Lehua Parker

Talking Story


Oahu Trip: April – May 2021
*May 1oth: Ke Kula Kaiapuni o Pūʻōhala
*May 11th-13th: Punahou High School
*Hickam Elementary: Web Presentation
Children’s Lit Hawaii Conference: June 2021
PEAU Lit Events, Utah: August 2021
ANWA Conference, Mesa, AZ: Sept. 9-11, 2021
FANX, Salt Lake City, UT: Sept. 16-18th, 2021
PEAU Lit Workshop: Oct – Dec, 2021
20BooksVegas, Las Vegas, NV: Nov. 7-12, 2021


Ten year-old Jon Nainoa walked along the edge of the sea, his slippahs flip, flip, flipping sand up the backs of his legs and sticking to the ‘okole of his swim trunks.

Jon didn’t care.

The sun was shining. His belly was full, stuffed with a bamboocha spam musubi given to him by Aunty Nora, the kind lady who lived near Hari’s convenience store. She often kept treats and snacks in the pockets of her big work apron and made like it was no big deal to hand them out to Jon whenever she saw him.

But it was a big deal.

It was the first meal Jon had eaten in two days.

The twins were younger and came first. Everyone knew that.

Walking along, Jon bopped to the song playing in his head. He often listened to music playing in ways only he could hear. He didn’t think about it much. Head-music was better than a radio whose batteries could die or some uncle or cousin’s off-key singing.

Plus head-music helped drown out all the voices he heard, voices no one else did.

Bbbbbbpppphtttt!

It was the sound of a trombone slide, a sound that wasn’t music, not quite, but always came just before something bad happened.

POP!

His slippah broke.

Jon stopped and fished it out of the water. He inspected the damage: the post had pulled through. “Ah, man!” he said, “Now how I going walk home? Hot, you know, on the asphalt! I cannot hop all that way!”

“Grab the bread tie,” said a gravelly voice.

“What?” Jon looked around.

“The bread tie! The red one! It’s almost buried in the sand right next your other foot. Hurry!”

Jon snatched the u-shaped tie just before the white seafoam hid it forever. “Got ‘em!” he said.

“Great. Now push the post through the puka in the bottom of the shoe and slide the bread tie so it secures the post to the bottom.”

Jon fiddled a moment, then said, “Like this?” He gave the strap a tug. “Oh, I get it! It works! Wow! Mahalo…” he trailed off. “Eh, where you stay?”

“Behind you.”

Jon whirled around. “Where?”

“Down here,” said the voice.

Jon tilted his head down and stood there, mouth open and blinking hard. “Are you for real?”

“Of course. At least as real as you are.”

“But you’re a turtle,” Jon said.

“Yeah. The best folks are.”


Writing prompts: a turtle, a plastic bread tie, a trombone

This short was created on Jan. 14, 2021 for PEAU Women’s Writing Crew. More Lauele stories staring Jon to come!

Aloha, Gang! I’m heading home to Oahu for an extended stay, April through May 2021. While I’m planning on research, writing, and relaxing, I’d love to talk story with students, writing groups, bookstores, libraries, or community organizations.

Contact me at AuntyLehua@LehuaParker.com and we’ll find a time we can meet. A hui hou!

College Daughter: Mom! My anthropology professor wants to know the provenance of our poi pounder. What’s the story?

Me: (takes deep breath) Circa 2003, Waimea, Big Island, local craft fair. Composed of ceramic red clay with fake stone flocking.

CD: WHAT?

Me: It’s not real. If it was, it would be 20 times heavier and in a museum. And the koa poi pounding board underneath?

CD: Yeah?

Me: Acacia serving tray from Target. I bought it two years ago.

CD: Noooooooooo!

Me: Yeah. Sorry to pop that inheritance bubble.

#Didn’tyoueverpickitup? #holeinthebottom #fauxHawaiiana #Istilllikeit

When the college kids first moved back home, device chargers and cables started disappearing. I stomped around the house, ticked that I suddenly couldn’t plug in my phone or tablet while on the couch or in the kitchen or at any place I was used to.

