It was turning out to be more significant evening than Alicia had expected. Paolo had accepted her cake and berries with a welcome kiss on both cheeks, and his daughter, Sophia, had hugged her closely around the knees. The look the child gave her at dinner, as Alicia shared stories about her Italian fountains expedition, was one of awe. Sophia asked if she could accompany Alicia on the next day’s fountain journey and ran to her room to get a piece of paper so she could give Alicia her phone number. This request was a surprise for Alicia to hear. While she was gone Paolo explained, with some temerity, that Sophia still missed her mother, gone now for two years, and, since Sophia was an only child, she sometimes clung closely to her Papa and worried about his own sense of loss.
Alicia was cautious about making a commitment too soon to the child. Looking for fountains in Italy had become her private pleasure and sharing the experience and the expectation might be too much, too soon. Giving up that privacy was giving up a part of herself. But, when Sophia returned with her piece of paper and called Alicia by name, the vowels spilling like water with the Italian emphasis on the final “cia”, she couldn’t help but smile and acquiesce to Sophia’s request. They would meet outside the Museo Nazionale Romano, near the Termini station, and decide which direction in the city they would go, looking for another fountain of Rome.