Mina Cicconi, Toronto, Canada
“When I took this photo, I was at the Public Library, flipping through some picture books, and sipping on the large latte I smuggled in from underneath my hoodie. I had just come from Bulldog, my favourite little coffee house in Toronto. It’s off the beaten path, where I can always count on the man behind the counter to compliment my hair and costume jewelry. On that particular day, I made no extra effort. Not a stitch of makeup. My hair in an angry tangle. But I left with my latte in hand and my confidence head and shoulders above where it should have been.
I continue on to the library, make it through the turnstile, climb the stairs, and pull some picture books from the shelf. I look to my left and then to my right. The coast is clear. I drop everything, pull the cup from underneath my shirt and smile at the heart that’s still in tact.
I feel small as I peer at the giant stack of books piled in front of my single-seat study carrel, and I thumb through a book about Annie Leibovitz. In the background, my ears are tickled with the sound of some incessant tapping. My head turns and my eyes follow the noise to some teenage boy holding a pen. He taps out a dent in the cover of a closed text book. Beside him, a friend plays air guitar in their two piece band. I’m tempted to pull out my hairbrush mic and join them as the singer, screaming out some teen angst anthem. But I can’t sing and I don’t know any songs they’d recognize.
Out of nowhere a librarian swiftly rounds the corner and scolds them with the loudest ”shhhhhhhhhhh” her inside voice can strain. She glares at them and their intrusion on this place otherwise owned by silence.
So caught up with the boys and their noise, the librarian completely misses me sipping away in plain view.”