Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 14, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #78

 As a kid, I only half paid attention to the warnings my parents gave me. I was too busy being a kid. What did I care about stepping on a crack and planting ti-leaf around the yard? 

What was hanging an open pair of scissors or a deer horn over your door supposed to do? I mean, really? A story comes to mind that my mother once told me while we were on a weekend drive to Pearlridge. It concerned the legend of Kahalopuna, the goddess of Mānoa. In the latter part of the story, she proved that she was flesh and blood to her betrothed Kauhi by walking on a path of ʻape leaves. They easily tear apart if trampled upon by human feet, but by a spirit, the velvety leaf is left unharmed. The rainbow goddess passed the test while protecting her spirit sisters at the same time. The purpose of the experiment was for her betrothed to prove that Kahalaopuna was a spirit and could not be the same person he confessed to having murdered. Alas, Kauhi failed the very test he put in place that he might prove that Kahalaopuna was an impostor. She was indeed human. He was baked alive in an imu for his erroneous efforts.  

"Thatʻs why we plant ʻape leaf all around our house," my mother said.

"So, that Kahalaopuna can come and step on it?" I asked.

"NO!" My mother growled. "So weʻre protected by evil spirits!"

At my motherʻs behest, because she was buckled in and could not maneuver herself correctly, I leaned forward so she could apply a slap to my head.



Travis and I had been dating on and off for a year. It was casual, weʻve never been over to the house or apartment of the other. It didnʻt become anything serious until one night after our millionth dinner we decided to go back to my place. Before they passed away, my parents had saved up a substantial inheritance for me, and the old house came with it. We held hands on the drive back, and we mostly made small talk because of how nervous we were. The garage to my place was in the back of the house, so I told Travis I would have to drop him off in the front and that heʻd have to wait for me. 

"No problem," he chuckled. "Iʻve waited this long, whatʻs another few minutes going to hurt?"

I drove my car right up to the front walkway. He let himself out, and the romantic in me wanted to watch him walk up to the door. I mused that this could become a permanent thing and that soon it would be he and I walking up to our own front door, hand in hand and maybe later with our family. He was nearing the front steps when something caught my eye; I didnʻt notice it right away, but something was off. It was the ʻape leaves; they grew in such profusion around my house that they lay across the walkway like small green throw rugs. He stepped on them, first one, and then three, and then a bunch. 


Nothing happened; the leaf from each plant did not tear apart, nor did the stem tear away from the corm. It was completely untouched. Iʻm not sure how long Travis waited or dissolved into nothing after realizing I was never coming back. I kept driving until I reached Mokuleia, and even then, I was still afraid that somehow he was going to find me. I got on the phone with my aunt and asked her to sell the house for me; I also asked her to hire a bunch of movers who could put everything in storage. "I have to move," I told my aunty Myrna. 

"Are you in trouble or what?" She asked in the same tone as my mother.

"The less you know, the better," I replied and hung up.


Today I live in a lovely house in Portland. Luckily, the Portland soil has been good for my ʻape leaves. They are so tall that they practically engulf the home and cover most of the walkway to the front door. As for my friends, we always meet out somewhere, or we go to someoneʻs place. I always joke that I am an obsessive hoarder, which is why parties or get-togethers never happen at my home. I wished Iʻd listened to my mother.

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