There was much grumbling and stink-eye flying on my part and some non-committal shrugging from the rest of the adults in the house.

After a couple weeks of this, I didn’t have to look anymore. Great, I thought, people are leaving my stuff alone.

Nope. I found out this weekend that my husband has a hidden stash of chargers and cables. He’s been secretly replacing the ones that go missing before I realize they’re gone.  For a YEAR. 🤣

#truelove #don’ttouchmystuff #HomeU #keepMomhappy

For a while now, my style has been best described as tropical middle-aged frump with a side of at-least-I’m-not-naked–a.k.a. old fut titah-rella with shoes. But there was a time when I wore smart business attire, cocktail dresses, and even formal wear. I’ve kept all the classic and timeless pieces in my closet, waiting for day the when I’d need them again.

Y’all, this closet is chocked full and the size of a kid’s bedroom. In the original house plan, it was an office.

But since October, I’ve lost some of my fluffy, so much that I have to get new everything. Apparently, my family thinks it’s a problem when my yoga pants fall off as I walk upstairs. This is the result of a permanent lifestyle change, not a diet. These clothes are never going to fit again.

It’s strangely hard to purge my closet. Some of it is fear–what if I need these clothes again? Then there’s the memories attached to certain things. And the freak out at the waste that I didn’t comprehend until it was Marie Kondo’d in front of me. (Still tags on this? Really?! What was I thinking?!!!)

It’s taken me days to go through it all, and I had a couple of minor panic attacks where I temporarily “rescued” a few things.

But I then I thought about the woman having the right kinds of clothes for a new job. I thought about the plus-sized teen needing something for a special dance and the grandma that would love to wear bling-y palm trees and pineapples to bingo. These gently/only once/never-worn clothes are going to be put to good use, far better than faux soothing any hoarder-anxiety.

And me? I’ll still look on-brand as a middle-aged bag lady author. I’m holding onto a bunch of hoodies, a couple of pairs of jeans that I can keep up with a new baseball belt–a truly magical invention–and a few t-shirts. They’ll be easy to find among the rows of empty hangers.

#notallgoingtofitinthecar #donations #onlypantswithbeltloopsfornow #newclothesinsummer


College Daughter comes home for the weekend and discovers a massive new dog pillow in front of the fireplace.
 
CD: I knew it! We’re getting a new dog! Big, right? Like a Great Dane!
 
Me: No. No new dogs.
 
CD: But…
 
Me:
 
CD:
 
Me:
 
CD: Mom!
 
Me:
 
CD: You got that pillow for yourself?! That’s crazy!
 
(CD turns on the fireplace. Grabs a pillow and blanket from a nearby basket. Snuggles down. Turns on the TV.)
 
CD: Oh. My. Gosh! This is AMAZING!
 
Me: Yeah. That’s why I got it for YOU!
 
#Everybody‘sNewFavoriteSpot #PlanWorked #CouchtoMyself
I’ve spent too much time today watching Bollywood dance sequences for a sangeet ceremony that’s a two second scene in my Hawaiians (and Hindus) in space story. It’s probably a good thing YouTube wasn’t around when my friends were popping and locking in high school. And Bhangra? Not much like hula, but… 🤣

Writing is like deep-sea diving. You spend a lot of time preparing and planning. There’s specialized gear and uncommon knowledge to acquire, some kiddie pool practice before venturing out into the open ocean, and a lot of effort to travel to new and unexplored dive sites.

Immersed in an alien macrocosm, time’s suddenly up, and you have to leave long before you’re ready. Before transitioning to surface world, you must decompress–otherwise Very Bad Things can happen.

On even the most routine dives, there’s always something unexpected, be it creature, human, weather, or something technically challenging. When you’re not diving, you’re dreaming about it and planning the next trip.

Yeah, writing is like diving to me. Which writing analogies resonate with you?

