The two girls had the day off in Milan and they were visiting art galleries.
"I don't get that one," said Milla. "What's it all mean?"
Isobel looked at the giant stainless steel cube with the umbrella and the decoy ducks inside. "There's a plaque...let's look at it," she said.
Milla cleared her throat and read the plaque out loud:
Tears for Everybody Looking at You. 1997
Isobel said: "It does make me want to cry. A little."
"Well, I don't feel anything. Maybe I'm looking at it all wrong." The girl walked to another place in the room and contemplated the work of art again. "Nope," she said. "No tears at all."
"Hey, let's get some gelato."
"I don't want gelato. I want espresso."
Outside there was a bottega that sold gelatos and coffee. Isobel ate the salted caramel with pistachio from a little cup while the barista poured Milla's espresso. There was an empty table for two and the girls sat down.
Milla drank the espresso in one go then set the cup down and crossed her arms.
"You okay?" said Isobel.
"Of course I'm okay. Why wouldn't I be okay?"
"You seemed a little off during the shoot this morning."
Milla said nothing. She looked around the piazza taking a good look at the young couples, and at the older couples with young kids. Then she said: "But why would anyone make a sculpture like that?"
"The one with the ducks?"
"No, the one with the umbrella inside."
"Milla, it's the same one."
"Why would anyone make that? Isn't crying a private thing? Why make it public?"
"You sure you're okay?"
"I told you already, I'm fine."
Two young Italian men approached the girls.
"You're beautiful," they said in very broken English. "Very, very beautiful."
The girls thanked them politely.
"May we take a photograph of you?" said the Italian with the analog Leica.
"Sure," said Isobel with a smile.
Milla also smiled and got close to Isobel to be in the shot.
The Italian pressed the shutter on his camera and thanked the girls and left with his friend.
"You sure you don't want any of this gelato? I think I asked for too much."
Milla looked at Isobel.
"What is it?"
Milla said: "Don't you get tired of it all?"
"You mean Milan?"
"I mean Milan, Paris, London, New York...Don't you just get tired of it all?"
"For real, tell me, what's up with you?"
The girl wiped a tear from her eye. "Don't you...I mean, don't you...get tired of being just beautiful?"
"There's no such thing as just beautiful, love."
"You wanna know what's really beautiful? You know what real beauty is?!"
"You are. We are."
"No! It's that damn steel cube with the ducks inside! That's what's really beautiful. But I just ain't smart enough to understand it and feel tears for it!" She sank her face in Isolde's chest and cried.
When she was done crying Milla looked up and saw the couples and older couples and the Italian horizon afar. "Look! It's Magic Hour!"
"Magic Hour is beautiful. Do you know why it's called Magic Hour?"
"It's because daylight is redder and softer and everything is good and fine."
Isolde then got her phone and took a selfie with her friend.
"It's beautiful," said Milla. "It's oh so beautiful!"
"I'll send it to you."
"Let's go back, can we? Let's get back into that gallery and see those ducks and the umbrella again. Can we?"
Isolde pressed Send and smiled. "Let's."
Merci pour la lecture!