Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 5, 2019

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2019 #28


Kehau was surprised to see just how many young girls there were at the clinic, some as young as thirteen. Many of them were accompanied by their mothers and grandmothers, other girls had no one, like herself. They were all like her by the fact that each girl was afraid. 
Kehau considered her own circumstance, which would bring her to this clinic. It had to do with her mother, who openly regretted her life and continuously wished that she had not been burdened with raising a child by herself.

"No man in his right mind wants a ready-made family," she would say while talking on the phone with a friend. "Even if the right man came along right now, I'm screwed."

Those words embedded itself into Kehau conscious over the years, and now, while sitting in the clinic, she could hear it in her memory like a Greek chorus. She didn't bother to tell her boyfriend Titus about her decision because, in the end, it's her body. Her choice is something she would have to live with either way. Was she really doing the right thing, or was this all based on generational guilt? Guilt, yes, that word again. Her mother guilted her more than she loved her and her father? Who knows? Kehau grew up only hearing her mother's version of how her father left her without a word, but why? Why mom? WHY did he go? There was never an answer to that question, just more guilt, and more blame on her own circumstances and on Kehau. Her mother never openly said it, but the implications were always there. Looking around, she noticed that there were no magazines to read, just a lot of Reader's digest and Chicken Soup for The Soul. Somehow she expected to see more pamphlets about self-choice and so on.

"Is anyone sitting here?" A tall Hawaiian man stood in front of her, pointing at the empty seat. It seemed to be the only available chair in the whole clinic.

"Oh no," she replied. "Go ahead."

The Hawaiian man took his seat, and after, he offered his hand to Kehau, "I'm Peter, I thought I'd just introduce myself so it wouldn't be awkward."

Shaking Peter's hand, she felt how soft and supple his skin was in spite of how tall and muscular he was. "I'm Kehau."

"It's nice to meet you," Peter replied. Soon, he settled back and picked up a copy of an old Reader's Digest, and for the next hour, he sat there utterly silent while turning each page one by one. Within that time, all the other women went in for their appointments, Others left with their mothers and or partners not looking anymore happy than they did when the first arrived.

"You're still here?" Peter asked. "I got lost in this book, and I didn't notice, are you still waiting?"

"No," Kehau said. "I haven't even gone up to talk to anyone and sign in."

"You're by yourself," Peter stated more than he asked.

"Yes," Kehau smiled but mildly irritated. "I mean, it's obvious, right?"

"I didn't mean to be.....I'm sorry I'll shut up," Peter grabbed another Reader's Digest and moved to another empty seat.

"No," Kehau assured him, "I'm just agitated, it's my fault."

"No worries," Peter smiled and put the digest down.

"What about you?" Kehau asked. "What are you doing here? Are you waiting for someone?"

"Yes," Peter confirmed. "I am waiting for someone."

"Oh, is it your daughter or something?" Kehau asked only because Peter seemed older than his twenties and so she assumed he didn't come with his girlfriend or wife.

"No, I'm waiting for my mother," Peter walked over and sat next to her.

"Your mother?" Kehau didn't mean to react so incredulously, but she was pretty sure that more mature women didn't come to a clinic like this one.

"I'm a doctor, you see," Peter began. "The first one of my kind in my family, especially a Hawaiian doctor."

"What kind of doctor are you?" Kehau was impressed, and if the circumstances were different, she'd be pressing him for more information, like his phone number.

"That depends," Peter replied.

"Depends on what?" Kehau asked.

"It depends on what my mother decides," Peter answered. "Choice and cause and effect are the same thing. Whatever a person decides in each given moment is an effect, short and long term, it's an effect. I hope she decides correctly."

"What if she doesn't?" Kehau asked.

"I'm hoping she does," Peter held Kehau's hand in his and shook it gently. "It was nice meeting you."

"Nice meeting you," Kehau stood up, and the two exchanged a hug. "Oh, what's your mom's name if you don't mind my asking?"

"Kara," Peter answered as he walked toward the elevators near the lobby. "Kara Martin."

Kehau waved good-bye and then lost sight of him as he seemed to disappear into the crowd of people waiting for the elevator. Gathering her sweater and her bag, she made the decision to leave. There was no sense in staying at the clinic. Her mother's life was what she made of it, Kehau's entity didn't have to mirror that of the woman who birthed her. Grabbing her purse by the thick strap, she swung it around on to her shoulders but forgot that the zipper was open. The contents came spilling out across the waiting room floor, in a huff, she knelt down and retrieved everything.  Wipes, personal feminine items, coin purse, wallet, and oh yes, her driver's license. Looking at it briefly before she tucked it into the side of her bag, she was confused at first. Then she sat back in her chair and thought for a second, then she gasped. "What? What? What!"

It didn't register when Peter was kind enough to tell Kehau what his mother's name was, until now. Printed on her driver's license was her full name, "Kara Kehau Martin."

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