There were three moments of discovery.
I was surprised by the vibrancy of their smiles. Each smile distinct in the way it communicated the apparent joy of having their arms wrapped around each other. This was the first moment I can recall where I realised just how glad I was that they’d stopped me and asked me to take their picture.
Then I asked the obvious question, something I chided self for the very moment the words passes my lips. “Are the three of you sisters?”
Two of the three smiled brighter as they said “Yes.”
The other rolled her eyes, not in a dismissive way, in a way that suggested she’d heard that question too many times this week. The subtly of her reaction was not lost on me. “I’m sorry; you must get that a lot.”
She softened, a little embarrassed I noticed her momentary lapse. “No, it’s okay.” She offered. I shifted my eyes to the screen of their camera. “Bunch up.” The sisters pushed together close, almost completely masking the picturesque Italian building in the background.
Within the tiny border of the camera frame sat an image of perfect happiness. I pushed the button and captured it for them in pixels for prosperity. “Got it.” I said and handed the camera back. The sisters put their heads together to look at the screen. Snug.
In dumbfounded awe, I looked at them looking at themselves. Absorbed by the unqualified warmth of their looks as they saw the moment I captured. I blinked; though this time I made a conscious effort to hold my eyelids shut for a moment longer. For behind my eyelids /I/ was trying to record this moment, submit it to memory. This the perfect unguarded moment of warmth I’d been privileged to be a part of. A kind voice forced my eyes open. “Thank you.” They said, with polite smiles again.
“No problem. Have a nice day.” I replied, and I walked on my way.
I didn’t look back. I just closed my eyes. And there, already fading into the shadows of memory was an image of three happy sisters, that I hope I can recall when I need to feel that warmth again.