It was snowing hard when Gaia, Kristen and Thom headed outside.
Thom looked around.
Does Julia take the Widow’s Bridge or the Mechanical Bridge on her way back?
With Julia, you can never tell which way she’ll take. Anything is interesting to her. I believe she takes a different route every day, said Kristen.
I’ll take the Mechanical Bridge on my way to the Lab and, if I don’t find Julia, will return through the Widow’s. You look around here. I’ll be back within an hour, said Thom.
Kristen and Gaia advanced slowly, their footsteps soon covered by the falling snow. Shops’ owners were shoveling in Campo dei Fiori, while the narrow, winding Calle dei Orbi had icy, slippery pavement. They found no sign of Julia. When she saw Thom back alone, Kristen’s heart sank. They walked together with him until late night, hand lamps pointed towards suspended bridges, icy steps, deep canals. Finally, they returned home while friends and neighbors continued to look for Julia.
In front of their apartment door they found plates of cakes and sweets prepared by unknown neighbors. Two ladies Kristen did not recognize were sitting on the landing, next to their shoes.
Please, come in and eat with us, said Kristen.
The larger woman smiled under her headscarf and shook her head.
We’ll stay here until your daughter returns.
Julia is not my daughter, but she’s like one. Please, said Kristen, pointing to the door.
Both ladies shook their heads. Kristen entered the door while Gaia brought in the plates of sweets, one by one. Later, Gaia returned with two plates of pumpkin and cinnamon soup.