The water is warm, and surging. Kailani's limbs struggle to stroke against the jet of water tossing her unrelentingly in circles.
She had dived perfectly under the first wave but resurfaced to another one ready to pummel her.
She fights against the spin shes stuck in, and then remembers what Kaikane had told her; "let it drag you." Kailani allows her body to go limp, and tries to stay calm as her lungs beg for fresh air. Then she resurfaces. As she gasps, another wave approaches her, she gathers a lung full and then dives again, smoothly skimming the underside of the water whirl. When she resurfaces, she immediately desires to call out for Kaikane, but his head and shoulders bob into view. He's grinning at her.
"Wasn't that hard was it?" He says, and swims towards her. Another wave approaches them, and they dive under it. "We need to swim through these waves now, because we're right in the area where they break," he says, Kailani nods.
After the next wave, Kailani becomes more at ease with the water, and becomes aware of the feelings she hadn't noticed before. Like the lukewarm water fanning through her outstretching toes and fingers. The heaviness of her coarse hair as the salty water collects and matts her hair. The brilliance of the sun against her unprotected eyes, and the weightlessness of floating in the water. It wasn't long until the waves turn into a gentle sloping of the water. Kailani likes these waves, as they lift up momentarily, and then place her back down. Like swinging in a hammock. Kaikane appears next to her again, and points towards the island. Kailani had been so involved in the waves, that she hadn't even looked for the island.
"It looks miles away," she says to Kaikane.
"It is miles away. We'll be swimming for an hour at least," Kaikane says, "will you be alright?"
"Of course I will, I just... It looks so far away, are you sure we'll make it?"
"Of course we will, even if you have to ride my back, or if we both have to ride turtle-back." Kailani smiles. "I hope you didn't forget anything," Kaikane adds, and Kailani laughs.
As they swim, they meet with two dolphins, that click to each other under the water. Kailani squealed just as loudly as they did when she heard them conversing in what sounded like laughter. The tips of their feet skim along schools of brightly coloured fish, and ominous looking sea turtles drift alongside them, slow and calculated in their movements. Bright red coral reef, adorned in gentle blue angel fish trying to kiss the coral; every time Kailani ducks her head underwater and opens her eyes she sees a different wonder. After a while, they swim in silence, enjoying the presence of the ocean and the sight of nature just below their strokes.
The island is covered in stretches of white sandy beach, and foliage green like emerald jewels. Kailani does not notice the position of the sun declaring the time of day to be just past suppertime.
As time continues the two friends reach the zone of water where the big waves break. "This can be more tricky," Kaikane says, "we'll wait until a small set of waves roll in, and then start to swim in between the waves coming in. Don't dive into the waves, you'll break your neck, just let them drag you into shore."
"My neck?" Kailani asks, her voice breaking as she imagines herself rolling through the huge waves uncontrollably. Kaikane however has not heard her, and is swimming frantically towards the shore. Kailani follows, shouting for Kaikane to come back, not noticing how dusk has creeped up on them.
The journey into shore had been more fun than anything Kailani had ever done. These waves were much smaller due to the size and slant of the beach. The waves would pick up the two, and hurl them flying across the water. Kaikane showed Kailani how to flatten her body, making it like a surfboard, so that the waves would push them harder and faster across the whitewash.
Once they reach the shore, they tear off their backpacks and jump back into the water, rolling with the waves, and floundering like fish in the shallow water. After a while Kaikane runs out of the water and into the forest. Kailani doesn't notice, she's having too much fun mimicking a mermaid in the whitewash.
When Kaikane returns, Kailani realizes that she can barely see him. She climbs out of the water, the sky is no longer pale azure but a very dark blue. The mustard sun replaces an ivory moon. Kaikane is carrying a thick jumble of different sized twigs and branches, he places them down on the beach and begins to assemble a tepee to accomodate a fire.
"Kaikane, its dark now," Kailani voices the obvious as she hugs her hands around her shoulders.
"Didn't notice!" Kaikane says good-naturedly and strikes a waterproof match. His fire is roaring within seconds. "I guess we're on Kailani island for the night," he says, and sticks out his tongue. Kailani rummages through her napsack, forgetting how much waterproof stuff she had packed; none. She tosses the backpack across the beach and sighs.
