After a long day at work, school, the factory, the office, the corner shop, you recline into the colorless fabric of your living room armchair and find something is wrong. You pace the floor, clean the dishes, flip open the books you've been meaning to read, trying to find something— anything to quell the rising swell of anxiety in your chest.
You have not felt yourself in a long time. Your sleep is riddled with nightmares— not the sort involving monsters or steep cliffs, but all the tiny embarrassing mistakes you could make in life. These nightmares remind you of stepping into the wrong class, being somehow late to work every day even though you leave on time, and spilling scalding hot coffee onto a customer. What seems menial is made horrendous in your sleeping mind.
So even as you flip on the evening news and let the day's events wash over you in a tinny metallic cacophony, you cannot shake the feeling of needing to run, to move, to be elsewhere. You pick up your coat from the rack, bag from the place you left it last, and your feet tell you that you need to go into the city. It could be nice, says your logical brain, to get out a while, get some fresh air.
Before leaving, you grab your camera, because you take some small comfort in holding onto life's fleeting moments in the images you snap. The control feels soothing, if artificial.
When you walk down the street, you inevitably arrive at the bus station and get onto the first one that bounces down the road. After flagging it down, you pay the driver and make way to your seat.
Before you sit, you spot three young women at the back. They don't speak. They sit with their gloved hands on their three handbags and look somewhere behind you from three identical pairs of white-rimmed plastic sunglasses. As the bus moves along, you feel their eyes on the back of your neck, not looking quite at it, but through it.
The ride did nothing to ease your unsettled state, but perhaps a good walk around the city will. The mechanisms in your camera whirr with every snapshot of architecture, sky, and city street. People with faces you won't remember walking past. You can go by your favorite shops, buy yourself something nice, but before that, you stop for a drink and pastry at the café, but you get it for take-away.
As you go outside and around the patio, your feet stop you. The three women are there, sitting at the café tables, and you catch a glimpse of their eyes behind their sunglasses. They are blank marbles, white and unseeing, but they look up at you from a thick book they had all been reading. Your heart sinks, and your hands shake as you hold up the camera. You take the picture without knowing why.
They give you three knowing smiles as if they have been expecting you for a long time.