“Excuse me, can you just take my photo please?” Simone always tried to pick someone with a family. Usually the mother, because she is a woman too and may have sympathy with a woman travelling on her own, but sometimes the culture dictated that she approach the man.
“What is that?” The picture almost always confused them, but they did not always ask. At the Eiffel Tower, she had received a single, high eyebrow. At Big Ben, the picture had been passed to seven other travellers, and consequently who knows how many blogs now featured Simon.
Simon was Simone’s ex. Their break-up may have been inevitable, given the ridiculousness of their names. And both their surnames were the same – Stephenson. She’d always joked that they should get married just so they could be Mr and Mrs Simon and Simon Stephenson-Stephenson. And name their kids Sophie, Sally, Steven and Saturday.
However inevitable the break-up may have been, it was not well timed. Ten o’clock the night before the wedding and two days before they were to leave on their round-the-world honeymoon, Simon had called. They had walked to the oval. He talked, she cried and smoked. Then he left. He was going to cancel his ticket. He was a little surprised when she said she was still going. She was glad they were due to wed on a Thursday. It meant the banks were open, so she went in and withdrew their savings. Screw him. Perhaps the woman he was about to move in with would have to pay for him for a while. Simone no longer cared.
So, she was taking the world trip for revenge. She was spending the money they’d saved together, and every major landmark she reached, she had a photo taken with a picture of him. It was not a good one – he’d been hung over and tired, and looked a bit green. She’d blown up his head to life size and stuck in on a 30cm ruler. By now, he was a bit torn around the edges, but he was still recognisable.
Simone didn’t know if she was over him yet. She’d been travelling for almost four months. All she knew was that she still had almost six thousand dollars, the US dollar was at parity with the Aus dollar and she’d always wanted to try gumbo in New Orleans.