Shanor Rising — 3. Buro

As she approached Park Avenue, she noted that the door of the coffee shop had seen better days. She saw it then as if seeing it for the first time. The brightly colored sign above the wooden door jamb, hung lopsided — and the door jamb itself, desperately needing several coats of paint. After years of neglect, only two of the four screws still remained, precariously attaching the sign to it perch. The sign “Alfred’s Coffee Joint”, creaked as it was buffeted by the every present gusts of wind. The familiar charm of the door welcomed her as she pushed it open. It creaked and complained loudly.

“Oh, it’s warm in here,” suddenly realizing that she was cold. Hugging herself as she crossed the threshold of the room. “You’re late,” came the gruff reply.

“Well glad to see you too,” she fired back, unfazed, almost challenging.

“What are you going to tell me today? You long for the sameness of your quaint little home. That you long for the smell of the trees and the feeling of the unpolluted winds…”, he mocked her as he flicked his hands through an imaginary head of hair, tossing his head to and fro while he spoke “…brushing against your face?”

He was unrelenting and even less sympathetic. He continued in an even mechanical tone, “It’s time to move on Shanor.”

“Buro…” she whispered as his words slammed into her. At once she became; becoming physically ill; emotionally spent; defeated, she sighed.

The truth and fierceness of his words cut her deeply. The images refusing to be shut away, and now they flooded in. The images that had given her purpose, that had warmed her, now threatened to engulf her.

She walked across room; her pride alone kept her from crying as she plopped herself down like a bundle of sticks. A forgone conclusion; a thing without purpose.

Buro glanced over at Shanor as he randomly went about cleaning the tables. The room was sparsely furnished, with little trim or personality of its own. Although there were three large windows in the shop, two along Park Avenue, and one alone East Street. There was only space for six tables in the room. The other two we already place outside, near the door, and beside the first window, along Park Avenue. The tables themselves were round, except for the two that we used outside. Like everything else in the little shop, the tables and the chairs were also in a state of disrepair. But as Buro liked to say, “the coffee-heads don’t come ‘ere for the décor, they come for the coffee.”

His gray plaid shirt, a size larger than his figure, hid the well formed muscles along his arms. He had wide angular shoulders, like those of a working man. His face was unattractive, but not ugly. He sighed as he abruptly stopped and tentatively approached Shanor.

“Look lass,” as he struggled to find soft words; his demeanor softening. He flung the towel haphazardly over his shoulder and shoved his hands into the pockets of his dark colored pants as he walked slowly towards her.

“It’s not that I don’t hate it here too lass. I yearn, for my home also; for our world,” he paused feeling inadequate as he continued, “today, this feeling of…” he searched for the words, “…homesickness is particularly strong. I and I don’t why, and I don’t like it.”

She lifted her head slightly, and faced him then. Her scarf since removed, revealed the low neckline of the bright coloured yellow blouse that she wore beneath her black denim jacket, colors that matched her hazel eyes. Her back was turned completely from the window along Park Avenue.

Her head lifted fully as she faced him, pinning him to the spot with her eyes.

Their eyes locked in a silent dance, and it took a heart-beat before she began, “today the familiar feeling of security and serenity escapes me. My one special place of escape isn’t working its typical magic,” she whispered. She crossed her legs, as she dropped her hands into her lap, fidgeting absent-mindedly with the belt of her skirt, which was a shade darker than her blouse.

“I am always able to find some small respite from the constant crush of bodies that I have come to know as normal here in this world,” she continued. His brown eyes comforted her, assuring her it was ok to continue.

She did.

“Today, like most days, I started the journey of self healing by sharing my thoughts with my journal. A past-time that my mind healer had recommended. A curious, local shrink — shrink, such a strange word to describe someone — has been helping me to grapple with my past. “The process, she promised,” she turned away from him and stared out through the window, looking at something across the street, off into the distance but not really seeing anything, “…would help with the adjustment here in this great new world, which I have been forced to now call home,” the words falling from her freely.

He began to speak, “but Shanor…”

Her right hand protested, as it flickered up. “No Buro,” she cut him off abruptly; shaking her head violently as if to ward of his intrusion.

“I miss my true home, Aethuria. Don’t think me ungrateful,” the tears flowed freely then; stinging her eyes as they came. She was lost and could not hold them back no longer.

