The Dance

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


After the death of Kaylee's best friend she returns home to help heal the pain of her absence.

Submitted: October 10, 2017

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Submitted: October 10, 2017

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The pilot leaned to his right and yelled over the bi-plane’s engines, “We’ll be on the ground in ten!”  There was one couple on a honeymoon-adventure and seated next to her a twenty something going to visit her grandmother.

The young girl said to her “I’d ask you to come for dinner but nana has some traditional ideas about people with fair skin.”

Kaylee smiled, “I understand.  I used to live on the island.” 

“Really, why are you coming back?”

“My noni needs me.”  The girl asked no more questions for no one ignores one’s noni.  The direct translation was Auntie but the meaning was so much more.  One’s noni was traditionally an older generation, who kept your secrets, and kept the demons away.  You never asked noni for anything because noni would only give you what you needed.  And when noni asks for help there was not an excuse in the world to prevent you from giving aid.

Kaylee smiled remembering when Maria introduced her.

 

“and this is my noni.”

“Hello.”

Noni nodded and put two bowls of fish soup on the table.  She sat next to Maria and whispered, “What do I call her?”

Maria just shrugged and finished her bite.  “I only know her as noni.”  They both giggled.

“Call me noni.” Noni said as she put down some Jiffy corn bread.

Maria’s eyes bugged out.  “You have no idea how special that was.  She still hasn’t spoken to Yona.”

Noni approved of her, from then on everyone called her cuz except Yona.  He would only refer to her as the hauli.  She in turn would only call him mook.  And for five years she was happy.

 

The plane landed and stopped several yards from the shack called an airport.  “What a mook.”  The girl next to her said looking out the window.  The mook was Stan standing in front of his beat up two cylinder with a badly written sign that looked like the word Chennel on it.  Kaylee was pretty sure that wasn’t the name of the honeymoon couple.

Kaylee shook her head, “Yeah, but he’s a sweet mook.”

Kaylee watched from the plane as the confused honeymooners figured out Stan was their ride into town.  Stan crammed the luggage into the trunk and used bungee cords to hold it all together.  The girl walked pass the comical scene with barely a pause on her way to grandmother’s house.  Any thoughts of leaving the island before noon tomorrow were moot due to the pilot already being halfway to Jasper’s.  Jasper’s was one of five bars on the island.  Kaylee wondered if there would be a new adjective attached to the sign.  Every couple of months the adjective would change from bar to lounge to club to cafe to cantina to whatever else the owner could think of.

Kaylee stood on the tarmac with her two wheeled luggage.  Noni wasn’t there yet but no matter.  There was one place she had to go first by herself.  She walked to the place where everything had changed.

The outlook was beautiful.  From this vantage point one could see the fishing harbor and the fish slash flea market.  They had come up here often to talk about everything, well almost everything.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.  I’m sorry . . .”  Kaylee shook her head.  Sorries don’t help the dead, she mocked herself.

A car honked.  Kaylee turned around to see noni in the jeep she had left behind.  Kaylee loaded her bags and climbed in the passenger seat.  Noni leaned over and hugged her.  “Sorry I’m late.”

“Noni you are always on time it’s everyone else that has the wrong time.”  Kaylee told her.  It had become their greeting and as all things island it meant more than what the words were.

“Girlee you shouldn’t have stayed away so long.  Look at you all skin and bone.”

“It couldn’t be helped but I’m back.”

Noni’s sharp eyes and sharper mind assessed this adopted daughter of the island.  If Kaylee wasn’t ready to talk she wouldn’t push . . .yet.

“Yes, you’re back and none too soon.  Yona is getting worse.  If something doesn’t change soon he’s going to die from liver failure.  No one can get through to him not even me.”

“A bigger mook, I’ve yet to meet.”

“Yes, but Maria loved him and he her.”

Kaylee couldn’t argue with that.  Of course anyone that knew Maria in the slightest loved her.  Maria was one of those warm all encompassing souls that made being alive a good thing.  What Maria saw in Yona was anyone’s guess.  A casual observer would say it was because he was the best looking guy on the island.  That wouldn’t have been enough for Maria.

