Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 3, 2016

"Yesterday I Heard The Rain"

The two things I found joy in was watching her as she slept and watching her while she ate, for those were the two moments in which I always felt that she was truly herself. I hold myself responsible for her addiction to french fries because I’m the one who introduced her to the delectably addictive treat. During her toddler years, I would bring home a container of saimin and crimped fries and feed it to her in small bites. It became her favorite snack until she was big enough to occupy the booth across from me at the old Grace’s Drive Inn at Market City. That’s where her after school musings would fill the conversations with books she had read or conversations she had with her classmates. In between inhaling her noodles and eating her french fries she would wax poetic in regards to the teachers she did like. As for the teachers she didn’t like, she was blunt about it, no lyrical descriptions filled her delivery. It was to the point with a raised eyebrow for emphasis. In the evenings while she slept, I couldn’t help but notice how innocent her face was and how much she looked like her same infant self that I held in my arms when she came into the world via c-section.

There were mornings where we would wake up and head out to get our favorite french fries. Of course, she developed my penchant for being territorial where her fries were concerned; she didn’t share and neither did I. This is why we always had to have our own bag to ourselves. However, it was fine if she stole french fries from my pile but I couldn’t take from her pile. Once that conundrum was out of the way, I would drive her to a place of cultural significance and sanctity and explain to her the history of said location. Although we were connected to some of those places by blood ties from ancient times, it never crossed my mind if she even understood anything I was saying, what was important to me was that I plant that seed of knowledge into her subconscious, hoping that one day it would surface. That was something I would do often because I felt that these were things she needed to know. Maybe knowing her heritage was not a life skill that would benefit her in her career in the future, but it would serve the spiritual foundation that she may have to rely on one day.

Yesterday I heard the rain and in the din of that sound which may as well have been bubble wrap, I thought I heard my daughter calling me. It did not feel strange or out of place but it felt like yesterday's memories, except the memory was a reality. I turned away from my laptop and waited for her to appear as she always did. There she was, her seven-year-old self, standing in front of me in her pair of blue shorts and an off-white shirt,

“I did something wrong,” she murmured softly.

“Did what wrong?” I asked her.

She walked away and I followed. Suddenly we were on the lanai of our old La’au Street apartment and she showed me the “F” word written out in her handwriting on the wall next to the sliding door. It wasn’t done with a pen or a crayon but with whiteout. Tears were brimming from her eyes and I asked her why she felt that she had to write that word out like that? She shrugged her shoulders and had no answer, but I wasn’t going to accept that.

“I’m not mad, but you’re going to tell me why you did this,” I was firm and I made sure that we made eye contact.

“I thought I could write it and then it would rub off, but it didn’t,” she confessed.

“You heard this word in school,” I said, “and you’ve seen it written down somewhere,  isn’t that why you did it?”

She nodded again and had no reply.

“We’re gonna keep this between the two of us and we won’t tell mom, otherwise she’ll just lose her mind,” I told her.

“Okay,” she agreed and then she broke down and apologized. I took her in my arms and reassured her that everything was alright but that she could never repeat such a thing again. After, I got some WD-40 and sprayed it on the whiteout and let it sit for a few minutes and had her clean it off the wall with a scouring pad. It would have been simpler to do by blasting it with water from a garden hose but we lived on the third floor.

“Go get changed,” I smiled. “We’re going down to the pool,”

She squealed with excitement and as I followed her into the living room, I suddenly found that I was back in my Kaimuki house heading to my desk. My swivel chair was right where I left it, the only difference was that my daughter was not here but the deluge of rain still fell outside my window. Of all the things to remember on a rainy day, of all things to vividly relive with such clarity, of all things that would make a memory so tangible that I could actually feel my daughter in my arms. Why did it have to be that memory? What did it mean? I have no answer, but if it ever rains again the way it did yesterday, maybe I will hear her call me and I’ll ask her seven-year-old self why these memories are so palpable?

In the meantime, I believe I will head to W&M’s for a huge bag of french fries.

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