No Going Back

           It was the perfect time of late afternoon. From the airport, I went straight to Ala Moana Park. Tracing our usual running route, counterclockwise, I finally spotted her. She sat on the beach wall, staring out at the sun dipping into the Pacific. I saw that she held that Ni`ihau shell lei in her hand. The little remaining light reflected a tear track down her cheek. I walked slowly to her from the right; she had never liked people to be on her left side. She said it made her feel unbalanced, as if she were being pushed to the right.
           Not saying a word, I slid over the wall and sat beside her. Glancing at me, she looked back toward the setting sun, closed her eyes and reached for my hand. We sat there silent until the sun was just a pin-sized dot on the horizon and the blue dark night closed out the fire and color from the sky. The stars sparked above us.
           Finally she squeezed my hand and pulled it into her lap. Turning to me she said, “We might have done some kind of . . . “ – she struggled for a word – “damage?”
          It was a kind of question. Was I supposed to answer?
          She spoke again. “It was good we never told anyone.” She let go of me, then coiled the necklace on the wall between us. "I'm so sorry," she said, "but I've broken the clasp." Swinging her legs back over the wall, she walked away into the night without another word.
           I sat alone, cold and numb. Thinking of those Ni`ihau shells there beside me, I tried to picture their maker. My eyes burning, I shivered and gulped for air.

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