Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 22, 2020

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2020 #70


It was summer and my sister and I was tired of swimming in our pool every day. One morning we woke up early and prepared sandwiches and put them in Saran wrap.

We took a couple of cans of cola which we wrapped in tin foil to keep them cold. Then we placed everything in a brown paper bag. My mother knew that we were hiking up to the waterfall which was not too far from where we lived. "Good," she said. "That means you guys will be out of my hair for a couple of hours and I can get things done around the house."

"You won't miss us?" My sister asked.

"No," she joked.

"But you'll miss me right ma?" I chimed in.

"No, not you either," she tussled my hair and gave me a kiss on the forehead. She called my sister a brat and gave her a kiss on the cheek against her will. "Gaaah, maaaaahm!"

We were on our way. The path was a lot denser than I remembered. Exactly how long was it since we were last here with a bunch of our neighborhood friends? The branches from low lying trees were thick and it took several tries before we could move a few out of our way. Finally, we came to a clearing and there was the waterfall. It wasn't raging, not like the way we think waterfalls do, it was flowing and the falls itself was mirror clear. So was the pond, you could see straight to the bottom which really didn't look as if it were that deep. It was a deceptive view, once my sister and I dove in we instantly realized that our feet couldn't touch the bottom. "There's no bottom Freddy! Just fill your lungs with air, you'll be okay!"

"Sandy, do I kick my legs too like riding a bike?"

"No," she cautioned. "Like a frog remember?"

"Ok, I'm doing it," 

"Follow me," Sandy waved me over. We both swam to the edge of the pond and sat on the thick bed of grass a few feet away. "It's not like ocean water, in the ocean, you can float easier because it's got lots of salt in it. This is rain and cloud water, there's no salt in it so you have to work harder to stay afloat."

We went back and swam a bit more and my sister instructed me over and over again in fine details of having to swim in rain and cloud water. Sandy was really smart, she knew a lot because she read everything from books to newspapers to magazines and catalogs. Even our parents were surprised at how much information Sandy could retain. She also had her own money working as a baby sitter for a couple of neighbors up the street. One night at dinner, my dad said that Sandy couldn't marry just anyone. It had to be someone just like her, otherwise, her future husband would feel threatened by her and that was not going to bode well for their relationship. "It's better if you come to work for Daddy, that way I can keep an eye out for the right one."

My mother didn't disagree, but she also felt that Sandy had to carve out her own path in the world. Pretty progressive thinking in nineteen-seventy. 


Time slipped away because we were having so much fun. Finally, we got hungry. Sandy and I were sitting on the thick grass enjoying our ham and cheese sandwiches and our ice-cold soda. "I ordered you a Nehru coat for your birthday."

"What is that?" I asked.

"You know, the hippy coat you like from those hippy movies? The ones that the priests wear but it's from India?"

"Like Paul Mc Cartney from Seargent Pepper!" I shrieked.

"Yeah," she giggled. "Like that." She rubbed the bread crumbs from her hands and put our empty soda cans and rubbish in the brown paper bag. "We better get going before mom starts to worry."

I followed her toward the trail but then I was overcome with an urge to jump and get wet one last time before we headed home. I turned and made a dead run toward the pond. Just before I got to the edge, I made a spectacular dive into the water. I don't remember much after that. I know I've been here calling for Sandy, waiting for her to come back up the trail and get me.



Sandy turned sixty-two today. Everyone at the office surprised her with a birthday cake. She was happy of course but really, they shouldn't have. Takiyama Lumber was the number one lumber company in Hawaii. Her father was right, she was better off working for him. It's where she met the man who would become her husband. They had three kids together, Kay, Laura, and Freddy. Her husband Dexter died five years ago of a heart attack. Too much rich food and rich beer, it's not like he didn't live a full life, he did. They were very happy together. He died one morning while sitting in his office, writing out payroll checks. Nothing spectacular or dramatic, he just dozed off and never woke up. That's how Sandy hoped to go when her time came. At noon, she excused herself from the festivities and jumped in her 4Runner. While driving along the crowded freeway she thought about her mother who died in nineteen-eighty one of a massive stroke. She was just fifty-seven at the time, still very young. Sandy remembers having to grow up fast after that, her father really needed her help and she took on the mantle of responsibility without question. Soon, Sandy traversed the winding roads of her old neighborhood. Wistful memories played back like they always did. The smell of the moss from the damp weather and the old rust-colored leaves on the road reminded her of the station wagon that she and Freddy rode in after a long day of swimming at Uncle Sato's house on Makaha beach. She parked near the water reservoir and made her way through the old bamboo forest. She stayed in good shape specifically for this trek. She wouldn't let the hike defeat her because of her age. She wasn't going to fit the norm, where at sixty-two you were supposed to be weathered and worn. In less than 10 minutes she was there. She sat on the thick tuft of grass and removed two ham and cheese sandwiches from an insulated bag. She laid it at the feet of Freddy's ghost as he sat next to her. Then she unwrapped the tin foil from the cola and placed that next to the sandwich. Freddy took the essence of each item and bit into the sandwich first, and then took a sip of the cola. "You get older every time you come back, Sandy,"

"It's life Freddy, life goes on," Sandy spoke quietly.

"I should have just followed you down the trail," Freddy agreed.

"You miscalculated, you dove in too close to the edge of the pond, cracked your head open on a sharp rock," Sandy shook her head. 

"One day you won't come back,"

"One day,"

"What happens after that?" Freddy looked at his older sister.

"I'll be here, and we can swim together all the time, mom will come too,"

"Even Daddy?" Freddy hoped.

"That's up to Daddy, you know how he is,"

"Yeah," Freddy nodded. "He'll probably stay at the lumber yard."

The wind moved the canopy of trees above them and it sounded like bacon fat sizzling in a cast-iron frying pan. It was like old times where Sandy meticulously ate her sandwich while Freddy stuffed everything in his mouth. She scolded him like she always did about choking to death. They'd pause and look at each other for a second then break out laughing. The tall green bamboos clacked together in an odd mark time as if they caught on to the joke as well.

-credit Artwork by Edwin Ushiro

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