Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 2, 2022

Lana 2022

The light coming up over the horizon is a dull, muted color until the dark purples and slight oranges begin to manifest.

The full brilliance of the sunrise won't happen for another twenty minutes, but this is the part of it that I've learned to appreciate most when it's still in its humble infancy; much like myself, still very much human. It could only have been at this point in my life when I could afford to own a house on the beach directly facing the expansive tableau of rabbit island and the like that I could witness such beauty. Otherwise, who knows where I might have ended up spending the last few days of my mortal life? I want to die quietly, alone, a burden to no one. Looking at the water over the sea wall on my property, I saw a head pop up and a hand waving at me. The owner smiled; her hair was soaking wet, indicating she'd just come out of the ocean. Had she been swimming? Who knows?

"There's a dead shark here on your wall; I don't know how it got there," she shrugged her shoulders. "Just thought I'd let you know!"

"Shit," I sighed as I let myself out through the back gate and took the stairs down the beach. The woman was right; it was a tiger shark about twelve feet. The tide can get high sometimes, but the breakers are too big for even a shark this size to get through. "How'd this thing get up here?" I asked myself out loud, not really intending to make conversation with this woman. But, I finally got a good look at her. She was Hawaiian, middle-aged, in a wetsuit top and board shorts. She was staring at me like she was there for another purpose other than letting me know there was a dead shark. At first, I thought she might have been a drug addict with her cohorts hiding somewhere, prepared to jump me and take my wallet, which I did not have. But her eyes and her body language told me this was something else. 

"What?" I asked her. "What do you want? What's going on? Do I know you?"

"Are you enjoying the sunrise?" She asked.

"What?" I was perplexed and annoyed. "What do you mean?"

"Did you enjoy the sunrise?" She asked again.

"Yeah," I shrugged my shoulders. "Why?"

"Go back into your living room, then come back out here," she gestured her head toward my home.

"Whatever," I shook my head and left. When I entered my home through the back door and returned to the place where I was standing, enjoying the quietude of the early sunrise, I saw the point of what she had instructed me to do. I returned to the beach where she was waiting. The twelve-foot tiger shark was no longer on my wall; it was swimming gently in the waters inside the breaker. 

"We've been trying to get your attention, but for some reason, nothing seemed to work until I decided to show myself to you in this form," she said. "We couldn't seem to get you out of the house."

"I understand strangely enough," I replied. "You're death; come to take me."

"No," she gently shook her head. "I'm your 'ohana, one of those many times over grandmothers from our ancient past. This shark is our 'aumakua; he's here to guide you to Kānehūnāmoku."

She saw the confusion on my face, and she smiled. "I'm sorry, but you did not die alone as you wanted even though you saw your own body laying dead on your carpet. We've been with you the whole time, waiting to escort you."

"Look," I pointed to the full brilliance of the sun coming up over the horizon, bringing with it the new day. 

"That is how death works," she said with such a warm tone that I began to cry. "Death happens so that life can begin anew so that the next sunrise can greet us after a long night of darkness. It's a simple transition, a simple truth we've seen our whole lives, never knowing that we'd been witnessing the secret of life all along."

I understood and willingly went with my ancient grandmother and our 'aumakua.

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