Chapter 1. Path.
The alarm beeped and the loud music started. Sho opened his eyes to the dim lights of dawn. He felt a little anger when he awoke from a nice sleep, but smiled thinking of the possibilities the new day would bring. He stepped out of his caravan and looked up at the mountains Summer was ending and the air was starting to chill. He had parked the caravan in a nice place by the forest and proceeded to hike up the slope. He had driven from Hiroshima where they had told him about the bakery on the top of the mountain. As the good baker he was, he wanted to inspect it and to see if he could lend a hand there.
He arrived to the top of a small hill first. The lack of oxygen was getting noticeable and he sat on a round rock. Not far from where he was, a type of road was carved in the ground, going down the hill to the valleys there. Sho wasn’t sure whether it was made by Mother Nature or humans. So he got up and walked near it to inspect it.
- That’s the path of the wind. – A voice told him. Sho turned his head to see an old man walking towards him.
- They say that if you wander on it and the wind blows through you, your life will be changed forever. – He said.
That made Sho smile,
- Changed? In what way?
The old man shrugged:
- Change is change. It is never positive nor negative.
Sho thanked him and proceeded to continue with his march.
- Are you going to the bakery on top of the mountain? – Asked the ojiisan.
- I figured because people I encounter here go there. – The man had sincere eyes. He hesitated for a while but finally said to the young man: - Try the path of the wind, it reaches the top and your life can change.
“When you find those bubbles, you get magic.”
Those were the last words of Aiba Masaki’s favourite fairy tale. His grandmother used to tell it every night and he dreamt of catching the bubbles in his butterfly net. He kept picking the wild flowers that grew near the windmill to use for his soaps and his fragances.
- It’s getting cold. Autumn will soon paint the trees in gold and brown. – He told the retriever that accompained him.
He glanced towards that road that only a few people dared to cross and smiled. Soon the wind would run up and down the hill bringing the rain and the cold.
- Do you think we’re going to find the bubbles of magic ever, Puu-chan? – He spoke to the dog again and he simply stared at him while wagging his tail.
- But what happens when you find those bubbles, I wonder. – He continued speaking to the dog. – Does your life change? Do you find happiness?
He petted the dog on the head.
- We’re happy as it is, aren’t we, Puu-chan?
- I used to own a cat and I talked to her as well. – A deep voice coming from somewhere on the hill startled both Masaki and the dog.
on the hill startled both Masaki and the dog.
The young man turned around and saw an excursionist approaching him.
- I’m looking for the bakery but I think I got lost.
Masaki stared at him and then at that road. He pointed to it and said:
- Did you cross it?
- Yep. I was told it’s the path of the wind. Indeed it is, as it blows forcefully there.
- Am I getting rich? Famous?
Masaki laughed. A sound that pleased Sho.
- You never know. – He replied.
That was a nice place, full of flowers and vegetation. An ancient windmill in the distance. Insects buzzing, birds chirping and a happy dog running around.
- Do you live here? – Asked Sho.
Masaki pointed then to the windmill.
- Sugoi! – Sho was really surprised. He had travelled the whole country and seen a lot of things but he could never imagine that a young person would live in an old windmill.
- If you wait a minute, I think I can show you the way to the bakery. – Masaki told him.
He ran to his home carrying the basket with the flowers and herbs. Sho noticed it and it dawned on him that the young man was a soap maker or maybe a perfumist. He promised himself he was going to visit that place every now and then if they hired him at the bakery. Even if they didn’t.
It turned out the bakery was on the other side of the mountain. Sho arrived almost at noon. The owners heard what he had to say, gave him something to eat and agreed to test his skills as a master baker.