"Everything in there is ruined, including what I had planned on eating for lunch," she huffs. Kaikane smiles at her again. "You find everything I do amusing don't you?" Kailani adds.
"It's not that, it's just cute! My backpack is waterproof, and I've got s spare sleeping bag, both dry! But I learned that I needed a waterproof pack just the same way you did."
"On an uninhabited island with a random stranger in the dark?"
"Something like that," Kaikane says, and opens up his pack. He pulls from it the sleeping bags, a machette, and a very spiney egg shaped object.
"Whats that?!" Kailani asks, unsure of if shes raising her voice because Kaikane is holding a machette, or just in general interest.
"It's a Hala fruit, you've never seen one of these before?" Kaikane revolves the oval shaped fruit in his hand before slicing at it with his knife. The fruit inside was golden yellow. "Its pineapple, sort of. Wild pineapple." Kaikane puts some slices of the Hala onto a stick, and holds if over the fire. The fruit turns a toasty brown colour. "Try some."
The hot sticky juice that bursts from the slice of Hala is unlike anything Kailani has ever tasted. She's greatful for the liquid, and sucks at the crispy piece of flesh until it's dry, and then chews through the browned fruit. It tastes sweet, slightly tart, and inconcievably fresh. "I'm guessing you don't eat out in the wild every night," Kaikane says, and lays out his sleeping bag adjacent to the fire.
"I eat frozen dinners," Kailani says. "Sometimes I eat at restaurants," she sees the look on Kaikane's face, and starts to explain for herself. "But I don't have a choice! I don't have time to cook my own meals, and then clean up from them, I wouldn't sleep! Being a manager is time consuming, I knew that when I accepted the raise, did I know I would be giving up my social life? No, but life is about making sacrifices." Kaikane yawns.
"Not really..." he says. "What sort of company are you managing?"
"A paper packaging company..." Kailani sets her eyes on the fire, "It's a very important job you know."
"Well when you graduated did you decide that all you wanted out of life was a managment position with a packaging company?" Kaikane asks Kailani, he flicks bits of sand into the fire.
"Of course not," Kailani says. She steps into the sleeping bag Kaikane gave her, and then adds, "it doesn't work that way."
"Yes it does! You could be anything in the world, anything, and you decide to sell your soul for a pay raise? What did you do in high school?" Kailani fiddles with the zipper on the sleeping bag she's crawled into.
"I painted, all the time, on everything. I painted during math class, I painted on the hallways, in the bathroom stalls..."
"And when was the last time you held a painbrush?" Kaikane asks, his face stern for the first time since they had met.
"Since I got the managers position... Look, I didn't have money to go to art school in Vancouver or something. My aunt kicked me out when I graduated, and I had to make money to support myself."
"Your aunt?" Kaikane looks at Kailani from across the fire, "I'm confused, what about your parents?"
"I was living with my aunt," Kailani sighs, "because I don't have any parents. They died when I was very little," a tear slides down Kailani's cheek. Kaikane crawls around the fire and puts his arms around Kailani.
"What happend?" they eat a few more slices of Hala and then Kailani retells all that she can remember.
"My family had been living in Hilo, you must remember, during the time of that great tsunami strike. There were numerous warnings of the disaster, but we didn't listen. My father convinced my mother to evacuate the house. Me and my brother were glad to be out of danger, but after more than 36 hours, we wanted to go back home. My father -like many many other families- decided that it was now safe to return home. My brother and I camped outside that night, we were anxious to see some big waves. We set out blankets in our treehouse, which sat as high as the roof of our house, on the strongest tree in the yard. I remember being set at my post at the square window of the treehouse, dictating everything I saw to my brother, who dictated it back to me," Kailani is weeping now.
"We woke to the sound of screams, it was so dark outside, and I was so small, I don't know why our parents let us sleep alone in the treehouse. We sat in the tree, petrified, listening to the sounds of waves crashing through houses and ripping apart the earth. When we shone our flashlights at the tree trunk we saw the grey water flooding the yard, and then watched as it consumed the house, tearing off the doors, breaking in the windows. And thats all I can remember. Sometime later a relative must have found us huddled in the treehouse, whimpering like puppies. The next thing I remember is taking a flight to Hawaii, to live with my aunt. She would never tell me anything about my family, she was horrifying! I have no idea what happend to my brother...a different aunt? A grandparent maybe? I think about him everyday."