In the corner between Calle larga and Calle dei Fornai, Julia discovered one late afternoon the Compassion Fountain. A human figure appeared momentarily in the air in front of her, before the water disappeared in an opening in the building on the other side of the street. Not a drop fell on the ground. She turned right and looked at the fountain. It had an oddly shaped faucet and when she got close enough, she could see different tubes inside. A light turned on above the faucet and, when Julia looked at it, a quick jolt of water drenched her face.
Move away, dear, said an old man standing in a window above.
Julia dried her face with her sleeve.
Stand back a little and observe what comes out of the Compassion Fountain. There you are, the man said.
The light turned on again and a new jolt of water came out of the faucet. A face appeared in the middle of the calle, just above Julia’s head. It was a balding man, smiling. It disappeared quickly and Julia followed the water in the building on the opposite side. She waited until the light turned on again. A new face appeared and Julia felt she somehow recognized the girl’s face, but she could not tell her name. She waited again and an old woman appeared. All of them were smiling. The water came upwards fast from the fountain, almost stopped in half-air and fell in the opening, faces recognizable only for an instant, when the water seemed to freeze. Julia stood there for almost an hour, until she remembered she had to be home for dinner. When she came home she told Gaia and Kristen about the fountain and on that night, and in the days that followed, she drew a number of the faces she recalled from that day.