#amwriting #divingdeep #hawaiiansinspace #timeforadivetrip

While I try to trick myself into outlining, at my core I’m really a discovery writer flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve been working on what I call my “Hawaiians in Space” story for a few years now.

An early version was published in a fractured fairy tales collection, but honestly, that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell and not surprisingly, it wiffed on hitting the publisher’s target audience of Hallmark-loving romance readers. I tend to take traditional tales too far out of expectations for readers who love the predictability of those kinds of stories. I don’t like to color in the lines.

In rewrites I’ve untethered the story from it’s fairy tale roots, but it’s still not working.

Today I’ve rolled up my editing sleeves and am doing a full breakdown–character analysis, story beats, conflicts–the whole space enchilada that I never thought I had to do because–hello–it’s my story and I have it all in my head.

Yeah. Problem. That’s not what’s on the page. 🙄 Finding holes, plugging leaks, and hoping the third time’s the charm.

#amWriting #HawaiiansinSpace #ItsGoingToBeAThing

 

You know how Boy Scouts are supposed to do a good deed each day? A couple of days ago I was the little old lady that got helped across the street–and the stakes were way higher than getting across the road.

I run on Diet Coke. It’s no secret–and cans are hands down the best. There’s an ongoing canned soda shortage in Utah. Right now canned Diet Coke is almost impossible to find and more valuable than gold to those who drink it like water.

So I’m in Costco. I know there’s no possibility that they have any, but it never hurts to check, right? I get near where the canned soda is kept. It’s right near the end of a row, but I’m on the wrong aisle, so I follow their stupid flow patterns and go ALL the way around until I’m in the right aisle coming from the “approved” direction. I’m almost there when a mom with two strapping teenage sons comes down the wrong way and stops at the soda.

I watch as one son loads cases of Mountain Dew and Sprite while the other son rummages and pulls up a case–35 cans!–of Diet Coke. “Hey, Mom!” he says, “I got the last one!” He puts it under their cart.

I call out, “Lucky!” Just teasing a bit.

“Oh,” he says. “Did you want Diet Coke?”

“Yeah, but it’s okay,” I say. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Oh, you can have it,” he says, picking it up again.

Oops. This was not my intention. “No, really,” I say. “It’s fine. I was just teasing a little.”

“No, take it,” he says, walking over.

His mother is staring daggers at me. I’m pretty sure she’s buying things for a Super Bowl party. Teen boys don’t drink Diet Coke, but she probably does. The kid’s not oblivious to the waves coming off Mom.

He glances at her, a bit confused. “What? It’s just Diet Coke.” He chucks it under my cart.

One of the sample ladies magically appears. She nervously says to the mom, “Go up to the front and tell them you want Diet Coke. They may have some in the back.” Sample Lady gets the stakes. Maybe over the past few months she’s seen blows over this and is tired of mopping up blood.

“Oh? There’s more in the back?” I say.

The mom and I both know that there’s no way there’s some in the back, but I’m thinking it’s a graceful out for me. I can just say, “No, you keep it and I’ll talk to somebody up front.”

But the kid is undeterred in doing his good deed. “See,” he says to his mom, “We can just ask up front.” He turns to me, face shinning with the good manners he’s been taught, and I see that doing this is very important to him. It’s cementing a pattern of thinking of others before himself.

Yeah, it’s Diet Coke, and it doesn’t mean much to him. But refusing it might make him feel less like helping others in the future.

I look at the mom and tell her she’s raised good sons with my eyes. I smile at the kid beneath my Covid mask and say, “Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

He grins and says, “No problem,” and turns to grab regular Coke.

And I hele’d out of there so fast smoke was probably coming off my sneakers.

It was 35 cans of Diet Coke after all.

#amwriting #musejuice #GoodDeeds #Momisstillprobablypissed

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When you’re allergic to water,
growing up in Hawaii
isn’t always paradise.

With Niuhi sharks,
even out of the water,
you’re not safe.

Everything you thought you knew
about Zader is a  lie.