Learning of an impending danger incites both fear and hope. Fear because you will face the enemy in battle, and hope that you will emerge victorious.
Waihona felt his stomach churning, a sure sign of his uncertainty. Where was his place in all of this? Was he simply a bystander, and Auntie Kala was telling him only as a precautionary measure, or was he supposed to seek and find the answer to their death-spreading problem himself?
When knowledge of this magnitude is entrusted to you, what is your responsibility to it?
While Waihona sat there on the couch, he contemplated this complex web Auntie Kala had relentlessly woven for him. His mind remained entangled in her words for a moment before her scarf caught his attention. He noticed how intricate it was. There were elaborate and mysterious designs stitched into the sheer fabric.
“Waihona,” she said, interrupting his thoughts. “I don’t mean to worry you, but I want you to be cautious about and alert to the people and things around you—especially because we do not know who or what just yet.” She crossed her legs. “We are supposed to have a meeting tomorrow night to discuss the situation.”
“Meeting?” Waihona asked, still startled at the gravity of the situation and that it warranted a meeting.
“Yes. We were supposed to meet tonight, but Hina‘aikamalama demanded we meet under her moon’s full light. I mean, really?” She made a face. “As though we need the light of the full moon to see properly.”
“Are all of you going to be there?” He raised his eyebrows.
Waihona couldn’t image all of his ancestors with all of their powerful, and at times, clashing energies in confined proximity to each other.
“Yes. I know.” She widened her eyes. “The meeting may be more of a hindrance than an aide. Some of your ancestors I just can’t stand, especially your Auntie Hi‘i and her stone-eating sisters. But,” she sighed. “Kāne and Kanaloa called the meeting, and no one turns an ear from their call—not if you want functioning ears.”
“Where is it?”
“Within and directly under the glow of the full moon.”
“Are you all gonna fit?”
“My boy, we do not bow to the laws of space or time. We create it.”
“Do you think it would be . . .”
His Auntie cut him off. “I think it’s time you start proving yourself as Papa and Wākea’s child. After all, we didn’t become who we are by simply sitting content, basking in the glory of our illustrious lineage. We strengthened and contributed to it with our own epic journeys.” She laid an assuring hand on Waihona before rising to her feet. “Now, I must be going. I have a surf lesson to attend.”
“Surf lesson?” Waihona asked, bewildered.
“Oh yes.” She wagged her eyebrows. “With a very handsome kanaka. I’m teaching him.”
“Um.” Waihona looked away, wishing he hadn’t asked. He knew his Auntie and other mo‘o had reputations for seducing, making love to, and then drowning their men. It was a distinguishing characteristic that seemed to follow in their wake. However, knowing his Auntie had seduced and taken a man’s life, although distressing, was not nearly as disturbing as hearing his Auntie plan it right in front of him. He shook off the gruesome image and turned his attention back to what she had said earlier.
“Wait. How do you know that someone’s trying to kill us if no one has seen anything?”
“We’ve seen it in the coagulating of corrosive sediments in our streams, in the wilting and yellowing of our plants, and in the crevices appearing in the earth. The land is changing right before our eyes, and we don’t know who’s behind it.”
“Is it different from regular pollution?”
“You should see for yourself.” Without another word, she glided towards the front door and pulled it open. “I shall send a few of my descendants to guide . . .”
“Mālie!” Jared yelled, silencing their conversation. His voiced boomed from the back of the house. “Mālie!” They could hear the thumps of his cast and crutches as he made his way through the house.
Jared hobbled in, carefully maneuvering the cast encasing his broken foot. He stopped at the end of the hall, his chest heaving and eyes wild. He looked highly distraught, but surprisingly, not angry.
“Jared, I’m . . .” Mālie reached out a comforting hand.
“What happened?” He asked.
Startled, Mālie turned to Waihona for answers. She looked as though she was trying to figure out how he could not remember such a blow.
Waihona stepped closer. “I knocked you . . .”
“You slipped,” Mālie rushed, shoving Waihona’s response to the side. It seemed Waihona’s honesty was not needed at the moment. “You slipped on a step, fell and broke your nose.” She gave a big smile.
Jared touched his nose and winced. “Shit.”
“Yeah, I know. It was pretty bad.”
“Why’d you leave me out there?” he asked, almost in a whine. Head bowed, he jutted his bottom lip.
“We didn’t want to move you too much.” She cuddled up to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “Waihona put you on the bench.”
“But, you left me out there all alone.” Jared leaned his head on hers as he brushed his hand up and down her arm. “I didn’t know what happened.”
Waihona grimaced at their unnecessary display of affection. Did they really need to be so disgusting in front of him? It didn’t bother him that Mālie was in love or what she thought was love. It was that she was canoodling with a cockroach. He turned away to find that same disgusted look on Auntie’s face. Her nose was wrinkled in distaste and her hands were up as if to swat something away.
“Well.” Auntie Kala pressed her lips together. “I should leave before the intrusion arrives. I hate those perennial things.” She shivered. “But, before I do . . .” Lowering her head, she reached into her lengthy scarf as if reaching into a purse and pulled out a long, delicate chain with a metal pendant that recalled an inverted gourd. The gourd was made of narrow colored strips of metal with spaces between each metal band, and a coral pebble, which dangled below its mouth. “You are going to need this.” She placed the strange object into his hand.
“What is it?”
“A vessel? It doesn’t look like it can hold much.” He brought it closer to his face. “Maybe air.”
“You’d be surprised.” She gave him a knowing smile.
As Waihona closed his hand around the gourd, he felt a burst of warmth settle into his skin. Waihona darted a glance at his Auntie.
“It senses its wearer and recognizes their power.”
“What’s it for?”
“That’s for you to figure out.” She patted his shoulder. “Ta, ta, darling. I must be off.”
As his Auntie left, Waihona stared after her, his mind and heart weighing heavily with the responsibility she had forced upon him. He didn’t know what he was expected to do or how this little piece of jewelry was going to help. He did know, however, that it was time to create his own Waihona‘āina epic, which was scary—but also exciting.
Until Next Time . . .
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© 2013 Brooke Leilani Hutchins.
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