I. Winter Morning
A new day begins with an orange glow, winter's dim morning light gleam a warm halo. Vast grasslands stretch as far as the eye can see, gentle breezes whoosh intermittently. Blades of green grass swish to and fro, morning dew on leaves fall from bent grass as the winds blow.
A small village rests beside the grassland, quiet and serene.
As if awakened by the morning light, a door creeks open gentle and unseen.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Bette." Salad greets me in a soft tone "Not a cloud in the sky, such lovely weather today!"
In actuality, he is greeting the person in front of me.
"Yes the sun is so warm." The old woman sitting in the wheelchair I'm pushing is Mrs. Bette
Salad brings a basket of fresh vegetables into Mrs. Bette's house. I ask him to send the vegetables that the old lady eats every day.
"I am sorry that I'm always such a bother." She Says.
"It's okay, I enjoy doing it. If it makes you happy, I'm Happy." Salad twined his fingers in his flaxen hair with a sheepish grin.
"I thought I would be alone till the day I died" Mrs. Bette's eyes lack sparkle and shine, the pupils can't focus. She speaks in a plain tone. It's obvious she is almost completely blind, yet she always wears a smile on her face.
"Don't worry, we are here with you now." I squat down and put a cup of freshly warmed yogurt in Mrs. Bette's hands.
On this winter day, even with the low temperature, people can still feel the warmth. Mrs. Bette holds the yogurt and one hand drops to her knee momentarily. Afterwards, she lifts the yogurt slowly and carefully takes a sip. She holds the cup up high, without letting it drop back down to her lap. She smiles and sighs.
A mass of white hair floats in the air.
"I once met a girl like you, who warmed a cup of yogurt for me in the mornings. Probably because I'm old, I even feel it tastes like it used to, such a memorable flavor."
The old lady put her hands back to her knees again.
"What kind of person is she?" Salad gently asked, and the rabbit ears on the hat rocked slightly from side to side.
"She is such a beautiful girl; her eyes are the same color as her long golden locks breached by the sun. When she smiles, she looks just like a flower."
The rising sun reflected in Mrs. Bette's eyes, a warm smile made its way across her features that showed contentment.
Yogurt was only quietly lying next to the woman, smiling at her. Her long blond hair flowed with the light of the sun and fluttered with the wind.
"In any case, I'm going to tell you an old story. It's about this girl and another girl about seven or eight years old."
Mrs. Bette brought up this subject so abruptly.
"The girl was very vivacious and energetic, always with her hand in every pot doing things that worried me. That girl was a traveler from far away. She is gentle, beautiful and learned. she know a lot about health and longevity, of which she often gave advice. Everybody is very keen on her. At the girls request, the younger girl accompanied her and went out on horseback, to ride with the cattle and goats, and to put them out to graze."
"It was a sunny spring day. The prairies were green and lush, and the cattle and sheep kept running towards the grasslands..."
Salad and I sat next to Mrs. Bette, and listened quietly.
I suddenly felt time flowing backward, slowly and silently to the past.
II. Grazing On Meadow
Cattle and sheep flock and frolic in the vast expanse of grasslands. The motley muddle of hoof beats resounded across the grasslands, kicking up flurries of dust behind them.
Bette and I ride along behind the herd of cattle and sheep.
These are the freest and easiest days in my memory. A girl with short-cropped hair and a hat riding the steed beside me is Bette. Prolonged exposure has given her a dark-brown cast, and her impish spirit makes her look like a tomboy.
Once she saw a cattle or sheep out of the group, Bette would ride the horse and make them go back to the group.
Bette is prone to innocent laughter and boastful bravura about her riding skills.
"Heh heh, not to toot my own horn...but my horsemanship is the best of all the kids here." "Yeah yeah. I know. Look, just ride your horse."
Bette would always do dangerous stunts on horseback. She would stand up, let go of the reins, and open her arms to the wind.
She told me that she felt like a bird soaring through the air.
Bette was a child raised by nomadic peoples and had been given a large amount of independence since childhood. She had been to many places before, but never seen mountains. Maybe that the reason why Bette has always has such a curious longing to see the sky.
This is where the nomadic village has just moved to. The grass grows lush and hearty in the pastures here, and, compared to the previous grasslands, the reeds are taller and the terrain more mountainous.
Just this alone would be enough to thrill Bette to death. She therefore insisted on going out herding in spite of everyone else's opposition. The villagers asked me to follow her. Because Bette was not familiar with the lay of the land, they were afraid that she would have an accident out on the prairie. So, I went with her to go out tending to the herd.
