Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 21, 2021


The pillows sank beneath his weight, receiving him like an old friend. His college days were long gone, and the memories of them were like yellowed pages in an old novel sitting in a box of other books at the back of his closet. So what else was there to do except sit and write?

His parents were long gone, and while cleaning up, he realized there were things his parents hung on to that did not serve them well. The alcohol, the cartons of cigarettes, and the cans of foods like corned beef, sardines, hash, and Vienna sausage. Then there was the altar of every collectible idol of Catholicism his parents owned. It was a tribute to clutter more than it was to God. It reminded him of the years of their pain and suffering, not the happiness and fun times which were few and far between.

Once those things were cleared away, he scraped the old paint and gave it a more precise and calming color. He hung plants and ferns around the interior. He could feel the house provide a sigh of relief as he filled the old cracks and crevices with a spackle that complimented it, not taken away from it. The rattan furniture had become termite eaten, and the cushions were filled with the smell of his parent's aged past. He could tell the difference between the father's aroma he acquired from a day of hard labor, and the aroma of his mother, which smelled of defeat and resignation. It hurt to dispose of it, but it needed to be cleared away and forgotten like all the other things, emotions, and feelings. The new furniture which occupied the space was sparse; there were more oversized throw pillows here and there, along with a singular bed. He broke down every wall in the home so that no separation of space and energy existed. In the kitchen, everyone sat on the floor with a pillow beneath them and a small fold-out table before them where they would take dinner. Doors and windows are open and are never closed, and no one intrudes. He now needed to write a long-overdue letter. The pillows sank beneath his weight, receiving him like an old friend. On his laptop, he opened his e-mail, clicked on the compose icon, and began to write.

Mom and Dad,

How can I tell you that I wished I had been a better son rather than a burden upon you? My illness as a child caused you many sleepless hours of worry and prayers. Money that could have made your lives easier was spent on doctor's visits, medication, and stays at the hospital rather than that plot of land you intended to buy on the Big Island. By the time I had become a teenager who needed cool clothes, I hardly had a cent left except for what was necessary for the rent and the bills. Therefore, my fashion sense was based on what was available from the Salvation Army. All the while, I was spoiled and ungrateful. I wish I had known then what I know now; then, I would have had a better sense of what duty I owed to you both and to show my appreciation by working harder, thereby relieving you of any worry. But instead, I complained about what I did not have instead of appreciating what I did have. Which was a home, a warm bed, a full belly, and parents who loved me no matter what. So, practicing filial piety, I moved back home and bought an old house. I've fixed it up a bit, so in case your ghosts come to visit, you wonʻt be surprised at how it looks nothing like you remember. But, I have filled it with as much love and light as possible in one space.

I've hung a picture of you together that was taken at your twenty-fifth-anniversary party. So that you can watch over every bit of life that comes and goes in this space. It is the least I can do after a lifetime of what you have done for me, your ungrateful son. Oh! I have also begun to plant a medicinal garden around the yard like you wanted, and the mango tree is now fruitful. Unfortunately, Dad, the outside fridge is filled with juices and healthy drinks. Not to worry, I donated your beer to uncle Ted since he liked German dark a lot. He was very appreciative.


He pressed send and heard it received on the old Mac that he had helped his mother set up only a few years ago. It's the one thing he did not throw out for some reason. Lyle heard the tone of his e-mail on his phone a minute later. It was the Scooby-Doo laugh. He opened the e-mail, which was a reply to the one he had just sent to his parents a minute ago. It was a smiley face and heart emoji. 

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