Noni drove Kaylee to Yona’s house.  She thought she was prepared from Noni’s description but she was wrong.  The cute three bedroom cottage he had built for Maria could now barely be called a shack.  The garden Maria put so much time into was almost indistinguishable from the natural flora.  The only sign there was any habitation was the worn trail from the front door to the truck and the litter of beer bottles on the ground.  The truck that had been Yona’s pride and joy was replaced with a junker that looked doubtful it could turn over.

Kaylee steeled herself for what she was about to see inside.  The furniture was badly abused and broken.  The only picture hanging on the wall was covered by a blue plaid shirt.  Stepping over the beer cans and burger wrappers she lifted the shirt to see Maria smiling down at her.  She left the shirt and continued her survey of the damage.  The kitchen sink was filled with empty liquor bottles of every type.  A few pizza boxes were stacked on the counter.  A few insects crawled over the boxes scavenging for leftovers.

“If Stan and Meka didn’t drop in with the pizza I doubt he would eat.” Noni said.

There were no words for the growth and smell in the bathroom.  Kaylee couldn’t even look at it.  The two rooms were empty but for more empty liquor bottles and trash.  In the master bedroom sprawled on a stained sheet less mattress was a passed out Yona.  His fifth of cheap rum within reach and not quite finished.

The guilt of letting the family deal with this struck her hard.  She pushed it aside and concentrated on the problem at hand.  She was about to rudely kick Yona when she heard a sea bird cry out.  An idea struck her.  It seemed ridiculous on the surface but the more she thought about it the more she liked it.  What more Kaylee knew Maria would have approved.

She turned around, “Come Noni I need to see Sam.”

“Sam? Wha for?”

Kaylee looked back at the sleeping giant.  “I’m going to need a boat.”

Noni, always quick on the uptake, smiled and hurried out of the house.  “I’ll get the three stooges to help.”

 

“Kaylee!  When did you get on island?”  Sam cried out wrapping her in a big bear hug.

“Just today.”

Sam nodded as if he knew all along.  “With the honeymooners and Aggie’s grandkid.”

“Sam I’m looking to buy a boat.”  Kaylee announced.  If allowed Sam would talk about nothing all day.

The smell of a sell focused him.  “Well you’ve come to the right place.  What do you have in mind little sister?”

“Sail boat for two.  It needs to have a cabin and kitchen.”

“Planning a romantic weekend?”

“More a therapeutic weekend.”

Getting the warning glare from Noni telling him to stop being nosy Sam said “I got just the thing.”

 

Everything was rocking.  Yona tried reaching for the only thing that gave him any peace, only his hand hit the wall.  He tried to roll over and half of him fell out of bed.  His feet couldn’t fall out of bed because they were blocked by the stove.  Even with all this evidence his rum soaked mind couldn’t understand where he was.

Then he heard a woman singing.  He couldn’t hear the words but the tune was somewhat familiar.  Yona crawled the rest of the way out of the bunk.  He tried standing up and wacked his head on the ceiling.  It felt like it wasn’t the first time his head got hit.  He bent down and got up the steps.

“Finally.” The woman said.  He knew that voice but it couldn’t be, the gods wouldn’t be that cruel to him.  He turned his head.  There the hauli sat at the stern of the boat smiling as if nothing happened.  Rage filled him and then he was doubled over the side of the ship feeding the fishes.

When there was nothing left to give he rolled onto his side and glared at her, “What are you doing here?” he accused.

She looked at him with that you really are that stupid, look.  “I’m sailing a boat.”

“Take me back.”

“Sure just tell me which way to go.”

“How am I suppose to know which way the island is?”

“There’s some navigation tools in the cabin.”  The laughter in her eyes told Yona he wasn’t going to like what he found.  He got to his feet only to have his knees give out.  He chanced a look at the hauli.  There was no pity or laughter just a detached look of curiosity.  He got up again and this time kept his balance and got in the cabin again.

