Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 12, 2022

Who? 2022

My sister is a lively and vicarious person.

So full of life and very much a lot of fun to be around, and very sincere, honest, and intrinsically a good human being. As siblings growing up, we never had the rivalry that brothers and sisters usually have. She was older than me, so she took good care of me and ensured that I was well-fed and finished my homework on time. That required her to help me study a lot, even when I didn't want to. For a big sister, she had a lot of patience. Sissy's junior year in high school, she made friends with a boy named Irvin Kinjō. He was just as lively and fun as she was, and they were quite a pair. Among her host of friends, Sissy spent the most time with Irvin. He always brought food to the house like the triangle musubi with the umē and the hot dogs with the shoyu chicken and corned beef hash and the cone sushi. Heʻd bring me a can of Pepsi with a bento box of my own, and we would sit in the kitchen and eat and hang out until Sissy was ready. My mom and dad liked Irvin; heʻd jump in if he came over and saw my dad and myself raking the yard, or heʻd politely ask my mom if she wanted him to wash the dishes or take out the trash. The good thing about Irvin is that he was never intrusive. Irvinʻs mom was a librarian at the high school where he and Sissy went, and his father worked for the stateʻs transportation department. They were good people and fun, just like Irvin. One day, Sissy came home from school in tears, which shocked me because I had never seen my sister sad before. I mean, she cried during sad movies or when my parents gave her her first Hawaiian bracelet, but nothing like this. She locked herself in her room and didnʻt come out until the following day, and that was only to go to school. She was like that for a whole month. As the days went on, Sissy got sick. She wouldnʻt eat, she wouldnʻt drink anything. All she wanted to do was sleep. My parents took her to a doctor who told them nothing was physically wrong; she just needed some nourishment and exercise. In his personal opinion, he equated Sissyʻs condition as being teenage emotional trauma. "It probably has to do with a boy," he whispered to my parents. Which led them to ask her why she wouldnʻt see any of her friends when they came to check up on her. "I just donʻt want to talk to anyone," she croaked from under her blanket. All that time had passed, and it never occurred to us that Irvin hadnʻt been around ever since Sissy fell into her funk. "I dunno," he told my mom over the speakerphone. "She wonʻt talk to me at school, she wonʻt answer my calls or texts, so I dunno," he said. Sissy got worse; it got so bad that she couldnʻt go to school, so they sent a tutor to come over to the house and work with her so she wouldnʻt fall behind. One evening, we heard a horrific scream from upstairs. We heard Sissyʻs door slam open and rushing down the steps, practically tripping over her feet was the tutor. "Ghost!" She screamed. "A fucking ghost in that room! Itʻs choking her, and when I tried to stop it, it choked me!" There were angry black and blue fingerprints around the tutorʻs throat as evidence that she wasnʻt just making it up. My parents rushed upstairs and ran into Sissyʻs room. What they saw was horrific. It was Irvin, sitting on Sissyʻs chest with his mouth over hers.

A white glowing mist came out of her mouth as Irvin inhaled it into his. Irvin was a ghost in that he was not only transparent but intermittently translucent, which to our knowledge, was impossible because Irvin was very much alive. My parents tried to shield me from seeing it all, but it was too late. It was right there, playing itself out in front of me. "IRVIN!" My dad screamed at him. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING???" The look on Irvinʻs face was one of shock and dismay. His form slowly disappeared right in front of us, and in a nano-second, he was gone. My dad immediately called his brother, our uncle Timothy on Kauai, a kahuna, and told him what happened. "Iʻm leaving on the first flight out, Teddy," he said to my dad. "First things first, we have to nurse Sissy back to health. Then, we take care of the living spirit."

"What is that?" My dad asked him.

"Iʻll tell you when I get there," my uncle Timothy replied.


Sissy would fully recover through my uncleʻs lāʻau, a Hawaiian medicinal treatment. What we didnʻt know was that at the same time, my uncle was also communicating to Irvinʻs ghost or spirit. It turns out that all along, Irvin was in love with Sissy. When he finally confessed his love for her, Sissy apologized if she had led him to think otherwise, but she didn't feel the same way about him. To her, Irvin was like me, a brother. Irvin assured her that she had not led him on but that it was by the sheer grace of her personality and sincere nature that he began to have an affection for her as the days went on. After that, things got awkward between the two of them until the point where Irvin started to ignore her completely. That really hurt my sister because she had done nothing wrong to Irvin except to be who she was. "This is an Okinawan thing," uncle Timothy told my parents. "Ichijama, they call it. Like a curse, the person still alive sends itʻs own ghost or spirit to haunt another person. Itʻs passed down in certain Okinawan families, but the thing is that no one knows who the family is because itʻs kept a secret. We wouldnʻt have known about Sissyʻs friend if this didnʻt happen. Anyway, I sent it back. Something should happen soon, so you should see proof."

Sissy got better after that and made it back to school, and passed her junior year. Irvin transferred to Jame Campbell High School in ʻEwa Beach. We never saw him again after that. It hurt all of us because we liked Irvin a lot. But, more so, it hurt Sissy, not just in her heart but literally to the depths of her soul because when my sister rejected Irvinʻs affection, thatʻs what he tried to take. 

Her soul. 

Credit Matthew Meyer

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