Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 16, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #15

 My hands no longer have the dexterity they once did when weaving a lei of different flowers and ferns was as effortless as breathing.

The process was and still is therapeutic. One cannot create a lei entirely if one is upset, out of sorts, or even heartbroken. Those adverse emotions will become the lei that you wili, and alas, for the one who wears it. It is difficult to hold the wili taut while placing the alternating flower and fern in their fixed patterns, but today, the discomfort is worth the effort. The ferns are palapalai, and the flowers are Chinese jasmine, or as we call it here, pikake. For me, it holds a bittersweet fragrance that elicits love and heartbreak. Not the romantic kind, but the type attributed to a life that should have been long and fruitful but was cut short by an unfair destiny, which seems senseless in the overall picture. One fern to the left and wili, one in the middle and wili. One fern to the right and wili. Place the pikake in the middle and wili. Repeat until pau, your hands and fingers cramp up, and you must sit back and take a deep breath. You breathe in pain and exhale it out of the pores of your skin.

My fingernails are stained green from the palai, but its heady fragrance, joined with the pikake, is worth it. When I was younger, she appeared almost at will without invocation or chant on my part. I came to believe it might have been how I wove my words together. They were truthful, not missing a fact, but added that bit of paʻakai to give the words a morsel of flavor that would leave a taste of her story on the tongues of those who came to listen. This continued for a few years until COVID-19 befell us, and Waikīkī became closed off. When all opened once more, and I was free to return to her home, she did not manifest. Of course, she was not obligated to, but the frequency of her absence over time moved me to discontinue my visits. However, it did not stop me from offering a lei of palai and pikake each year on her birthday. At ninety-eight years of age, the walk to the corner of Kānekapolei and Kuhiō has proven difficult, and the knees and hips are not what they once were.

Of course, wheelchairs and walkers are made available to me, but I must travel on my own, using the mana I have to move my body, for it is with all I have that I must make the offering of this lei of mine. I chose the late night to do this because of the quiet and less populated area. I am finally here. I croak forth an oli aloha and hold the lei above my lowered head. Step by slow step, I inch forward and place the garland of flowers at her feet. The sigh that leaves my body takes tears with it, which fall freely, not being wiped away. The tears are her hoʻokupu from myself as well.


The following year, on October 16, 2060, the throng of people waited patiently for the ghost of the old Hawaiian man to manifest and leave his lei of palai and pikake. They waited with nano-cameras and recorders to put to posterity the chant that the ghost of the old Hawaiian man offered every year. The hour of four was nigh, and all in attendance held their breath. A soothing breeze swept through the crowd, raising the hackles on each person's neck. The ghost appeared as it did each year, hobbling forward, holding the lei above his head, and laying it at the feet of the princess. To everyone's shock and surprise, the princess's ghost also manifested. A gasp arose from the crowd, and time seemed to set everything and everyone to pause. Her beautiful, slender hands reached down and received the lei she placed around her neck. She then reached down, grasped the old Hawaiian man by his hands, and lifted him up to where she stood. He fell into her arms like an infant needing to slumber in its mother's arms. A glowing warmth emanated from the two as the tableau slowly dissolved with the gentle wind that swept through the crowd. The ghost of the old Hawaiian man never appeared again, and until this day, no one knows who he was or where he may have come.

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