The closed in feeling made him feel sick all over again, but there was nothing left in his stomach.  He looked around and saw on the small dinning table a compass and the ancestral star chart Maria had made him.  He tried to storm out of the cabin but he had a feeling it was more comical than terrifying.  “What’s this?!” he yelled waving the star chart at her.  He regretted yelling as it made his head spin for a moment.

The hauli had the audacity to smile.  “Your way home, if you remember how to use it.”

Yona wanted to slap that smug look off her face, but he was pretty sure he’d fall into the water before getting to her.  “I need a drink.” He said instead and sat down feeling defeated.

A flicker of disappointment crossed her eyes.  “Well your next drink is when you navigate us home.”

Did she want him pissed off?  “That is my home.  You don’t belong you’ve never belonged.  You were just some pet Maria brought home!”  Unable to look at her anymore he stumbled back into the cabin.

“Try to eat something.” She called after him.

He ignored her and went back to sleep on the miniscule bed, at least until the sweats started.

 

Kaylee was humble enough to admit if she knew how hard watching him go through detox was going to be she would have come up with a different plan.  But every time regret started to creep in she stiffened her spine and told herself there was no going back at this point.  She wouldn’t be able to face Noni if she failed.

She would get food and water down him just to clean it up when it came back up.  He yelled every abuse he could think of at her and even took a swing at her at one point.  Luckily he was too weak at that point to do any real damage.  By the fourth day the shakes were diminishing and food was staying down.  But most promising of all was the eyes were finally clear.

He had taken to sitting on deck at night looking at the stars twirling the star chart between his hands.  It was on the seventh night he spoke without swearing.

“I cheated.” He said simply.

“Huh?”

“The Heritage Festival, I won by cheating.”

“Ah, yes I know.”

“You did?  Did you ever tell Maria?”

“You mook, she told me.”

“She did?”

“She said if you used it proper you would have ended up at Fisherman’s Harbor not Kodie Cove.”

He looked at her so confused and lost it would have been funny under any other circumstance.  “If she knew, why did she finally agree to go out with me?”

Kaylee shrugged.  “I don’t know.  All she would tell me is you could hear the music.  You know how she loved to dance.”

He actually smiled, “Yeah, she could get anyone to dance.”  He went back to looking at the stars.  He had no idea the cut he just dealt her.  The memories of that night came back to her clearer than ever before.

 

“I don’t believe it, that mook actually made it.” She said impressed despite herself as Yona’s ship came sailing into the cove.

“Me either.  If he followed the map I gave him properly it would have taken him to Fisherman’s Harbor.” Maria snorted

“He got lucky or he cheated.”

“Never mind him.  Are you ready?” Marie practically squealed.

“As ready as I’ll ever be.” She lied

Yona headed the pig procession as if he actually hunted it.  Every seat in the bowl was filled.  Kids ran around with their flags and dolls they had made at the craft stands.  The old were sitting criticizing how it was done in their day.  At the center was Maria orchestrating it all.

Yona and the guys were up first with the gods dance.  They actually weren’t half bad.  Then the little ones.  They were adorably out of sync.  Then the wahinies that were dancing to show they were now wahinas.  Each one had to perform their own dance and then the group dance.  They had been practicing every day for months.  She was third in line and she was sweating bullets and her stomach was in knots.

“Kaylee are you alright?” Maria asked behind her

She turned from the stage to look at Maria and promptly threw up on Maria’s feet.  “Oh, girl you’ve got more than stage fright.”  Maria said putting a supportive arm around her.

Noni seemingly appeared out of nowhere and took her home to bed.  It was the next day, recovering from a food allergy that she learned Maria finally said yes to going on a date with Yona.

 

When morning came Yona asked, “Will you take me home now?”

The look she gave him was an eerie emotionless mask.  “No.”

“I told you I don’t know how to use this damn thing.”

Then came the exasperated look he was use to.  “You’re such a mook.”

“Why are you doing this?  Why’d you even come back?  You didn’t even come back for her funeral.”  He didn’t mean to go there but he did and he wasn’t about to back down.