"Ah!" Bette suddenly raised her voice and shouted "Sister, sister, is that a mountain?" Bette pointed to a small spot where the was a raised mound way off in the distance. It was the first time she had ever seen something called "mountain", so she excitedly asked me what it was.
"Yes, it is" I could see how elated she must have been feeling and replied.
Bette's eyes sparkled with a strange light after hearing my answer. "I'll go see. Be right back!" Having just finished saying this, Bette rushed toward the side of the mountain.
And before i could even try to stop her, she was gone. That left me sitting on the back of the horse and watching the animals poking their noses down in the grass.
"And then what?" Salad's question interrupted my thoughts.
The girl that had been living in the grasslands saw the mountains she had never seen before, and her heart was lifted by the sight of them. She rode her horse, pushing ever closer to the foot of the mountains. As the distance closed, the imposing presence of the mountains made the girl yearn all the more.
He seemed to detect a rise in Lady Bette's usual tone. However, pointing this out seemed to depress Lady Bette.
"The sight of this vista is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life."
"I agree, I will never forget either."
III. Unforgettable Thing
I waited there for a long time, and I didn't see Bette come back.
I was a little anxious, probably because nothing like this had ever happened to me before. After I rushed the cows and sheep back to the village, I got right back on my horse and went out searching again.
I rushed in the direction of the general area that Bette had disappeared into.
The sun was hanging high on the hill, but I was protected from its rays by the shadows. I looked around the mountains but all i could see was the scorching luminosity of sunlight.
But moments later I caught sight of a scene so terrifying that I screamed bloody murder at the sight of it.
"Bette, hold tight! Don't let go!"
Bette was hanging on the edge of a cliff, her arms trembling. She clung to the branches of the trees leaning over the cliff.
I wanted Bette to jump down so I could catch her. Her desperate expression told me she had probably never been this scared in her life. But jumping right off like that would too easily injure her.
So I forgot about that idea and got off from the horse and started climbing the mountain.
"Bette, don't give up, keep holding on. Don't worry! I'll pull you up!"
I said as I finally got to the top of the hill, knelt on the ground, and reached out my hands. But no matter how far I stretched my arms out, I just couldn't quite reach her.
"Hey...take my hand...my hand has almost no strength left!" Bette's grip was loosening.
I tried several times but to no avail. After such a long time, Bette was nearly at the limit of her endurance. She couldn't hold on much longer.
Seeing that the strength of Bette's hands was running out, in desperation, I climbed on the rock wall. I grabbed on to the upper wall with one hand and reached for her with the other.
"Don't be afraid, take my hand" I forced a smile to put her at ease, but with a tremble my voice betrayed me.
Bette's hand was quivering as she tentatively let one hand go and reached for me.
Her hand was right in front of me, but it seemed a galaxy away.
With gargantuan effort, I managed to take a hold of her hand. But one thing I didn't count on was that I didn't seem to have the extra strength left over to pull the both of us back up.
"Trust me!" I shouted with unbelievable volume.
At that moment, I noticed Bette's pupils dilate. I released the hand holding the rock wall, and then grabbed a hold of Bette tightly with both arms. I tried with all my might to hold her tightly in my arms, then, we slid down the side of the mountain.
Fortunately, although this hillside is high it is not as perilously rocky as I thought. I protected Bette and slid down the rock wall, trying my best to land on both feet. When we finally came to a stop i had suffered only superficial injuries.
But Bette seemed scared out of her wits. It took her a while to recover. Looking at my injuries, Bette asked, "Are you ok? Are you hurt?" "I'm ok, I'm not hurt, as long as your ok."
"Sorry, it was all my fault." "What you did was wrong, don't do anything to worry me again."
I tried to say it in a reproachful tone. Bette didn't look at me, she just kept searching for something on her person. Was she checking whether she was hurt? I thought to myself, but didn't ask.
Bette, with head lowered and searching desperately through her clothing, then began crying and wailing in bitter dismay under the clear blue sky.
IV. Beautiful Thing
"Did you know why she was hanging off the cliff?"
Lady Bette was sitting in the wheel chair giggling, crow's feet deep and well defined spreading around the corners of her eyes.
This was not at all what I expected to be talking about.
"Did she fall by accident?" I asked, not able to contain my curiosity.
By the middle of Lady Bette's story, Salad had made a pillow of my lap and was sleeping like a log.
