See Me Again
On the floor in front of the fireplace in the arrivals hall sits Njall. His grandpa folded up his parka for him to sit on, so he doesn’t get cold. But it isn’t cold here, and Njall doesn’t freeze. There’s lots of people here. It’s actually a little bit too warm. So many people here. Everyone in the whole village almost. And the strange man with the long staff. He’s a bit scary, but he has friendly eyes.
They all want to talk to the strange man. No one wants to talk to Njall. Not even grandpa Dagur.
Poor Njall. He’s seven years old, and he’s just lost his mother. He sort of gets it. His mom will not be coming back. For the longest time he thought she would come back, but then they set her on fire.
He cried when they set her on fire.
His dad said that mom was one with the flames now and had gone to the stars to burn forever in the sky. It doesn’t hurt to burn when you’re dead.
The fire here in the hall is different. It’s much smaller, and it’s indoors. But the flames look the same. Maybe he can send his mother a message.
Njall tries. He really does, but every time he leans close to whisper to the flames a message for his mother his grandpa comes and pulls him away. If he only had more time he could learn to stand the heat for long enough to tell his mom he misses her.
– – –
Gulli stepped into the arrivals hall and into a wall of noise and heat. Her goggles fogged over in an instant. She pushed back the hood of her parka, tugged at her scarf and pushed her goggles up on her brow. So warm. So many people.
The entire village must be here.
Well, except Vissla, and probably Ralphur. Vissla couldn’t stand Fannar, and the post office didn’t close until later.
But everyone else was here. Let’s hope Fannar could talk some sense into Sindri. It wasn’t good to get too hung up on the dead. Just look at Kala. Never spoke a word any more. Didn’t do anything. Just sat around wasting away.
She couldn’t let that happen to Sindri. They. She and the rest of her family. They could help him, but he had to want to be helped himself. For Njall’s sake, and Saga’s. They needed their father. Njall was getting more and more quiet lately.
“Hey, Gulli. Come on in. Sit down.”
Gulli started. Hulda. She’d appeared right beside her and she hadn’t even noticed.
“Oh, hi Hulda. How are you doing? It’s so crowded in here.”
“There’s a free seat over there.” Hulda raised her free hand and pointed. “There, over by Dagny and Finn.”
“I see.” Gulli craned her neck. “Is Sindri here?”
“Talking to Fannar last I saw.” Hulda took a deep breath. “Dagur’s looking after Njall. He’s tried to crawl into the fireplace three times already. I think your father is getting a little bit annoyed.”
Gulli sighed. “I’ll get him. Thanks.”
Something about fires had gotten to the boy. They’d have to have a talk with him about it – before he set himself on fire. Really, it should be Sindri who did that, but her brother didn’t seem capable of even that these days. She’d probably have to do it herself. Men never talked about things.
He should get himself a new wife. It’d do him good. Well, not right now of course. It’d be a bit early, but soon – spring maybe. Perhaps Hulda. That’d be good. Hulda was good. Steady, sensible.
– – –
Gulli wasn’t the only one with such thoughts – for better or for worse. Let’s not dwell too much on that now. It’s for Sindri to decide after all, and before he can do that he’ll have to get his act together.
Don’t worry. He’ll be fine. Just needs a bit more time, he does. Fannar will set him straight, or Gulli will get through to him, or maybe he’ll just sort himself out on his own eventually. Either way, he’ll be fine, and the story isn’t about him anyway.
You might have forgotten, but really, our story is about Kala – believe it or not – and it’s about time Fannar went to go see her.
Everyone he spoke to mentioned her. They’re clearly worried. Something needs doing, the least he can do is go see her.
And so, as the evening nears its end, Fannar stands up, dons his cloak and grabs his staff, and heads out into the night.
As he did, a hush fell over the hall. They all watched him, the villagers. Silent, worried, relieved. He’d fix things, their shaman. Sure, Vissla knew what she was doing, but the girl was still mad hot snow. Perhaps the old hunter needed a bit of a break. She’d spent more time with Kala than anyone else.
And after Fannar had left, and after the outer door of the hall had swung shut, and after everyone had waited a few seconds to make sure he didn’t come back, the village drew a sigh of relief. It’d be fine now. Fannar would set things right.
– – –
Over at the post office, at the little table by the fireplace, sat Ralphur and Styrbjorn. Their coffee had gone cold, and it had been a while since either of them said anything.