“My noni needed me.”

“She’s not your noni!  She’s Maria’s noni!” he raged.

“Fair enough, Maria’s noni needed me.”

He was taken aback by that concession but he wouldn’t, couldn’t let it go this time.  “You came back for Maria’s noni but not for Maria?  You broke her heart leaving the way you did.”  It was a low blow and it was a direct hit but he didn’t care. 

The hauli came back swinging.  “Maybe, but at least I’m not trying to erase her from existence!”

“You don’t know what it’s been like to see her at every turn, to catch her scent just around the corner.  I was going insane.”

“And so you made it impossible for anyone else to grieve her, to celebrate her life?  You’re not a mook you’re a selfish asshole.  Sitting around feeling sorry for yourself thinking you’re the only one who lost something special.”

“And you’re so nobel?  You’re just a selfish hauli that took what she wanted and left without a care of the consequences.”  Before she could answer back lightning struck in the distance.  “Shit, we need to get back to the island.”

She didn’t respond she was still looking at the rapidly moving storm.  He grabbed her by the shoulder and what he saw in her face disturbed him more than he thought possible.  The eyes were unseeing and all signs of life seem faded.  It was now that he noticed how thin she was and how faded and short her hair was.  The thunder shook him out of his shock.  He put her down by the mast.  She already had a life jacket on so all he had to do was secure her to the mast.  He then took control of the sails and tried to out run the storm.

It didn’t take long before out running the storm was futile.  It was all he could do to hold the boat together.  His grip was about to fail when the hauli decided to help.  She helped get the line on the sail a little tighter.  When he looked down she was smiling up at him.

“Remember when Maria didn’t talk to either of us for a week because we were being so stubborn!” she yelled in his ear to be heard.

What did that have to do with anything?  “We need shelter!” he yelled back.  He could see in her eyes when she came back to her senses.

“That way!” she yelled pointing off the port bow.

She was so confident and he had no better idea of a direction he obeyed.  His whole world narrowed to holding the riggings of the boat and the direction she yelled out.  Time had no meaning; it moved both quickly and slowly.  Then a wave too big for the boat came crashing down.

For a moment he thought that was it, they were to die out at sea.  Then he saw Maria smiling down at him like the day he was going to give up on the cottage.

 

Another board had cracked and in his fit of rage of throwing the board aside he had fallen to the ground.

Maria was coming out with lunch.  She smiled and shook her head.  “You mook, you’re not done yet.”  She held out her hand and pulled him to his feet.

 

Like then he reached for her hand only he didn’t get her, he got air.  He got pushed around and almost drowned a couple of times but then he thought he touched sand.  The next wave hit and he definitely hit sand.  He saw the beach and used the last of his strength to get to shore.  He wanted to collapse and pass out but the hauli had somehow made it to shore.  He rolled her over and saw she wasn’t breathing.  This made him mad giving him a burst of strength.  “Oh no you don’t.  You don’t get to leave this time.” He muttered as he started the chest compressions that Maria had taught him.  It didn’t take long for her to come back coughing up a mouthful of seawater.  He then collapsed onto his back and passed out.

 

Kaylee’s chest hurt, throat was raw, head hurt, sand was everywhere, and the sun was too bright even in the shade, but she was alive.  The sound of wood splintering caught her attention.  Yona was walking back toward her with an arm full of branches and palm leaves.

“Welcome back.” Yona said.

She gave him a smile.  Her throat felt too raw for talking.

Yona grabbed a coconut from a pile he had obviously gathered.  Using a piece of metal from the boat wreckage he split the coconut using a traditional technique.  He was even able to keep most of the milk in the halves.  Obviously Maria’s teachings were still rattling around in his brain.  She didn’t much care for coconut but right now it was the best tasting thing she had ever had.

“It’s not much of an island but there are some pigs and birds.  Water is going to be a problem so we’ll have to make due with the coconuts until we figure something out.  After I salvage what I can from the debris I’ll try my luck at some hunting.”

“Maria would have loved this.” Kaylee croaked.

He hesitated only a moment before asking, “How sick are you?”

