The Tourist

The Tourist
[March 2019, Challenge - Round 2]

“Lovely isn’t it?” says the tourist with his camera aloft, holding it steady. The shutter clicks in rapid succession. "I’ve traveled here many times before and the view never disappoints me."

I see it differently. It was never sunny, though I’d been here on the clearest of days. I usually came here after those rough days. Today, I had to lecture about my transition. Living it was one thing. Explaining it to students was another. Sometimes, I wonder to myself if it was worth it.

The tourist turns the lens of the camera to me. A quick shot.

He lowers the camera and scrolls through the images he’s just captured. “This one’s my favorite so far. Don’t you think so?”

He holds the camera by the lens with the screen pointed towards me. The image is of me staring wistfully at the bay. The golden afternoon glow casting a warmness on my face. There’s a smile on his face and a sense of pride in the image he preserved.

“I’ve been here dozens of times over the years,” He says as he lowers the camera. “I don’t know why, but there’s always someone like yourself who stares sadly at the bay.”

I raise my sunglasses toward my face. Hoping that the interloper would allow me to just have my moment alone.

“Don’t do that, Miss.” He implores. “Not on my account, it’s too perfect to hide behind the shades.”

“Excuse me?”

“The view…” he gestures with a wave of his free hand. “You can’t just filter the light. You need to see what I see.”

I lower my shades, and he smiles.

“That’s it, now, here.” He again raises the camera offering it to me. “Look…”

Setting my sunglasses into my coat pocket, I grasp the camera, raising the viewfinder to eye level. The wide angle brings the entire bay into view. Intermixed with the now crimson sky is muted greenery and golden sands. “Lovely,” I say plainly. I begin to lower the camera.

“No, please. You have to let me see what you see. Here, raise the camera.”

I raise the viewfinder once more. Frame the shot and capture the image. I lower the camera and turn to offer it to the tourist.

He grins and retrieves his camera. “Beautiful.”

“If you don’t mind me asking,” I look up to meet his gaze. “Why did you have me take the photo when you clearly have many images already?”

“See that?” He shows the image I had just photographed.


“I’ve always wondered how anyone can look at that and be sad.”

“Maybe it’s not the view. What if people come here because they are sad and want to raise their spirits?”

“Then, why do they still leave unhappy?” He retorts.


“You know what I think?” He lowers his camera to his side. “I think they’re waiting.”


“Take you for instance.”


“Yes, as I’ve said, I’ve been to this spot dozens of times over the years.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand what that has to do with me.”

“You’ve been here off and on for at least the last 10 years or so? Though, you were different before.”

I retreat.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to worry you. It’s just, I’ve seen you change and well; still you look sad.” There was an undeniable earnestness in his eyes.

“You know what I think?” the tourist poses.

“Didn’t you just tell me?”

“I think you are waiting for someone.”

“I’m not waiting for someone.” I scoff and begin to turn away.

“Now, hear me out.” He reaches for his camera and scrolls through the photos until he reaches the one seeks. He holds up the camera. “You’re waiting for someone to tell you it was worth it.” On the screen is the photo of me.

“If you’ll indulge me with one more photo?”

“Fine” I relent.

“And could you do one thing while I take it?”

“You’re not going to make me do anything weird are you?”

“No, nothing like that.” He raises the camera to eye level. “Can you say, ‘It was worth it.’ for me?”

I smile, “It was worth it.”

He opens the shutter and smiles. “Now, it's perfect.”

I’m still smiling, the first time in as far back as I can remember.

“I guess I won’t be seeing you here anymore.” He says sadly.

“Why is that?”

“Because you’re no longer waiting.” He says sadly.

I smile wider. “I have to go.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Erin Stewart,” I say with a smile.

"Nice to meet you. I’m Ryan Collins."

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This story is 810 words long.