I picked up the bottle and turned back. It was past time to head back to the little beach house; my mother would probably be preparing dinner shortly. She was a professional chef, and hadn't missed a trick when it came to gathering recipes and ideas all last week here. Now she was going to spend the next week at this resort trying things out on us, while there were still some of the more obscure ingredients readily available. No doubt the little Asian food shop back home was about to see an upturn in business, too.
My foot whacked up against something else hard again, striking the same toe with which I'd hit the bottle. I swore a little more sharply, and leaned down to rub my toe and check what I'd hit.
I blinked, nonplussed. Another bottle. An identical bottle. Even a near-identical chunk of cork, cut in the same shape and jammed in hard. And, I could just barely see through the cloudy glass, another tiny scroll tied with a string.
Swallowing a nervous laugh that suddenly threatened to bubble up, I looked around the beach. Was someone playing silly buggers with the stupid gaijin kid?
But there was no one around to be seen. There weren't even many places around to hide that also offered a good view, unless you had binoculars. I sighed and grabbed the second bottle, if just because it was there, and went on.
When my foot hit the third bottle, I threw the other two down into the sand and marched on without checking for the scroll inside.
A strange feeling stole over me, after marching along for several more minutes. I'd gone beyond the bounds of the resort when walking out along the beach, but I should've come back to it already by now. None of the beach houses were yet in sight, though. The sun was already setting and the clouds rolling back in, but it wasn't so dark that I shouldn't have been able to see the white houses. I set off at a light jog, growing uneasy.
And I swear that the fourth bottle hadn't been there before I stepped right on it. It slid out from under my feet, skidding aside easily, and I got a mouthful of sand for my troubles.