She drank some more milk and took a deep breath.  “It’s funny I didn’t trust Maria with this knowledge but I trust you won’t treat me any different if I tell you.” She reflected hoarsely.  She let the realization sink in before plowing ahead.  “It’s a rare disease so not much research has gone into it.  I was diagnosed before I even met Maria.  About a month before I left I was contacted by my old doctor about a new treatment.  He said there was a fifty percent chance of success.  It took me a couple of weeks to decide to go.  The hardest part was deciding not to tell Maria.”  She paused to drink some more milk.  “Even back then I knew I was being selfish.  I didn’t want to risk the chance of her wanting to come with me.  If the treatment didn’t work then her last memory of me would be in a hospital connected to beeping machines and the harsh smell of too much Clorox.  I never dreamed my last memory of her would be us fighting.” Her sight blurred.

“I take it the treatments didn’t work.”

She shook her head sucking on a piece of coconut.  “Doctors gave up about three months ago.  The treatments do a number on your mind.  When I was recovering from the last treatment and the doctors were dancing around the fact that they failed I had a waking dream.  It was Maria in her garden.  She sat on her heels and looked behind her at me.  She smiled her radiant smile and said ‘It’s time to come home.’ So as soon as I shooed the useless doctors away I called noni and that’s when I learned of your sorry condition.  It took awhile to sell everything and put it in a trust fund for those that want to follow Maria’s path, but I made it back to the island a few days ago.”

“How long?”

She didn’t pretend to misunderstand him.  “Doctors say six to twelve months.  If I hadn’t done the treatments I might have gotten two years.”

Yona was silent for a moment.  “You were right she would have insisted on coming with you.”

She wiped away the tears that had come unbidden during the telling.  “So you said something about a pig roast?” Her voice was still hoarse but it was no longer painful to speak.

Thankfully Yona didn’t want to pursue the subject.  He produced from the pile of wood and palm leaves a straightish stick that had been stripped of all its leaves.

She burst out laughing.  “That spindly little stick couldn’t kill jello.”

Yona got up offended.  “You’ll see.  You’ll be eating those words when you’re eating my pig.”  He started to stalk off.

“If you bring back a pig I’ll dance you a hula.” She called after him.

“Get your grass skirt ready hauli.” He called back.  She heard Maria’s laughter as she remembered the last time she had challenged his manhood.

 

She met Maria at the SunMoon Café.  Maria was at a picnic table in front of the café looking at a large sheet of paper.  “What’s this?”

“Yona’s plans for a house.”

She laughed.  “You can’t be serious.”

Yona came out of the café with the food order.  “Serious about what?” He asked.  Maria gave her a warning look, which she ignored.

“Your castle plans.”

“Yep, I’m going to build it myself.” he said proudly.

“You, build a house?”

“You don’t think I can do it.”

“Oh, I’m sure it will be a fine retirement home.”

Maria just bowed her head at the inevitable downward spiral the conversation was going.

“What do you know about building?” Yona demanded.

“I don’t know much about building but I know the only thing you can finish is Rory’s Garbage Truck Pizzas.”

“Hauli, you don’t know anything the least of all about me.  You’ll see Maria sitting in her new kitchen before the winter storms come.”

“If Maria gets that house before the winter storms I’ll cook the Hanmia Meal.”

“Guys, I’m right here.” Maria tried futily.

“You better get practicing because I’ll want to be able to eat it.”  He grabbed the house plans, left the food and stalked off.

“Why do you do that?”

“Why did you agree to marry him?”

“He’s a good man, Kaylee.”

She snorted.  “He’s an arrogant mook.”

“Well you better be ready to cook that arrogant mook a proper Hanmia Meal.  You injured his pride.”

“At least you’ll get your house before winter.  Hopefully it’ll be able to withstand the winter winds.”

“Argh, do you ever give it a rest?”

“Sorry, there’s just something about him that brings out the mean hauli in me.”  She took a bite of the burger.

“Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” She asked around the burger.

“You’re not a hauli.  I know he says it but that’s because he’s a mook.”

