I had stopped the car at a red light when I saw them. Three laughing little girls of different heights, perhaps between three and six years old, with braided hair ranging from light to dark brown, and brilliant, white teeth. They were waving and shouting. Without knowing why, I recalled a few summer days when I was little and my uncle would put me and my cousins in the back of his brand-new 600 and take us for a ride that seemed to last forever along the unpaved road that hugged the river. The memory made me laugh and I gestured to the girls to come over. A second later they were sitting in the back seat of my car, suddenly solemn and well-mannered.
"You taking us home now?," said the tallest. I wasn't sure if it was a question, a wish or an order. I started the car slowly, suddenly nervous and uneasy at having them in the car, afraid they would get lost. But I decided to give them a ride and go only as far as the next traffic light, a short one hundred yards away. These streets were the girls’ playground, I told myself, surely they could not get lost a few yards down the road.
In the meantime, we had a very polite conversation, though lively and intense. Actually, it became an inquisition. Do you have children? How many? Where are they? What are their names? Can we go with you? It took a few seconds for them to agree to get out of the car when we arrived at the traffic light. But once out, they flashed again their brilliant, white teeth. As I drove away, I saw them in my rear-view mirror, holding hands and skipping around like happy little birds in a puddle of summer rain.
Translated by Lina Strenio