The concerned, caring husband stretched his arm out to protect the dignity and respect of his wife.
“Step back please,” the husband orders whilst his hand is still raised, palm facing the overly curious tourist.
“Give the lady some room” A family member uses both arms to wave the small but intrusive group back a little, who are stopping nearby. “There’s nothing to see, and there’s no need for photos.”
Sat on the bench, a stone’s throw away is Mario, he’s on holiday from the Philippines. His hand had instinctively gone towards his backpack as he saw the lady go down, but the concerned urges of the family had stopped him whilst unzipping the side pocket.
Mario himself was a family man, two lovely teenagers that had grown up to be good responsible adults. It hadn’t been plain sailing, particularly since their mother had died. He’d had to take on an extra part time job, taxi driving. That was in the evenings after he’d finished at the restaurant waiting tables.
Mario took a small water bottle out of his backpack, unscrewed the top and took a large mouthful of water. It was a hot one today.
“What happened to her?” Imelda asked her father as she took the space on the bench next to him.
“Did you buy what you wanted, where’s Gulio?”
“He still hasn’t made up his mind yet what he wants. What happened here, Dad?”
The lady was still lying on the bench, protected from the sun’s rays by the thick foliage of the trees that lined the city’s main tourist shopping area. This place was a magnet for tourists, with countless air-conditioned shopping malls and restaurants. She’d left the hotel in a rush that morning, just grabbing a couple of croissants from the bakery stand. Her husband had encouraged to take a more substantial breakfast, but she didn’t want to delay the family any longer from their first day of sightseeing.
“Dehydration I think. It’s so hot out here in the sun. There probably not use to the intensity, haven’t taken on enough liquids and now the Mum is lying on the bench.”
“Ever the caring Dad!” She squeezed his arm, and they exchanged smiles. Imelda remembered how diligent he’d been in those terrible few months of her mother’s illness. It had come on so quick, and then she was gone. A tear appeared in the corner of her eye.
“Is she going to be ok?”
“She’ll be fine.” Mario stroked his daughter’s arm. “No need to worry, when she recovers a little strength they’ll get her into the air-con. She can cool down, eat and drink something.”
“You see that man over there wearing the blue polo shirt? He’s holding a selfie stick.”
Imelda saw him. He was with his own family, but he didn’t look very happy. He was in some sort of deep conversation with his wife.
“Well, he and his wife were walking behind the women when she suddenly went faint and her husband caught her before she hit the ground. As the husband and the other elderly man were helping her to the bench, our man in the polo shirt was attaching his smartphone to his selfie stick. The elderly man brought it to the attention of the husband, and he wasn’t best pleased. There was a small altercation, and the group of onlookers was moved on.”
“Are you alright Dad?” Imelda could sense her father was a bit unsettled.
“I’m fine. Ever the caring daughter!” He put her arm around her. “No, you see I was also just about to grab my phone and take a photo. The husband’s reaction stopped me. Then, I sat here and thought how I would’ve reacted had some opportunist tried to take a selfie or photo of your mum when she was sick. You remember the time when we were all walking through the park and your mum had to rush behind the bush to vomit because the medication was messing with her digestive system?”
Imelda nodded, that was a painful memory.
“How would we have felt had some complete stranger decided that your mum’s pain and suffering was a great backdrop for a photo?”
They watched the husband slowly lead his wife across the pavement, out from underneath the shade of the tree through the automatic doors to shops, restaurants and a bottle of water.
The basis for this story came whilst I was travelling last year, and I was shocked to see someone using another person’s pain as a time for a selfie. My memory was jogged this past week by an article in The Daily Telegraph newspaper. The article had a link to “The worst places to take a selfie.”
Hope you enjoyed the BiteSize Fiction with a Creative twist.