She put the burger down and said somberly.  “Maria no matter how you might wish it otherwise there’s no changing what I am.”

Six months later she was cooking the Hanmia Meal in their kitchen.  And despite several insults to each other Yona ate it.  Maria was so proud and happy with both of them.

 

Kaylee looked at the pile of palm leaves and dragged herself to her feet, and began the softening process to make a grass skirt.  When Yona came back with the pig she had a fire pit with hot coals ready and the lean-to erected.  The dumbfounded look on his face made all the dizzy spells she endured worth it.

“What’s this?”

She rolled her eyes.  “What does it look like you mook.  Get cooking oh mighty hunter, I’m hungry and I’m not going to perform on an empty stomach.”  She said and finished tying the leaves around some tuber roots she found.  “Here put these in while you’re at it.  I found them while I was clearing the spot for the lean-to.”

“You should have rested.”

“I am resting.  I plan to build the satellite phone so we can call for a ride home tomorrow.”  He just shook his head at her flippancy and mumbled something about haulis.

The roots were done before the pig but they couldn’t wait, they were so hungry.  By the time they ate the last root the pig was ready.  Kaylee had eaten her fill and Yona was slowing down.  Might as well get this over with, she thought to herself.  She wasn’t pleased with the skirt at all but a deal was a deal.  When she got up and put the thing on Yona looked like he had completely forgotten.

All day she was trying to remember the moves but she was worried she was missing something.  She thought she was going to be sick and then Yona started the beat.  The knot in her stomach loosened and the words started to flow.  With the words her hands and feet knew what to do.  When she was done she took the skirt off and sat back down.  They started in silence at the fire.

“You’re pretty good.”  Yona said.  She raised her eyebrow at him.  “For a hauli.” He added with a smile.  “It’s too bad you got sick that night.  I know Maria really wanted to see you perform.”  They went back to looking at the fire.

“I knew I was allergic to that nut.”  She confessed without looking away from the fire.

“Why?”

“I couldn’t hear the music like Maria talked about.  All I could hear was hauli in a grass skirt.”

“Did Maria know?”

“I think she figured it out afterwards when I stopped going to rehearsals so religiously.”

“So we are both fakes but Maria loved us anyway.”

“What was she thinking?” she tried to say lightly but it fell flat.

“Well we better get some rest.  Tomorrow we have to figure out how to get home.”

“Too bad we don’t have Maria’s Navigation Chart.”

“You know how to use it?”

She nodded.  “I watched her make it so I know what star she used as the anchor.”

“I’ll keep an eye out for it but we better work on plan B.”  With those ominous words they fell asleep.

 

Yona started the morning off with some fishing and Kaylee made smoking racks for the left over pork and any extra fish.  She also used some of the debris and empty coconut shells to create a clever water gathering system.  As Yona speared another fish he reflected on how well Maria taught them about the ancient ways.  And if his ancestors could discover these islands without benefit of GPS he was confident they could get home.  He also noticed that thinking of Maria brought as many smiles as it did tears.

Yona went back to the camp with ten fish.  “How’s it going?”

“This was a lot easier and less dangerous with a ball of twine.”  She held up her sliced up fingers, from working with the palm leaves, for him to see.

After they ate the fish he went in search of more wreckage and suitable boat making material.  She went in search of more food and tool making materials.

That night they ate the rest of the pig and more roots.  “I think I got all I could from the wreckage.”

“No navigator?” she asked without hope.

He shook his head.  After a few minutes of silence he asked something that he never could admit caring about before.  “Why didn’t you date anyone?”

“Really? Out of all the things you could ask you want to know why I didn’t date.”  She shook her head with a smile and sighed.  “I was a real mook back then.  I let the disease define me.  I didn’t think I was worthy of a relationship.”

“And now, if every guy asked you out who would you say yes too?”

She actually blushed, “Ishi.” She eeked out.

“Ishi? No foolin?”

She regained her composure.  “Any man that can bypass an ailing transmission so it can make it to the shop is worth a girl’s time.”

