There was once a boy. He was 13 years old. He had freckles and red hair. Every summer his parents brought him to the sea for at least a week. It was a Swedish resort in a foreign land. The fragrant pine woods hosted a network of small and medium houses for families, or for couples who sought peace and tranquility. The beach was sandy and often full of children playing. Friends of many summers gather in the same place every year. There were also the small groups of the resort entertainment that brought activities even to the most shy boys and girls, recalcitrant to join the others, or for children that parents wanted out of the way to stay alone and quiet for a little.
This boy did not like solitude, but he didn’t dislike it either in front of some kind of noisy company you can find at the beach. He always felt different, strange and sometimes misunderstood. He did not know that part of this feeling were created by the people around him, and part was a shielding sensation forget to defend himself from a world that frightened him.
For years, every summer he walked through the solitary paths of the pine forest, listening to cicadas, savoring the rosemary scent, sacred to the ancient gods and following the squirrels in the trees. One day, however, he wasn’t alone in the dim light of the lazy august afternoon. There was an olive-colored skin man who was sitting at a pine tree. He had a bell next to him and a couple of strange metal stills from oriental designs. He was praying in an ancient language, and he stopped when he saw the curious boy getting near him.
“Do you know what this is?” said the man pointing at the bell in a basical English that created a bridge between the two worlds so far away the one to the other.
The boy shook his head.
“This is a beacon for the spirits of the ancestors, a way to guide them and to thank them when they listen to us.”
“The squirrels seem to run away when you play it” told him the boy, looking at him distrustfully from under his glasses.
“Animals sometimes are like humans when facing the truth. Often they listen, but then they are afraid to stand for it.”
The two talked about that for a few minutes. “There is an animal that has always followed me since I was in elementary school. I always thought of seeing him in the shadows of this pine forest when I was feeling down, or in the footsteps of the animals of the mountain after a long snowfall. This could be a spirit that looks after me? “
The man looked at him with a great smile, staring at him like he was looking for something in his eyes “One day you’ll know a lot of things, and you will discover the meaning of what is happening to you. But in the meantime go enjoy friends and the beach. Reality is the only thing you can see with those eyes. So see it… “
The two left the place, looking at each other like old friends, and they never met again. That day the boy met some guys and his holidays that year were very nice. Wether his animal friend was watching him from the shadows or not, he couldn’t know, nor if he would have ever met that monk with silver bells again. But somehow that unusual encounter he had in the pine woods made him aware the some day everything would have assumed a completely different meaning. […]