her from the wind coming from the South, brushed her hair from her face and
placed a soft kiss to her forehead. “Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt
you. I only want to help. Please, don’t be afraid. I’m here now. Nothing is
going to harm you.”
wrapped around his waist, not reaching very far, as she snuggled in the safe
space he’d created for her. Jason felt a twinge of regret that he’d been so
harsh with her. Her head rested on his chest just below his chin. He ran his
fingers through her hair, sifting, whispering things he’d heard as a child when
he’d jump into bed at night with his mother when he had nightmares.
horror movie that had been playing in her head must have been something
frightening. He knew what fear smelled like. He’d seen women panic and faint in
the path of danger, unable to defend themselves or their loved ones. He’d seen
it all too often, and all too often he’d not been able to save them either.
back, trying to see his face. “What language is that?”
have been chanting, or speaking the circular rhymes they’d sing as kids. It had
come second nature and he couldn’t even remember what he’d said.
Something my grandmother taught me.”
palm brushed tentatively against the side of her face, and then he released her
all at once, and stepped back. His arms fell to his sides.
It was a panic attack,” she mumbled.
exactly. The attack was when you passed out. You are scared of something
That was pure, cold fear.” He sighed again, wanting to hold her once more, but
the blanket around her.
“Are you in
danger?” he asked, suddenly wishing he’d not been so forward.
But I’m far enough away from all that. Thank you, and I apologize how
ridiculous I was.”
necessary. Fear does strange things to people sometimes. But you were brave.
You fought well.”
didn’t. I was pathetic.”
difficult to stop. That speaks to your courage, not your skill.”
“Did I hurt
her fingers reach for his cheek which had now turned warm and was probably
swollen. She’d packed a good swing and the sting surprised him. He did not back
away, allowing the touch. His heart was pounding, beating like the drums of his
ancestors as she gracefully twisted her wrist and laced the backsides of her
fingers across the side of his face all the way to his ear.
have easily taken her in his arms and he knew perhaps she’d let him kiss her,
but he stood like a statue, feet planted in the sand, like the surfboards
standing guard at Hanalei Bay. The wash of waves lapping on the shore stilled
his restless and troubled soul, while the distance between their bodies
remained. She had the touch of his grandmother and some of the older women of
his community–the way she used to bless his cuts and bruises, especially the
ones left by the two Samoan sisters.
stranger was a healer, and yet Jason knew she didn’t understand yet what her
true capacity was.
As he drove
to his motel room, he knew that, if the Gods of his ancestors wanted him to
meet her again, they’d create the opportunity. The empty tin sat next to him on
the front seat of his rental Jeep, as if Thomas was witness to this magical
connection he felt to her. Maybe Thomas was laughing at him.
down at the urn.
speak of it.”
But all the
way back he couldn’t get the feel of her shaking body against him, the scent of
her hair, the tiny beads of sweat at the sides of her cool forehead, and her
probing but gentle fingers.
about her while he showered, and then watched moonlight glisten on the water of
the Gulf. He thought about her as he lay naked in his bed, his head propped
against his forearm.
left the sliding glass door open a few inches so he could inhale the ocean air
all night long, which was always his custom wherever in the world he traveled,
if it was safe. He dreamt of the beaches back home, lush and full with the
scent of flowers floating all around him. He thought about the tanned
Polynesian girls he’d dated and made love to on the beach, their modest
nakedness a thing of beauty and grace. He felt their full lips, and the smooth
flat of their noses as they cuddled, giggled and whispered things to him. In
those days, drunk on the discovery of sex, he didn’t realize how the ocean, the
beach and a woman’s body could heal all those broken parts he could not.
about the girls he met in Coronado who were a bit too fast for his tastes, and
wanted everything now, hard and deep, leaving him aching for a simple touch of
kindness or a word of wonder.
metronome, the constant rhythm of the ocean sang him to sleep in stanzas
stitched together by the calling of sea birds.
thought he had before he drifted off was that Thomas had brought him here to
Sunset Beach. It was a bigger purpose than the final good-byes to his friend.
Thomas wanted him to see the place where he’d grown up, to see the beauty and
treasure buried here. In time, he’d find out just what that treasure was.
As One door
closed, another one was waiting to be discovered. Whatever was on the other
side of that door, was his destiny.
would be a new adventure.