When Freyja came out of the washroom three people stood in front of a large bulletin board on the wall to the left of the door.
“It’s so tragic,” the woman said. She took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes with the knuckles of one hand.
“I can’t imagine it,” said the older of the two men. A grey ponytail swayed from the back of his shaking head like the wagging tail of a dog. “How could they shoot into a crowd of unarmed people? I mean, how could they?”
“Makes you want to get a fucking gun and shoot back,” said the other, younger man, his words jumping out of a bearded face.
Six photographs clipped from some newspaper were pinned to a bulletin board. The main subjects weren’t positioned properly for effective dynamic tension, but despite their technical shortcomings they ...were her photos!
“Those are my photographs.” Freyja moved in close. Below a handwritten banner that read, They died for democracy”, were six of Freyja’s photographs of the demonstration shootings.
“Horrible aren’t they?” said the woman.
“Those are my photographs. I took those pictures.” And they were good. So good Freyja could smell the cordite and wet pavement, was again in the presence of the dead and bleeding.
“You took those pictures?” The woman replaced her glasses and studied the text under the pictures. “You’re Freyja Brynjarrson?”
“Yes.” Freyja’s face felt flushed, her breathing shallow. “Where did they get my pictures?”
“Let me be the first to shake your hand,” said the older man, ponytail now totally out of control. “The RCR says you were injured by a ricochet.” His eyes went to the scab on her hairline. “Jeez.” His mouth stayed open.
“Right on. Another fighter against fascism.” Smiling white teeth appeared from the face of dark hair.
“Do you know where I can get this paper?” Freyja said. Surprise, elation, confusion, and now anger – she’d scrolled the emotional spectrum in seconds.
“Hey, this is Freyja Brynjarrson, you know, the photographer,” shouted one of her new comrades. “Does anyone have a copy of The Raincoast Record?”
Someone handed Freyja a copy. Her photograph of the mother sitting on the wet pavement cradling her wounded daughter filled the front page of the “alternative” newspaper. The only text other than the paper’s banner across the top, was the headline “Troops fire on demonstrators – six dead”, anda short paragraph across the bottom that ended with Photos by Freyja Brynjarrson, MORE ON PAGES 4 AND 5. In print the images appeared stark and terrifying in their legitimacy.
Freya felt loss. Not for the victims, that was different. Her work, the experience, the control, it was no longer hers. Is this how parents feel, when grown children begin to find their own way? They conceive them, nurture them, want the best for them but once set free their babies chose a direction, an interpretation, a life the parents may not agree with.
Freyja headed for the office, paper jammed under her arm, head down. The praise and recognition felt phony and undeserved - right place, right time, nothing more until she overheard someone say, “You could have been killed.” She’d never thought of that before, hadn’t even been afraid, didn’t consider herself brave.
Marty had left a hand-written sign on the office door that read “Do Not Disturb”. She tore it off, threw it in a ball on the floor. She needed space, silence, time to process. She needed to consider what The RCR had published and how they got the material to publish it in the first place.
Marty burst into the office. “Free–”
“You manipulating son of a bitch.”
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