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Eye of the Storm

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When she tried to feel and came up empty Shiori found herself drawn to the street where she would walk for hours until she had to find a place to sit down. The coffee shop would have been too warm and the scent of the coffee brewing too comforting. She stood outside and watched the patrons reading their papers, typing away on laptops, and sipping their beverages. She wondered if any of them actually felt the joy or what they were doing or if they were blinded by the everyday tasks. Was coffee always just coffee to them? Could they feel the absolute wonder and miracle that danced on their taste buds?

She took a deep breath and stepped away from the window and settled on a bench just outside. Her phone vibrated in her pocket and she checked the text. Her friend was looking for her, but she wasn't sure anything would save her, and she wasn't sure she wanted to be saved. The thought made her grimace. Why was happiness such an inconvenience to her?

The phone buzzed again and the message was just a series of emojis that she had never quite gotten the hang of reading correctly. After some thought she was able to discern that her friend was warning her that it was going to rain, and pretty drastically. She shook her head and turned off the phone.

"Are you alright, miss?"

She looked up at the young man in front of her and nodded.

"It's...just," he shook his head, "It's just that you're crying."

"Am I," Shiori and touched her hand to her cheek. She shut her eyes. "I'm fine. Just having a rest."

"Would you...I mean I could buy you a coffee."

"You're sweet, but I'm fine."

She got up and started walking again. She did hate when a sort of salvation appeared miraculously. Miracles and the thought of them always, always cut at her insides. Not because they weren't real, but because they happened all to frequently for people to notice.

The rain began to fall by the time she was half way down the block. She pulled the hood of her light sweater up and crossed her arms over her chest. She didn't move with anymore speed as the weather continued to get worse, because her feet new where they were carrying her. By the time she reached her destination she was soaked to the bone. She walked slowly up the steps of the brownstone and rang the bell. The door opened and she looked up into hazel eyes.

"You're a mess," the woman said.

"I know." She shivered. "Do you have an umbrella I can borrow?"

The woman huffed, almost laughed. It was that indescribable sound of bemused disbelief. "Shiori, come inside and warm up. I'll get you a cup of coffee."

"Juri…"

"Hm?"

Shiori took a deep breath and thought about all the ways she wanted to ruin this moment. She thought in that lightning flash way everyone does, but shook her head and followed the woman inside the house. She felt the warmth and asked, "Do you have any tea?"