Between Darkness and Wonder
It’s now the following morning, and Fannar the shaman woke up in his bed in his room above the post office. He lay for a while and listened. The fire in the little potbelly stove in the corner crackled peacefully to itself. He’d put in a new log later. There’s plenty of time.
Underneath the floorboards a mouse sleeps. It’s stolen a book of stamps from somewhere down below and sometimes it nibbles on it when it can’t find anything else to eat. The glue on the back of the stamp tastes funny.
Downstairs, Ralphur moves around, getting up and ready for the new days. There will soon be coffee.
Outside, the darkness of the long night hid everything the could be seen, and a light snowfall dampened whatever might be heard. But for the moment the village lay empty and silence, and there was nothing to see or hear.
Not this morning.
– – –
The postmaster made coffee. He took his time. Shuffled his feet. Slow movements – precise, and without hurry.
The shaman waited. Leaned back in his chair, stretched out his legs, and clasped his hands over his belly. A bit of food would have been nice, but it could wait. He’d cook something later, once he got over to Kala’s place again. Better that way.
The machine gurgled and wheezed, as it should, and soon enough the smell of freshly brewed coffee came permeated the room.
“There you are.” Ralphur set down a cup on the table and went back to the machine to make one for himself.
Fannar grabbed the cup. Small and green. No handle. Warm – of course. He waited and watched the smoke rise towards the ceiling.
“You’ll be leaving today then?” said Ralphur from over by the coffee machine. “Or will you stay until tomorrow?”
“I’m afraid the answer is no to both of your questions.” Fannar cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter. “Circumstances dictate a change of plan is needed. I will remain here in Lurstrand until further notice.”
Perhaps the coffee machine wheezed a little louder than normal, but other than that the old postmaster showed no visible reaction to the news.
“Is that so?” Ralphur picked up his cup. Careful not to spill anything he walked over to the table and sat down.
Fannar nodded. “My assessment of the situation is that the bereaved girl requires my assistance and supervision in her recovery.”
Ralphur looked at him, and after a while he nodded. “I’ll have more firewood brought p to your room then.”
“Thank you.” Fannar sipped his coffee. Just a tiny bit to hot still. “I trust the radio communication device is in order? I need to be able to keep in touch with some of the more remote homesteads in the area during my stay here.”
“Of course.” Ralphur smiled. An instant later he froze, his hand halfway to the cup of coffee on the table. Blushing, he cleared his throat and clasped his hands in his lap. “Actually… The radio is broken. I have asked Sindri to take a look at it to see what can be done about the repairs, but he’s been preoccupied with looking after his wife, and now…”
Ralphur lowered his gaze.
Fannar sighed. “Understood. I’d be most grateful if you could see to it that any issues with the radio communication device are resolved as a matter of urgency.”
“Of course, shaman Fannar. Of course.”
“Thank you Ralphur, and thanks for the coffee.” Fannar drained his cup, ignoring the heat, and stood up. “I have duties that will need attending to. Should anyone enquire as to my whereabouts please inform them they will find me in Kala’s house.”