I wanted to try something a little different today and share a story I wrote just over a year ago. One of my creative coaches recommended that I take this energy and passion I have for storytelling to write a short story everyday. This particular tale was inspired by my own personal experience while touring the island of Kaua’i. Enjoy!
Wailai wrapped the worn sarong over her shoulders and rested her aching back against the cold damp wall of the rock cave. Under the million tons of stone and foliage she balanced her table of wares with the remnants of a broken shoe sole under one leg and a folded map of the islands under another. Every day Wailai staked her claim on the same spot in the depths of the cave. She positioned herself to allow just a slit of natural light to cast upon her wares and carefully kept her own appearance hidden in the shadows.
The cave was an island landmark. With an interior nearly the size of an acre yet short enough to lose all sense of natural light within just a few steps, it was a claustrophobic’s worse nightmare. Although the cave was quite foreboding with its walls like dripping rock and ground like hardened Swiss cheese, curiosity usually won visitors over as they ventured deeper into its darkness. Children always clung tightly to their parents and rarely came within 20 feet of Wailai before taking an immediate 180° turn of their heals.
Wailai stopped caring about her looks the day Hanu abandoned her. He left no words, no message, he just dropped out of sight – actually he dropped out of her sight. Wailai discovered the cave during one of her visits to Tunnels Beach hopelessly wishing time had reversed and Hanu was still the beach’s resident lifeguard and she was but a budding pre-med student.
At one point she began hearing legends of Hanu rescuing a mainland woman from the high tides of Tunnels Beach and instantly falling in love. Supposedly the couple now ran a surfing school on the other side of the island. Wailai never had the desire to find out if it was true. It didn’t matter anymore. Twelve years later the cave proved her to be a great comfort. She was projected from nature’s brutal elements. It sheltered her from the pain of seeing people in full light. And best of all, with her back against the wall, no one could ever blindside her again. The cave became her fortress, her shield, her armor against that demon named “love.”
Wailai slowly placed her handmade jewelry on the tea stained cloth waiting for the day’s onslaught of adventurous tourists and couples looking for a quick make-out session. “One of a kind,” she announced to passerbys. “The rarest of stones on all the islands.”
She lied of course. She lured women with the same meaningless message for over a decade. She didn’t care. Every single woman who entered the cave deserved to be foiled. As far as she was concerned every one of them was guilty of thievery of the heart. She wanted to trick them all. She wanted them all to pay for the endless stabbing pain in her chest.
Everything changed the day the sky collapsed onto the small beach town. The rain fell so unexpectedly and hard that the ground shook violently. The cave was instantly overrun with surfers and tourists until daylight was completely drowned out. Minutes later it was all over. Just like that. Like God said to the land “take that” then immediately resigned his anger. Soon afterwards the crowd raced back out to the beach’s golden sand as quickly as they rushed in.
Shortly afterwards a quiet whimper came from about 15 feet from Wailai’s side. She squinted her eyes to discover a crouched little ball of a girl no more than 4 years old shivering in the darkness. Without a moment’s hesitation Wailai bent down to the child’s side and offered her hand. Surprisingly the toddler stopped her crying and reached out to instead touch Wailai’s cheek.
“You okay?” Asked the little girl as she grazed along the edge of Wailai’s jagged scar just to the side of her cheek.
Wailai’s voice went mute. Her words would not form. Her thoughts were empty. She also no longer had anything left to fear. Nothing left to fight. She confidently and calmly took the toddler by the hand, led her out of the cave and to her frantic parents.
The child called her father Papi, but Wailai instantly recognized the man as her long lost love Hanu. Hanu showed no sign of recognizing her. That was best she thought.
Wailai never again had any desire to go back into the cave. She never thought about tricking the tourists with her worthless jewelry or any last remnants of love for Hanu. Wailai unwrapped the moth ridden scarf concealing her aged face and allowed the wind to carry it over the ocean bluff.