“I am Shanor, Earth’s first Aethurian. It’s difficult to imaging a time without a wind whistle. But so it is.” He stood transfixed to the spot. Rooted there, unsure how to continue; knowing that he should comfort her, but unsure of how to do so.

Many things could be said about him. He was brave, a talented fighter, a decisive leader. But when it came to her, he was always unsure of himself.

He remembered their earlier conversation, not a moon ago, when he went searching for her in her rooftop sanctuary.

“Shan?! Shan are you up here?” his deep shell of a voice intruded. “For the life of the stars lass. Would it kill you to say a word of your whereabouts?” he had been concerned. The red flash of her hair sparkled ever so lightly, faintly. His concern gave way to frustration, replaced finally with annoyance.

“Aye! I am up here as clear as you can see”, without turning from her book. “Is there something special that you seek?” The edge in her voice gave no room for misunderstanding.

“Aye, I know you want to be left alone…” Unfazed he had continued, “but, I’m just trying to…”

“Yes! I know!” She interjected. Suddenly abruptly cutting him off; a typical penchant of hers. “Clearly, I won’t be getting much work done in my journal,” she thought to herself as she began to gather the things.

First her leather bound book. A treasure that had taken her several trips to each of the four bookstores until she had found that particular book; the cover, she had told Buro, somehow spoke to her, with its Celtic inspired runes and embossed letters. The fact that it had been a handcrafted item similar to the ones that she might have found at home, drew her to it; made it special. So authentic was the book that it lacked the ever present “barcodes” that scared most items, much to Shanor’s distaste.

Unsurprisingly, she used a black fountain pen; another treasure that she had found at an antique store.

Meticulously, she packed away her items. The pen, she dismantled into three pieces, which she placed into her leather carrying pouch. The book, pen and ink, each had a place, to which they were each lovingly returned.

Buro sat and watched the spectacle that was Shanor. Her attention to details was legendary. Though he was easily taller than most men, Buro often positioned himself in a diminutives manner. While sitting, he could pass for a man significantly less than his size.

“The air is changing. There is something on the winds”, as he made himself comfortable. “Don’t be silly”, she lashed out. “There’s scarce a wind to change in this place. This isn’t… Aethuria” the name seemed stuck in her throat.

“Girlie,” he tried in a softer tone; an almost laughable sound coming from this troll of a man. His hands had disappeared under his coat as he sat forward. “Don’t deny that you don’t feel it too. The once infamous berserker…” He pressed his point.

Her anger flared then. She shouted “Stop it!”

He remembered now how angry she had looked there in the moon light. How her face had twisted into a scowl. Her teeth bared, clenched, like a trapped animal. She reeled as if the force of the hidden emotions were somehow made tangible. “Stop it! Stop it!” The memories rushed to the forefront, she stepped forward, then froze. A single, tell-all step.

Sensing, rather than seeing the oncoming turmoil, Buro rushed to his feet. The seemingly lumbering giant moved fluidly and effortlessly. She had fallen into his arms then, weak from the onslaught of emotions. The tears came. His honey brown skin complemented hers completely. They were one.

He remembered, the aftermath. The walls of the little apartment trembled as he held her. His eyes never once leaving hers, as they exchanged knowing looks of relief.

“I am relieved, almost glad,” he ventured. Knowingly they smiled, for the barriers had held. “Why the smiles girlie?” he teased. His hands engulfed and shielded her as he has been doing for the past months since their arrival. He protected her still, even here, his loyalty was absolute.

“Aye my valiant stead of a man,” she had said, once her strength returned. “I can feel it too,” was all she could venture before she fainted in his arms. Trying desperately trying not wake her, he carried her to her bed; staying there the remainder of the night to keep watch over her, only slipping away in the early hours of the morning.

Today was no different, he thought darkly to himself. He could feel it still. The influence is strong, and grows stronger still.

The trees across the road swayed in the onslaught of the wind. The few unlucky souls that had been caught outside, and were unprotected, scurried for shelter from the wind which had now picked up considerably in strength. It was almost as if the wind itself was alive and listening to his thoughts, eagerly punctuating them with it howls.

Just then, the sign fell, and splintered into several pieces. The last of the screws surrendering to the wind.

Shanor snapped around; her eyes desperately searching for his; questioning. She found him standing there still. “I know. I can still feel it,” he said then, as he turned to clean the table nearest to him, before making his way towards the door.