Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Feb 9, 2022

Sikki 2022

Nick, of all people, was entirely unaffected when Daddy Sikki passed away.

I lifted him so he could see Daddy and give him his last goodbye. "See ya," Daddy whispered to Nick as he breathed his last. "See ya," Nick said knowingly as if he was going to see Daddy later. So you see, Nick was right there as Daddy let out a long breath, closed his eyes, and died right in front of him. Needless to say, everyone lost it except for Nick. Once I put him down, he went off to the kitchen and sat at the table, making himself busy with consuming a few donuts and pouring a glass of milk.

At Daddy's services, Nick would periodically say to no one in particular, "What a party, huh? All these people are here just to see Daddy. He's really tickled!" None of us thought anything of it because we passed it off as the innocent musings of an eight-year-old. However, in April, when Nick had his ninth birthday at home, his friends and the entire family were invited. Being the youngest, he got a ton of presents, and our parents paid for that giant inflatable water slide and a bounce house, which, when I think about it, was muted out by the acreage I call our backyard. Nick was a good host, ensuring his classmates and friends were well-fed and got a party gift. He told us that he wanted to open his presents later when it was just us. Otherwise, he seemed interested in something other than his own birthday party. I was taking a piss in the upstairs bathroom when I looked out back and saw Nick wandering off on his own with a plate of his birthday cake and a fork. He was headed to the enormous mango tree outback, where two swings hung from thick pieces of rope our father brought home from the docks. Once there, he began eating his cake and conversing by himself. He pointed and gestured with his fork, giggling every now and again. When he was done, he put his empty plate down, placed the fork on top of it, and got on the swing. Nick began to swing back and forth as he kicked his little legs out. Suddenly, the empty swing next to him started moving on its own. My little brother just happened to look up, and when he saw me looking at him from the bathroom window, he jumped off his swing, and the one next to him stopped in mid-air and then dropped as if someone had gotten off of it. Nick grabbed his plate and fork and walked back to the house. I finished up, ran downstairs, out the back door, and met Nick in the yard. Picking him up, I brought him back out to the swings, asking him the whole time, "Why was that swing moving on its own? Who were you talking to?"

"Let me go!" He wiggled out of my arms and landed on the grass. 

"That swing was moving by itself, Nick! Who were you talking to?" I demanded.

"Are you blind?" He screamed at me. "He was right there, plain as day; he was the one who told me that you were looking at us!"

"Who told you? I don't even know what you're talking about," I was confused. 

"Daddy Sikki," my little brother looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world.

Somewhere between that and the opening of Nick's presents after everyone had left, I told my parents about what I saw and what Nick claimed was Daddy Sikki swinging next to him even though no one was there. My mom said they would talk to him later but that we shouldn't spoil Nick's big day for now. My little brother got some really cool presents, but the whole time, he kept giggling to himself as if he had some kind of secret that he was holding in. "What's so funny, hun?" My mom laughed, too. 

"Nothing," Nick shrugged his shoulders and tried stifling his laughter.

"Are you sure?" Dad asked. "Because it seems quite funny!"

Nick looked off to the side of where my parents sat, as if someone were telling him something. Then he looked directly at my mom and dad: "Daddy Sikki said you continually wear the same dress for everything, parties, birthdays, funerals. So he says something's wrong with you and you must check yourself. He says it's because you never got over Dad's affair with the lady at his job."

There was dead silence in the room. My sisters and I looked at our parents and then at each other. Then, for the first time ever, my mom hit Nick. She got up from where she was sitting, walked over to him, and slapped him hard across his face, leaving a huge red welt on his cheek. My dad jumped up and yelled at her, "Myra! What the hell are you doing?" 

But it was too late; my mom was wide-eyed and livid. "You shut the fuck up, Henry!" Now, turning her attention to Nick, my mom was taken aback that Nick wasn't even crying; he sat there, glaring at her. She drew her hand back a second time, and suddenly, all the presents flew off the table in different directions, shooting across the room. The whole house shook like an earthquake, and as suddenly as it began, all the commotion stopped. In the silence of the aftermath, a disembodied voice seemed to come from where Nick sat. It was Daddy Sikki. "You lay one more hand on this boy, and that will be a day you will live to regret!"

Our parents had a massive fight after that; the rest of us took Nick with us to Zippy's, where we sat and ate well into the late hours. We asked Nick about Daddy Sikki, and he told us that Daddy wasn't ready to go away just yet, that he had something he had to get off his chest, so he decided to hang around until the time was right. For the sake of us kids, our parents didn't get a divorce right away, but because we had a ten-bedroom house, they moved to opposite ends of our domicile. Mom would meet a man at her job who showed up for a job interview one day, except that he was in the wrong building. She walked him to the sidewalk and pointed out the location he was looking for. Within that time, it seemed like they'd known one another forever. After he got hired, the man stopped by my mother's office with some flowers and a bag of Colombian coffee as a token of his thanks to her for showing him the right way. They began seeing each other after that. Our dad worked mainly on fixing himself. He'd have the occasional female friend now and again, but it never became anything serious. Once he saw that Mom was happy with someone else, he filed for a divorce so she could be with the person she loved. Dad stayed single until the day he died.

We all went on to live our lives; each of my sisters got married and had families of their own, as did I. Because the house was passed down to us, we expanded and built a few more homes on our property until it looked like a compound, but we were never far from one another. As for Nick? He was the only one who moved out on his own once he graduated college. Today, if you bring it up to him, Nick will tell you that he has no memory beyond when Daddy Sikki died at home. Everything after that is one big blur. Because Nick and Daddy were so close in life, Daddy needed a way to come back and tell his daughter (Mom) that she needed to start living and stop walking around like the dead. The only way he figured he could do that was through Nick. 


  1. What a great story! Good for all of you to get on with your lives.