“He asked you out like twenty times and you never thought about saying yes?”

“I thought about nothing else but I let the disease stop me.”  She seemed to reflect back on her life.  “I let it stop me a lot.”

“So if we get back you’ll say yes the next time he asks?”

“That would be kinda awkward since he’s engaged to Lena.”

“What? When did that happen?”

“About six months ago.  Noni said everyone was surprised.”

“Huh, I guess I’ve been around as much as you have.”

“I guess that’s why Maria put us together.  It takes someone equally stubborn to get through to us.”

He nodded.  The disease must be a doozy if she really thought she was in contact with Maria.  “Maria talk to you a lot?”

“Only three times.  The one I told you about.  The first was earlier when the treatments first started getting bad.  I was going to give up and go back to the island.  The hospital room door opened and she walked in.  She was in that yellow dress with the blue flowers you bought for her birthday.  She said, ‘Did you really think you could keep something like this a secret.  You’re not about to give up after everything you’ve put me through.’ Then she was gone.  It was a couple of days later I found out about the accident.  It was the same day as my waking dream.  I didn’t have the strength to call it coincidence so I stuck with the treatments to the end.”

“What was the third one?”

“During the storm.  She was dancing her favorite story.  The one about the princess waiting for the lost sailor.”

He groaned and then realized something.  “Wait, are you saying you pointed us in this direction because of a hallucination?”

“Waking dream not a hallucination, there’s a difference.” She said indignantly

“Like what, you crazy hauli?”

“If it was a hallucination then we’d both be dead.”

“It was dumb luck.”

“Deny it all you want, Maria got us to this island.  I’m sure you’d see her too if you let her back in.”

“Let her back in?  You really are crazy.  She’s dead, all that is left is the gapping hole that use to be her.”  Not able to stand it anymore Yona got up and stomped away.

 

The next couple of days were spent in silence.  Kaylee could feel her energy waning and she wasn’t sure how many more rounds with Yona she could take.  Yona had run into a building problem that stopped him mid-day.

Yona was laying beneath a tree pretending to be napping.  She was working on making some more baskets to collect any rain water.  “One could be tempted to stay here.” She observed.

“Stay? Is Maria telling you this.”  Apparently he was still upset from the last conversation.

“No, but its peaceful here.  It has everything one needs.”

“Except, I don’t know, people.”  He levered himself to sitting position.

“It’s not like either one of us would be missed.”  It didn’t quite come out the way she intended but it was said.

“Speak for yourself, I’m not the reason Maria is gone.”

“What’s that suppose to mean?”  She stopped working on the basket.

“She went up to that point every night to talk to you.  If you hadn’t left she would still be here.”  He accused.

“And you killing yourself with alcohol is how she wants to be remembered?” Unable to keep the pain of his words at bay she stormed off into the woods.  After several minutes of crying she decided to do something constructive like dig for roots.

 

Yona put more wood on the fire before continuing his pacing.  He kept berating himself for the lie he told.  It was nothing but a stupid accident that killed Maria, it could have happened anywhere.  Where was she?  She should have been back by now.  He had started to go after her a dozen times but shame kept him from getting more than a few feet.

Finally, with the last of day light almost gone he went into the woods.  “Kaylee! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!”  He called out.  It didn’t take long to find her.  She was laying on the ground next to half dug up roots.  “Ah, you mook you should have gone after her sooner.” He berated himself.
He picked her up and brought her back to camp.  She was breathing but nothing he did could wake her.  He sat back on his heels and looked up at the stars.  “Please, help your friend!” He cried.  He bowed his head. “Please, help mine.” He whispered.

Unbidden a memory from his childhood came to him.  He had been sick with pneumonia for three weeks with no sign of getting better.

 

He was sitting in the sun alternating breathing on his own and using the breathing mask.  Maria came over in costume and without a word she began singing and dancing.  He waited until she was done to ask “What are you doing?”

“Don’t you recognize the healing dance when you see it?”

“Dancing isn’t going to make my pneumonia go away you mook.” He wheezed.

