Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 11, 2018

No Place to Ever Arrive

The woman pinched the delicately dyed goose feather between her forefinger and thumb and applied it to the backing and layered it on another feather of the same color. Winding the thread around the base of the feather, she secured it in place with a half hitch knot and repeated the process again and again with saint-like patience. She noticed the young man watching her from his table and could sense his interest.

"Have you ever made one of these before?" She asked knowing very well what the answer would be.

"No." Replied the young man. "I've seen them all around, but I've never actually made one myself. It seems to be very complicated."

With a slight smile the waitress answered, "No, it's not complicated at all. All it takes is patience, focus and a willingness to see it through. Much like anything else."

 "Looks like you've been doing it for a long time. Your fingers move so effortlessly." The young man observed as best he could from where he sat.

"A long time." Chuckled the waitress. " Since I was a little girl. Usually, when it slows down here, I work on my lei hulu."

"Are you making it for someone?" The young man moved from table to the counter, bringing his cup of soda with him.

"Yes." said the waitress. "Someone's birthday is coming up in 2 days."

"What a lucky person whoever it is. It's beautiful." He couldn't help but admire the artistry of what was going to be a feather garland.

"Now, how would you know that?" The waitress said in fun. "It's not even halfway to the middle yet."

" I can see it. I can see the result of the effort and the intent," the young man observed. "How could it not turn out beautiful?"

The waitress stopped for a second and really looked at the young man for the first time since he had entered the cafe'. She could see that he was sincere. She sensed something about him which told her that he was someone who didn't just say things without thinking.

"How old are you if you don't mind my asking?"

"37." He said, taking a sip of his drink.

She was silent for a moment. Her own child would be the same age as this young man seated before her.  What was the point of making this lei hulu every year to celebrate the birthday of a child that she had never seen since it was taken from her? A whole lifetime had passed. Would she even recognize her own son today if she ran into him somewhere? Had she ever bumped into him or had he ever sat at her station at the Cafe'? She had to stop asking herself the same questions she'd been asking for 37 years.

"I'm sorry." The young man interrupted. " Did I say something wrong?"

"No, no not at all. I just got lost in my thoughts for a second. Did you need a refill?" The woman asked.

The young man's voice pulled her away from the mire of her lifelong sorrow.

"No, I'm fine." Said the young man. "Well, I have to get going but I'll be back tomorrow. I'm working on a project with my class up the road here at Pu'ukohola."

"Oh really?" He now peaked her interest on a subject that she was familiar with. "Are you an archaeologist?"

Laughing, the young man replied. "Not at all.  I'm teaching a Hawaiian studies class at U.H. Hilo and this is part of their class project. It's about Keoua coming to Pu'ukohola at the invitation of Kamehameha."

"Interesting." She said. "I'll be on tomorrow so maybe I'll see you."

"Can do, see you tomorrow! Aloha and thanks for sharing your lei hulu." With that, the young man left.

The woman's tears came without effort. She quickly made sure that she pulled herself together before continuing to make her lei hulu. It was important that she not pass on any of her sadness or heartbreak into her garland of feathers. Any good lei maker knew that something of that nature would either hinder or affect the process or the outcome of the lei itself. In spite of all that she felt, the one emotion that she did want to imbue into her project was unconditional love for her child, her son, where ever he may be.

The bell to the Cafe's door rang and as the waitress put down her project in order to serve the customer, she looked up and realized it was the young man. He was standing there in the
doorway looking at her.

" I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself." He walked over to where she was standing and shook her hand. "My name is Ola."

"Nice to meet you." The waitress replied. "I'm Rachel."

"I'm leaving for real this time. I'll see you tomorrow.." The door closed slowly behind Ola as Rachel called out after him.

"Sure thing." Her smile was slight but not a full smile although it was a smile none the less. It was something she hardly made an effort to put forth. Sure, she had to smile for the customers but her smile was like the uniform she wore. It was something she had to put on in order to get through the day. It was part of the job. Her slight smile also had to do with how humble the young man was. It wasn't a quality too many young people had nowadays. Very rare.

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