Talking Story

Fiction & Excerpts

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!

PEAU Women’s Writing Crew
January 7, 2021
Prompt: A New Year’s resolution, a pacifier, fireworks
about 300 words


Liz’s Closet

by Lehua Parker

 

It was exactly the kind of thing Liz hated doing.

Hot.

Dusty.

And  guaranteed to make a much bigger mess before it was over. Her mother used to say cleaning closets was a lot like eating an artichoke—to get to the heart, you had to unpeel layers that were never going to ever fit together again.

But it was late November and her New Year’s resolution to organize—get rid of—all the boys’ old baby stuff boxed in the top her closet couldn’t be pushed to next year.

Again.

Standing on her tippy-toes, the first box teetered before tumbling over, showering her with bits of desiccated spider and gecko droppings.

“No, no, no!” she shrieked, shuddering as she dropped it. “Ugh! I did not sign up for this! This crap had better not be in my hair!”

She bent forward, shaking her head and running her fingers through her hair. When she was confident that nothing ugi was crawling along her scalp, she whipped her hair into a titah bun and sighed. “Just do it, Liz,” she said. “When you’re done, you can reward yourself with the last of the butter mochi before the kids get home from school.”

The first thing she saw when she opened the box was a long red string of stale firecrackers. She laughed. Paul must’ve confiscated them from Jay a couple of years ago. The burns on the ceiling and cement floor of the carport were still there. Fortunately, back then all Jay could get his hands on were firecrackers. Heaven only knew what he would do with grownup fireworks.

The next thing she pulled out made her pause: a pacifier without a nipple. Zader, she thought. Even as a baby he destroyed everything he chewed.


The Pasifika Enriching Arts of Utah (PEAU) Women’s Writing Crew meets online Thursdays at 8 pm MST. Here’s a link to all the latest info: https://pik2ar.org/peaulit/  All women writers are welcome, particularly those writing from a Pacific Islander perspective. Each week there are suggested writing prompts, group critique, and a craft discussion. After each workshop, I’ll post my example on my website. Most of the time, they’ll be little snapshots about characters from the Lauele Universe, including the Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy, Lauele Chicken Skin Stories, Lauele Fractured Folktales, and more.

PEAU Women’s Writing Crew
December 9, 2020
Prompt: pig, string or rope, bicycle
about 500 words


‘Alika and Arnold

by Lehua Parker

 

Tuna burst through ‘Alika’s bedroom door.

“‘Alika! Aunty—”

WHAM!

‘Alika’s punch landed solidly in her gut. “How many times I wen tell you no come—”

Tuna bent over, one arm on her stomach, the other braced against the door jam. “Banana leaves,” she wheezed. “Big bunches of ti leaves. Chicken wire.”

‘Alika stood there, mouth open and catching flies. “What? What you said?”

“Try look!” Tuna said, pointing toward the window.

Through the jalousies ‘Alika could see Uncle Butchie and Uncle Kawika rummaging in the back corner of Tutu’s lot.

“This pig more small than last year’s,” Uncle Butchie said. “At least we no need dig the imu deeper.”

“Yeah,” said Uncle Kawika. “Not too much rubbish to clear, either.”

Uncle Butchie jammed his shovel in the loose dirt. “You saw the banana stalks and ti leaves Myrna wen bring?”

“Yeah, get plenny. Eh, when you like do ‘em?” Uncle Butchie asked, tilting his head toward the pig pen.

“Bumbai,” Uncle Kawika said. “When ‘Alika-dem stay school. I no like him getting all ulukū.”

“Arnold,” ‘Alika breathed. He shoved Tuna aside and raced out of the room.

“Wait!” Tuna puffed. “Arnold’s not in the pen!”

Halfway down the hall, ‘Alika screeched to a halt. “Where?”

“I left him by the Nakamura’s side fence tied to the big coconut tree.”

‘Alika nodded and turned toward the front door. He gave Tuna one last look as she tried to stand up straight. “Eh, sorry, yeah?” he said as he slipped outside. “But I did tell you fo’ knock first.”

When ‘Alika rounded the corner by the Nakamura’s fence, all he saw was Tuna’s bike leaning against a coconut tree. “Arnold?” he whispered.

Nothing.

Creeping closer, he spotted some jute twine wrapped around the coconut trunk and disappearing into the hibiscus hedge. “Fo’real, Tunazilla?” he muttered. “This string wouldn’t hold a mongoose. Arnold better still be here or I’ll whop yo’ jaw fo’real.”

He ran his fingers along the string and crawled under the hedge to discover a big pig dozing in the shade.

“Arnold!”

Startled, the pig grunted and jumped. Seeing ‘Alika, his curly tail whirled like a hula hoop, and he made happy pig snuffle noises as he ran to him.

“Shhhhhhh,” said ‘Alika as he scratched behind Arnold’s ears. “It’s good to see you, too, buddy. But we’ve got to get out of here.” With one quick tug, ‘Alika snapped the string from the coconut tree and wrapped it around his hand.

