Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 28, 2022

'O wai ? 2022

 A five-acre property sat overlooking the waters of Honomū on the big island.

On it sat an eight-bedroom home with all the fixings of a modern-day, twenty-three million dollar ranchers-styled mansion. Beautiful lush green grass surrounded the property, juxtaposed by an azure blue Olympic-styled swimming pool. A large Hale Pili, a Hawaiian hut fashioned from pili grass, sat in the easternmost corner of the property. The sides were open so that wind could pass through. It also symbolized freedom and no restrictions for the group that gathered for a weekend retreat. The host was Terrance Larter, who owned the property, and the retreat's purpose was to bring healing to people who had experienced the loss of a child. It was through these kinds of retreats that the man became a multi-millionaire. For Terrance, it started out as a complete scam. But the longer he hosted those retreats, the more the stories of the people who lost their children began to affect him. That is when he decided to become legitimate. He put himself through school and got a degree in family psychology, but he also began to study how other cultures worldwide dealt with the loss of their little ones. But he also understood that a loss like that never goes away, which was not the retreat's purpose. It was not to forget but to heal. Thus, he sat in the hale pili with two couples and a single mom in her early thirties who also happened to be pregnant. The retreat opened with a prayer from each participant so that all present could bless the weekend to come. Then, introductions went around, beginning with the first couple who sat across from Terrance. 

"Weʻre Davis and Pili Hoʻomau," Davis began. Everyone returned the introduction with a greeting of Aloha. 

"Funny, our last name is Hoʻomau because one of the meanings is to mate, to have children," Pili couldnʻt finish her sentence. Davis held his wife close and gently rubbed her shoulder. "It's nice to meet all of you; I hope we can have a successful weekend?"

The next couple was Alan Tengan and his girlfriend, Marlou Respecio. "Iʻm Marlou, and weʻre from ʻOʻahu, and this is my boyfriend Alan," she looked at him and nodded toward the group, indicating that he should introduce himself as well. "Honestly, you guys, I donʻt wanna be the jerk in the group, but I was dragged here. I didnʻt wanna come because I donʻt see the purpose of re-hashing all this shit again. As I was raised, we donʻt talk about this kind of thing to perfect strangers because of the shame it would cause the family. So honestly, this is bullshit, sorry, but it is."

"Thank you for being honest, Alan; I greatly appreciate it," Terrance replied. "However, I have difficulty believing that five-foot-two Marlou dragged you here against your will. As much as you protest, your presence tells me you are a willing participant."

"Honestly, whatever," Alan scoffed and got a slight shove from Marlou.

Terrance then turned his attention to the single mother who was with child. Her dark hair was pulled back in a neat ponytail, and she wore lehua earrings. Her blouse was a deep colored red with black lehua designs as well. When she realized that all eyes were on her, she put her head down and took a deep breath. Then she looked up and began to speak. "I'm Poly; as you can tell, Iʻm here alone, bearing a child by myself, and I am so afraid that it might be too soon after the loss of my first child. I have this irrational fear that my first child might be mad at me for getting pregnant so quickly that I might forget him or something. So that's why I'm here; I need help to move on."

"Well," Terrance smiled. "We have our work cut out for us, don't we? So let's retire inside where lunch is waiting. We have the rest of the day and the evening to get to know one another before we begin tomorrow. This is why we meet on a Thursday because once we begin on a Friday, there is no turning back. The world outside this property will be foreign to us until Monday morning."


The rest of the time, each participant made introductions again and got to know one another. Everyone talked about various things except for the one thing they were all there for. There was a slightly awkward pause when it felt like the subject was about to be broached, and the issue would change to another matter entirely. Terrance was there, too, but his purpose was to ensure that everyone was well-fed and comfortable. He answered all questions honestly about who he was, where he came from, and why he decided to have these retreats.

"I hurt a lot of people before; this was when I was young and stupid and had no sense of what my real purpose in this world was until something happened that rocked my world," Terrence spoke with an honesty that the couples and the single mom were not prepared for. "I met a beautiful woman. I mean physically, spiritually, mentally; in every way someone could be beautiful, that was her. Her name was Lana, which means to float in Hawaiian. She had everything together, and I was madly in love, but her ever-present sadness permeated her entire being. She could be happy, laugh, and be as normal as the next person, but when everything was calm and quiet, and it was just her and me, that sadness would come back. I was always there for her, never pried or pushed. When Lana finally told me what all the sadness was about, is when I supposed that she realized she could trust me and that I would never hurt her. After high school, she worked at a fast food place in Oahu and fell in love with a co-worker. The relationship got serious quickly; before she knew it, she was hāpai. It is the classic tale of the boyfriend finding out and abandoning her. She was already four months in when she lost the baby; it was hard for her, not just because of the loss of her child but also because of how her parents treated her. When Lana shared this story with me, it had been the 10th anniversary of when she'd lost the child. Two days later, she'd taken her own life, which I never understood. She had everything, house, car, a thriving investment company," I trailed off for a second. "I started this retreat because of Lana,"

"We never know who is suffering," Poly offered. "It's always the ones we least suspect."

"Let me help you in these next few days," Terrence addressed the rest. "I'm not here to mislead you or fill your head with lies or promises I can't keep. I am here to help you so we can all heal together."

"And what if that fails?" Alan Tengan asked.

"Then we fail together," Alan wasn't prepared for Terrance's reply, but he meant what he said.

Davis Ho'omau chimed in, "I want to try; I mean, at the very least, that's what we can come away with, that we tried, right?"

Pili snuggled closer to her husband, "I agree; we have to make an effort."

Poly stood up to say something, and it did not dawn on everyone immediately; it took a second before they saw that her ʻōpū was not distended. She was no longer hāpai. Even Terrance was baffled.

"After hearing your story Terrence, I decided not to topple this place with an earthquake. The story of your Lana, it warmed my heart. You can keep this retreat," Poly said while being enveloped in billowing smoke. When it subsided, she stepped out of the smoke, but this time, she was an adult incarnation of her younger self, not a younger one. The house was filled with the choking smell of sulfur, and everyone began to gag. Heat radiated intensely for a second and disappeared shortly after that. Poly was gone like she had never been there before. Everyone knew who Poly actually was, but not one of them was brave enough to say the name. Pele.

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