Friday, September 23, 2011

Koa Challenge

Jean-Luc wraps his arms around Kana, savoring her dark skin still warm with the late glow of the sunset, to grasp his hand over hers and tap the croquet ball with the hooked banyan branch. Feet scuffle along the path behind them. Jean-Luc stiffens.

"Ignore him," whispers Kana so her brother won't overhear.

"Square-rigger, go back to your dead trees." Peki has black hair like his sister.

The natives called his people square-riggers because of their boat's square sails. "I have rights." He knows he stretches the truth somewhat, but after months on the ship he deserves companionship.

Peki says, "Only Maui grants rights."

"Lies," says Jean-Luc. "My father signed a treaty of safe haven with the elders."

"The truth can be tested."

"No, don't listen to my brother."

"The birds chirp 'weak-weak' from the dead masts."

Jean-Luc lunges towards Peki, but the boy dodges out of his reach.

"Stop this!"

Peki extends a fist, turning it over, capturing the light as the sun drops, opening to expose black onyx. Strands of blond hair wrap about the stone. He throws it down in the sand, and it rolls to stop before Jean-Luc's toes. A challenge.


Jean-Luc ignores Kana, picks up the stone, accepts the challenge.

They walk through the jungle brush to the bay. Jean-Luc doesn't understand why his father signed the treaty with them, but then accepted anchorage outside of the bay, where harsh waves lap volcanic stone, outside the coral bay's protection. Maybe his father's weakness is why the villagers think they can boss him around.

Peki tosses a koa board at Jean-Luc. The moon is full, appearing as a double through reflections off the bay. Peki throws his own board into the water, ripples flashing across the moon's face. Shadows dim the light of the moon briefly. A trick of the light.

Jean-Luc follows into the bay. His body flat on the board, like the natives, paddling with his arms.

Peki stands on his board. He reaches out to the moon, grasps that, and impossibly brings it to his mouth. Maui's light gleams from Peki. Shining through his eyes, his nostrils, his ears, his fingertips, and his mouth. Jean-Luc tries to crouch on his board, but falls and feels the tentacle of something slimy brush his ankle. Soul's twilight beckons.


  1. I wondered if xenophobia, or at least culture clash wouldn't provide the conflict in this one. Jean-Lucs are so rare in islander cultures.

  2. It seems even on the island paradises bigotry still raises its ugly snout.

  3. It's amazing how much outsiders will be punished by others.

  4. The culture clash sets the edge of this story. I like knowing some, but not all of what is going on. The tenticle at the end cant' be good.

  5. @John, I guess those Jean-Luc's need to work on their image so more people will name their progeny after them.

    @Steve & @Icy, I can only hope that someday people can't understand the motivations of the islanders in this flash.

    @Lara, yep, not good.

    @Craig, Yes, I think you could call it a Kraken (and is part of the reason Jean-Luc's father doesn't anchor within the bay.

  6. Hi there Aidan -- I like your sense of place. The reverse-bigotry is refreshing (and repulsive) and the magic is weird and... tentacled. Uh, oh.

    Very good. St.

  7. I was wondering what was lurking in the water too. Seems there is no escaping a culture clash - not even on a island paradise.