"No." The old lady smiled, and her eyes became a squint with a single crack separating her eyelids. "She found a beautiful flower on the cliff that she wanted to give to the girl because she liked her. But she never expected to end up hanging off the edge of the cliff. And she couldn't protect the flower no matter how hard she tried."
The old lady's voice began shaking as she spoke.
"How I wish she could have put the flower on her head!" Lady Bette smiled, but held her hands together tightly.
Lady Bette is now around 110 years old. For a human being, she is quite old. Even though the use of her legs and eyes are nearly lost, she looks happy.
She was a child when we met before. Now she is a grey haired old woman in a wheelchair. Compared with my long life, her whole life goes by in the blink of an eye.
And I am exceptionally clear about one thing, no matter what I do, there is nothing that will change the inevitable. I have always been aware that the life of human beings is so short compared to us food souls.
For this reason, I think it is impossible to count how many times the human beings and food souls will be united and separated.
I looked at Salad, who was sleeping quietly in my lap, and touched his head gently. Looking up at the blue sky and white clouds, the breeze whistling through my ears played out a familiar melody.
"So beautiful..." Looking at all this, I do not know why I feel a little bit happy.
"Huh? Did I fall asleep?" Salad asked as he rubbed the sleep out of his glazed over eyes.
"Yes." I looked at Salad and laughed. "Now we are going to prepare a healthy lunch."
Even if she and I had met by chance, being together was inevitable.
"It would be great if I could spend more time with you."
That's what Yogurt's Master Attendant had said.
"Humans cannot escape death."
"I'm sorry, I'm always so self-willed, I left you here..."
"And Bette, I hope this child can grow up healthy."
The Lady Master Attendant looked at the baby by her bed and continued talking to Yogurt. Yogurt's Master Attendant was born weak, but after giving birth to her child Bette, her condition got even worse, and continued deteriorating at an alarming rate. Soon, she wouldn't even be able to move.
Then, one cold night, she passed away quietly. It was the first time that Yogurt had ever felt the coming of the dawn was so slow.
After the death of her Master Attendant, Yogurt did not stay around. She opted to travel far away to learn about keeping healthy using different foods.
She didn't want to see people as frail as her Master Attendant. She hopes that everyone can live long and live well. This way, humans can spend more time with their loved ones.
Yogurt has been to many places, and she has left her footprints in many countries on the continent of Tirlah. Later, she once again encountered Bette by chance.
Bette, grew up in a nomadic environment. She looked like her mother, but since she was raised by her father, resembled him more in that she was high spirited and big-hearted.
Bette did not remember that she had seen Yogurt when she was a baby. She thought Yogurt was a traveler from elsewhere. Yogurt also did not intend to stay, but she wanted to see the child more.
"If My Lady were still with us, this scene would be the perfect picture of happiness."
Even as much as Yogurt had contemplated it, she just could not understand human feelings. She also didn't know that the little girl who called her "sister" look upon her as someone she could depend on.
Bette didn't have any impressions of her mother, as she passed away very early on. Though brash and uninhibited, Bette's face was always filled with smiles. She was always jealous of every child with a mother.
Yogurt's presence was like a miracle to her. It was the first time she had ever found a mother figure who would be happy for her and concerned about her. Bette was not aware of her feelings for Yogurt though. But be that as it may, no matter how trivial or insignificant the matter, she wanted Yogurt's praise.
Like when she first saw the mountains, she also noticed an unknown pink flower hanging off a cliff wall. At that very moment she felt that it would surely be perfect for Yogurt. As a result, she climbed up the cliff to take the flower.
But what actually happened came out of the left field. And she didn't expect the flower to be damaged as she fell. And she could never realize her dream of meeting her mother once again.
She has never said a word about it to Yogurt. The day the nomads decided to move, Yogurt also decided to leave. But Bette didn't try to convince her to not go.
She smiled and said her goodbyes to Yogurt. Yogurt kept Bette's smile deep in her mind.
And Yogurt continued on her journey.
Perhaps God was afraid she would get too lonely. While passing Niviste, Yogurt met a nervous, twitchy food soul who was meticulous and obsessive about everything in life. Maybe it was due to his youthful good looks, but Yogurt just couldn't leave the reclusive Salad to his own devices. At that moment in life, Yogurt needed a companion. After all, she realized she had a long, long leg of the journey still to go. And Salad was a food soul who could keep her company along the way.
And so she was fortunate, even though they had not yet reached daybreak, she would never be alone again.