“Just you wait and see.  I bet you’ll get better by the time of the game.”

The next day he started breathing easier.  And by the time of the game he was sitting on the bench as second string.  Everyone said his body had finally turned the tide, but he always wondered.

 

Yona got to his feet.  At first he couldn’t remember the words so he let his feet start.  It was like cranking a rusted bike but with every pass of his foot and wave of his hand it became clearer.  Then as if Maria was whispering the words in his ear he began singing.  At first quietly but by the end he was loud enough for the whole island to hear.

The song ended and he fell to his knees emotionally exhausted.  “Please make me wrong and Maria right.” He half prayed.

“What a weird dream.” Kaylee said weakly.

His head snapped up and he scrambled over to her.  “Are you alright?”

“Guess I shouldn’t have skipped lunch.” She said lightly.

He didn’t want to stress her so he asked “What did you dream?”

“I dreamt Maria was dancing with a duck and then it turned into you.  Only you weren’t dancing like a duck.”

He smiled.  “You’re right if I’m not dancing like a duck it must have been a dream.”

She looked so tired.  “I think the doctors were wrong again.  I don’t think I have six months.”

“You just need to rest.  We’ll get back to the island and Noni will do what those doctors couldn’t.” She smiled and fell into a normal sleep.

 

For three days Kaylee suffered Yona’s mother henning.  He even had moved his boat construction closer to camp just to make sure she didn’t over exert herself.  Finally, he had to go hunt up some more meat.

Despite his denial, she knew she didn’t have long.  She wasn’t an islander so she wouldn’t get to show Maria her dance in the afterlife.  She was going to do her dance and this disease wasn’t going to stop her again.  There was a bare hill top she was going to use as her stage.  She just had to get there and do her dance before Yona got back.

 

Luck was on Yona’s side.  His traps worked and they had two fat birds for dinner.  There was still time in the day to work some more on the boat.  It was almost sea worthy.  He’d leave it to Maria to navigate them home.

He came out of the woods a little ways from the camp.  He didn’t immediately see Kaylee.  Maybe she’s taking a nap, he thought to himself.  As he got closer reality set in, she had left the camp.

“I should have tied the stubborn hauli to a tree.” He declared.

He dropped the birds and went in search of her.  It was a few minutes later that he heard a voice.  At first he thought it was Maria but then he got the direction it was coming from.

At the base of the only hill on the island he looked up to see her dancing.  He didn’t recognize it but parts were from the girl’s initiation to womanhood.  He realized, this was the dance she had chickened out of.

As a good dance should he was transfixed by the movements.  The dance stopped and the song faded.  It was like a spell had been woven and all the island was silent.  Then she collapsed.  He immediately bounded up the hill to her side.

 

The annoying beeping sound of the monitor woke her up.  Before she opened her eyes she asked, “Was it all a dream?”

“If you mean the part where you disobeyed my orders to stay at camp just to dance on a hill, no it was not a dream.”  Yona answered crossly

She opened her eyes to see Noni, Yona, Stan, and Ishi standing around her bed.

“They would let only four in the room at a time.” Stan said.

“Half the island came.” Ishi announced.

She looked at Yona, “What happened?”

“Shortly after you collapsed a search and rescue helicopter came.  Seems a passing boat saw our fire.”

“Ishi shouldn’t you be making wedding plans?”

“My best girl gets lost at sea and ends up in the hospital, and you want me to worry about wedding plans?”

“Never mind that Lena decided she is a lesbian.” Stan added.

Yona lifted his eyebrow at her.  She gave him her best Maria glare.  Yona laughed.  Ishi and Stan looked at him as if possessed.  Noni only smiled her knowing smile and started to shoo the men out.

“Rest my little one.”  Noni said with a kiss on her forehead.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell.” Kaylee told Noni
“No need to tell now.  Doctors say you’re going to have a full healthy life.  The treatments worked after all.”  Noni soothed.  Kaylee looked up at Yona in the doorway.  He only smiled and shrugged.


© Copyright 2018 K. LaRue. All rights reserved.

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