoine Beauvillain / Unsplash

by Sumitra Singam

I’m looking for the one of me at the park on that final Saturday, with my head thrown back, the sun shining through my hair, making it look bronze. That was before the kid had chucked a tantrum, and there was still the promise of afternoon sex fizzing in the air. When we got home, we spent all our time grabbing dangerous kitchen implements from the kid trying to get her to eat; and then we spent the night cleaning yogurt off the walls.

There’s nothing on my phone except shopping lists, and pictures of my parked car, and a million photos of the kid. And look at those chocolate-covered cheeks, I do love her, I do.

Then I realise you took that photo, so I text you asking you to send it to me, and you text back,

“What laughing?” Hopefully meaning, ‘What park?’

And maybe that one isn’t the best for a story about the breakdown of a marriage anyway. Perhaps I’d better choose one of the several hundred the kid has taken of me–here’s one of me from kid-height chopping veggies, a garland of carrot peel around my feet–it’s captured my double chin well, and the bulge above my waistband. Perhaps that continues the tale better, this sense of how I’ve let myself go, can’t even cook properly, making a huge mess just assembling a salad.

There’s no one here to take an unguarded photo of me biting on a hangnail while staring at the screen working out a better word for ‘broken.’ (Cracked, demolished, defective, shattered, disintegrated).

I wonder if I could send them a picture of the sea, you know, roiling, with depth, almost black on a winter’s day. But really, out my window is the view of my neighbour’s wall, and the telegraph pole. Would that show how trapped we feel here, since you left, getting our shopping delivered and venturing only as far as the park down the road for a quick turn on the swings?

Unsplash has hundreds of photos of typewriters, and the same blond man in a blue blazer, smiling confidently as he scribbles his next bestseller. I can’t connect to that at all.

In the end I send a photo of my hands. Ragged cuticles, I’m Not Really a Waitress peeling from my nails. They’re what’s done it all–the writing, the breaking, the holding. They’re the author of this story. Remains to be seen how they’ll end it.

Sumitra writes in Naarm/Melbourne. She travelled through many spaces to get there and writes to make sense of her experiences. She’ll be the one in the kitchen making chai (where’s your cardamom?). She works in mental health. You can find her and her other publication credits on twitter: @pleomorphic2.