Come to Papa, Mia! You’re such a smart girl, such a smart girl! Papa loves you, Mia! Come to him!
And, as she approached, Ricco grew less okay with it all. She was thirteen months yesterday, and closer to death than before. As was Ricco. And Maria. And he had no answer to that. He had no way of slowing this single moment, captured behind a lens and imprinted onto photopaper.
There was time, and this was time.
Mia grin grew unsure. Ricco adjusted his expression and encouraged her. Into outstretched arms, she stumbled the last few steps.
Ricco decided against holding those last few steps against her, and welcomed her into a spinning embrace.