Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 1, 2022

Dress 2022

 A speculative rumor said that the simple peasant dress belonged to a princess.

Which Princess it might have been was never specified, but the dress was found on a mannequin covered by a sheet in the very back of the museum. Fortunately, the space was temperature controlled, so the peasant dress appeared almost brand new. A tag was tied to a small loop beneath the neckline, which read, "Kamali'iwahine Ka..." Beyond that, the rest of the letters faded out. Nevertheless, the curator felt an affinity for the dress as if it were a long-lost friend. Strange that there could be such a feeling for an inanimate object, but it was so strong that the curator decided to pull up a chair, remove her laptop, and finish the rest of her work in the basement. She felt comfortable in the basement as if it were always her home. Most of the day passed until, finally, people in the museum began to inquire as to the location of the curator and where she might have gone. They searched the whole museum, even the basement. That is until the security detail was on a short break and retired to the garden. Then, finally, at the bottom of the sloping grass hill, they saw her sitting on a large lauhala mat with a book in her hands and the peasant dress on her body. Her usual mode of dress was a business suit which always gave people the impression that she was stuffy and unapproachable. Yet, there she sat, her hair let down and completely relaxed. Finally, the security detail returned with the museum's executive director, and they carefully descended the hill until the three stood over the curator. 

"Sharlene," the director said. "Have you been here the whole time? Everyone's been looking for you,"

"Yes," Sharlene confirmed. She patted the lauhala mat and looked up at the director and the security detail. "Come, sit down, you folks."

"Sharlene, we don't have time for this," the director sighed with impatience. "The Peabody people are here, and you're scheduled to give them a personal tour."

"Ah, you do it, Courtney," Sharlene replied. "You're much more personable than I am."

"Only you know the specifics of everything that's here, so c'mon, we have to get back," Courtney held her hand out to Sharlene to help her stand up so they could all leave.

"Meh, I don't want to," she shook her head. "That museum is an abomination. It belonged to a royal family, and instead of preserving it as it used to be, we barged in and made a mockery of their lives and ancestry. So this narrative of Western society saving the ancient Hawaiians from savagery is ridiculous! We're the savages; we've been the savages all along, not them."

It was clear to Courtney that something was terribly wrong. She'd been pushing Sharlene much too hard, and now, she's had a mental breakdown. Courtney instructed the security detail to remain with Sharlene and even sit on the mat with her while Courtney went back to her office to make a phone call. A short time later, Courtney returned with the police in tow. She intended to have Sharlene clear out her desk and locker while security and HPD watched. However, the scene she came upon when she returned to the bottom of the sloping hill confounded her. Charlene was sitting on the lauhala mat, surrounded by the security detail, dressed in wing-tip collared tuxedos. Their hair was slicked back, and they were all sipping from glasses filled with champagne. There was a strange buzz and crackling sound around Sharlene and the security detail. As the sound increased, the curator and the four security guards lost their color until they were completely black and white. Then, they disappeared.

Whatever the buzzing and crackling sound was, it left Courtney and the HPD officers sick and nauseous. Soon they fell to their knees, throwing up on the grass. When it was over and their heads cleared, they commiserated about how they would explain what just happened. That report was going to take a long time to put together. Otherwise, they would not say a word about it and act as if nothing had happened. It was never found out which Princess the peasant dress belonged to; whoever it was must have had a considerable amount of mana to transport a small group of people back in time.

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