On a street outside the flea markets, Zelda stopped in front of a wall covered in graffiti. “Take one here,” she said, and posed herself winking, blowing a kiss to the camera, jutting out her hips. There were some Algerian kids smoking in the alley, looking over at us.
With her frozen in the pose, I looked over at them – as though for approval. They burst into laughter. The fat one covered his mouth with his hands and doubled over.
“I’m not taking that,” I said.
“You look ridiculous,” I said. “It comes out like shit in the camera.”
I didn’t know if the Algerians could hear me disagreeing to take the photograph, but they were now laughing – I think at Zelda, still frozen in that position. She was wearing a white dress, a white hat, and white netting that covered her face, and the stark white seal of her stood out wondrously from the brash nettle of graffiti, from its reds and golds, its searing stars and bubbled letters.
“Take it,” she said. “Just here, just like this.”
“I can’t,” I said. “I’m having a creative crisis.” With that, I put the camera back into its case and didn’t take it out the whole trip; it felt embarrassing to me to even be the one with a camera – albatross of not belonging, albatross of the outsider.