What to do? Where to go?

‘Alika’s eyes landed on Tuna’s bike.

But it’s a girls’ bike, he thought. No way.

From the house Tutu’s voice called, “‘Alika! Your breakfast is getting cold. You better hurry or you going miss the bus!”

“Screw it,” ‘Alika said. “Sometimes you just gotta hele. C’mon, Arnold.”

‘Alika threw his leg over the bike seat and pedaled away, Arnold following like they’d done this a million times.


The Pasifika Enriching Arts of Utah (PEAU) Women’s Writing Crew meets online Thursdays at 8 pm MST. (I’ll post links and more info soon!) All women writers are welcome, particularly those writing from a Pacific Islander perspective. Each week there are suggested writing prompts, group critique, and a craft discussion. After each workshop, I’ll post my example on my website. Most of the time, they’ll be little snapshots about characters from the Lauele Universe, including the Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy, Lauele Chicken Skin Stories, Lauele Fractured Folktales, and more.

Happy Halloween! In honor of the day, here’s a very short story.


Feedlot

by Lehua Parker

 

The fun-sized candy calls, “Eat me, eat me, eat me,” to Josey Brackenburg.

No, she tells herself. I bought it for the kids. Besides, I can’t be this hungry already. I just ate breakfast twenty minutes ago.

“Josey,” calls the candy. “Eat me. You’re starving. And I am delicious.”

She resists, but it’s futile. An hour later Josey heaves herself behind the steering wheel, trailing empty wrappers like breadcrumbs. Gotta start line-drying my jeans, she thinks. Stupid dryer’s shrinking them.

In her grocery cart she chases apples with caramels, adds popsicles for their sticks, and stacks cases of soda on the rack beneath—no diet-death chemicals allowed in her house, thank you very much. Rounding the bakery, pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies leap off the shelves and tumble into her cart, perfect for midnight snacking. Not until checkout does she remember.

Halloween is in two weeks.

She needs more candy.

Now.

With twenty bags of sweets and treats jammed in the trunk, Josey takes the twenty-first bag with her, ripping it open to tide her over the two miles home. Hitching herself back into the driver’s seat, the button pops on her jeans.

Cheap. Nobody makes rivets like they used to.

The Snickers bar agrees as it chases the Milky Way down.

Cruising past the drive-thru, she scans the line stretching around the block and reluctantly parks. It’s an hour before lunch time, but the rush has already started.

No time to wait.

Waddling in, she super-sizes her biggie fries. Hot grease and salt sizzle as she drags them through her peanut-butter malt.

Catching her eye, Annie hefts her triple burger. “It’s perfectly normal to gain a few pounds before winter,” Annie laughs. “We’ll diet later!”

Josey pats her swelling muffin top. “Carrots sticks and rice crackers in January,” she grins. “But through the holidays let’s all get fat and happy!”

In space, Zargog adjusts a dial, his antennae quivering with excitement. “You’re right, Captain. The mountain species are more susceptible to the calo-ray than the coastal varieties. Near the large inland sea, scans also show fewer contaminates in the population—lower levels of nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.”

“Excellent. Inform Chef the feedlot is optimized. Harvest Fest will commence as scheduled.”

THE END

Ever wonder how Zader became part of the Westin family? Birth is a novella about the day Uncle Kahana found Zader abandoned on the reef at Piko Point. There are two versions in the eBook–one told with Pidgin and one told with standard American English.

Check it out on Amazon.

halloween-candy

The fun-sized candy calls eat me, eat me, eat me to Josey Brackenburg. No, she resists, but an hour later Josey heaves herself behind the steering wheel trailing empty wrappers like breadcrumbs. Gotta start line-drying my jeans, she thinks. Stupid dryer’s shrinking them.

In her grocery cart she chases apples with caramels, adds popsicles for their sticks, and stacks cases of soda underneath—no diet-death chemicals allowed in her house, thank you very much. Rounding the bakery, pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies leap off the shelves, perfect for midnight snacking. Not until Piggly-Wiggly’s checkout does she remember. Halloween. She needs more candy.

With twenty bags jammed in the trunk, Josey hitches herself back into the driver’s seat, popping the button on her jeans. Cruising past the drive-thru, she scans the line stretching around the block and reluctantly parks. No time to wait. Waddling in, she super-sizes her biggie fries. Hot grease and salt sizzle as she drags them through her peanut-butter malt.

Catching her eye, Annie hefts her triple burger. “It’s perfectly normal to gain a few pounds before winter,” Annie laughs. “We’ll diet later!”

Josey pats her swelling muffin top. “Carrots sticks and rice crackers in January,” she grins. “But through the holidays let’s all get fat and happy!”

In space Zargog adjusts a dial. “You’re right, Captain. The mountain species are more susceptible than the coastal varieties. Scans also show fewer contaminates.”

“Excellent. Inform Chef the calorie ray is optimized. Harvest Fest will commence as scheduled.”

Zargog smacks his lips.

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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.