I stepped out of my house into sunshine and the sound of some good music. Next door, Sara bent over her guitar, the bright green and pink strap of her swimsuit tied behind her neck. She sang for her sisters and their friends, all sitting around in her open garage, in a bunch of folding camp chairs. I walked past them and they all waved.
Next house down, Peter sat on the ground on his front porch, hacking at a coconut husk with a good-sized sharp knife. “Hey, Pete,” I called. “Nat and I are going on a hike, want to come?”
He squinted up at me. “Nah, I got work later.”
“K, see ya,” I said.
I met Natono at the trail-head at the base of the hill behind my street. It led right up into the Hawaiian jungle. He already had his machete out. We were going to hack our way straight through to the top of the ridge, then hike around to some waterfall I hadn’t been to before.
It was a hot day, but not too bad in the shade of the guava trees. Their long, skinny trunks covered the hillside. Invasive species, I thought. Just like me. Natono picked a few and tossed one back to me. It took some work to suck the sweet fruit away from the huge wad of seeds in the middle.
We found a dry stream bed and followed it up the hillside until we came to a big pile of rocks in our way.
“Rock slide,” Natono pointed up the side of the slope. “Looks new. See that bush, it’s half-buried.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Hey, is that a cave?”
We climbed up to the dark, round entrance.
“Is this some kind of lava tunnel?” I asked, stepping inside. It was narrow, but it went back a long way. In the dark my foot touched something soft that crunched a little. My eyes were only beginning to adjust to the dark. I reached down and felt soft feathers, then something dry and hard, like dried palm leaves. There was something long and white there too, like a stick.
Bones! It was bones, and the feathers were part of a cape. I jerked my hand away. I could see dark shapes of wooden carvings now, with broad faces, big eyes, and fierce frowning mouths.
“My dad is going to freak!” I said.
“Yeah, he’s some anthropologist guy, right?” Natono said. “Better not touch anything, it might be cursed!” he teased.
“Yeah, right, more like my dad would kill me. I want to go back and tell him, right now,”
We scrambled back down to the dry stream bed and started home, but we couldn’t find the guava grove we’d passed through on the way up. That was no problem. In Hawaii it’s really hard to get lost. You go downhill and eventually you get to the ocean, and before the ocean there’s a highway, and there’s only one highway, so there’s no way to get really lost.
We ended up sticking to the dry stream bed and following it down. A flash of red darted by and at first I thought it was a cardinal, but then when it landed I saw it wasn’t the right shape. It had a long, curved beak.
“I’ve never seen a bird like that,” I said.
“I’iwi, I think,” Nat said. “I've never seen one either.”
A few more steps and the jungle parted into a beach.
We hadn’t crossed a road.