Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 25, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #69


I became stagnant water, tepid, unmoving, collecting dust, microbes, and other things which would eventually cause me to give off the unpleasant odor of apathy.
Water indeed is life ever-flowing and adapting in all its forms, but the pond that gave life to my waters damned up and ceased to flow once Matthew was gone. The following days became a routine of only going through the motions while my mind is caught in a loop of memories which only begets regrets once it dawns upon you that the presence of that beloved person is a mass of floating dust occupying the space where they once breathed. To wake, to move through the day, only to come home to nothingness and loneliness becomes a heavyweight that slumps the shoulders and droops the eyes. Add on another pound of questioning the purpose of your life up until that moment, and you'll notice your taste buds begin to dull. Not even the spice of life excites your palate.

That has been living without Matthew.


The time was 1:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday when my doorbell rang. I sat there on the living room floor and chose not to answer, but forty minutes later, the doorbell is still ringing. Right about then, my phone pings with a text. It's you, my sister.

"Answer the door stupid,"

I heave myself off of the living room floor and lumber to my front door. Looking into the peephole, I see you standing there with your middle finger defiantly waving back and forth. Unlocking the door, I purposely creak it open very slowly because I know you hate that sound. You used your whole body to push open the portal, nearly hitting me in the face. In your hand, you are carrying a large plastic bag. In the other a bag with two plate lunches.

"I got lunch for us. I figure we can eat first before you help me make these lei, but now I'm so pissed off at you, I'm gonna eat it myself while you watch. What the fuck is wrong with you?" You've always been this way, my sister. Ultimately your mother's daughter.

"You know what's wrong, the world should know what's wrong," I droned as I attempted to plop myself back on the couch.

"No!" You barked. "Get off that fucking couch and get over your grief for today, I need your help, so I need you to be focused."

You removed a large piece of material with a Kapa motif on it and spread it out evenly on the living room floor until the wrinkles were gone. You removed a smaller plastic bag from the bigger one and turned it over. Palai ferns and large clusters of red lehua fell out. The smell of Palai itself was a heady and captivating aroma that did something to the senses once you inhaled its beguiling fragrance. It's the reason that many Hawaiian chants and songs are written. Of course, one can only appreciate the experience if one's senses are not dulled by grief.

"Eh!" You snapped your fingers in front of my face. "Getchur head out of your ass!"

You sat on the material, and I sat on the opposite side of you. You hand me a pair of scissors and a large roll of raffia along with a water spray bottle. I place everything in front of me, and we join hands. You bowed your head and prayed. You asked our ancestors to guide our hands and hearts so that the lei we are about to weave will reflect the wisdom of their guidance. When you finished, I looked at you, and I asked, "Your prayers are so ornate, and yet you swear at me like a sailor."

"Our Kupuna understand my burden, das why," you shook your head while you tied off the raffia.

"What burden?" I grumble vehemently at you. You glared at me with your head tilted to one side.


An hour later and the backing is braided and tied off. The work is progressing as we alternately apply Palai and Lehua. Your hands are nimble, and you pull back and tie off the raffia after placing two Palai, then Lehua. Three Palai, then Lehua. The process is therapeutic in that it forces you to pay attention lest you ere, and the end result is less than perfect. I begin to fall into a rhythm, but you stay on my case so that my mind doesn't wander. Even if I make a mistake and I don't say anything about it, you'll notice that my breathing pattern changes.

"You know, if you practiced more, you could actually become better than me," you said with a strand of raffia between your teeth.

"No one's better than you," I told you sarcastically.

"I'm serious," your voice raised just at the end of your statement. You were genuinely sincere.

"I'll take that compliment since there's hardly a one that falls from your mouth when it comes to me," You picked up a clump of the Lehua that you were not able to use and threw it at me.

"Do you have any music that we can listen to?" You asked while applying the pattern of fern, then flower.

"Probably not the kind you like," I replied.

"Anything is fine as long as it's mellow," you shook your head while eyeing your work. I pair my phone with my Bluetooth speaker, and it unfurls the melodic sounds of Neil Young. No reply from you, just a swaying of your body and a slight bounce of your head. Another hour and we are finally complete, you examine your work and lay it out before you. You spray it down with water, and you lean across from your space and spray mine as well. I get up and go to my hallway cabinet to gather old newspapers. We spray them down until they're damp, and then we lay the lei in it and cover it up. I also bring out two empty Tupperware containers, which will fit both lei for you to take back with you.

With everything eventually cleaned up and put away, you give me a hug and kiss and then a loving punch on the shoulder. "Answer your door next time."

"Thanks for checking up on me," I look at you knowing what your real reasons were for coming over.

"Love you," you ignore me and let yourself out. I could hear the slap of your rubber slippers walking down three flights of stairs until you finally got to the bottom.



What you're reading now is what I transcribed of our whole day together. It's just a random thing that I thought to do, but I just want you to know that I love and appreciate you trying. I won't forget that. I left the door open because I know you'll come back here after you read this. I know you tried, I tried too. When you find me, don't blame yourself.

Love you



I became stagnant water, tepid, unmoving, collecting dust, microbes, and other things which would eventually cause me to give off the unpleasant odor of apathy. This is living without Matthew.

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