Old Places

The pedestrian walkway over the H1 is empty now, at midnight, save for the two of us.

We walked down off Bingham Street, carrying white plastic bags of provisions for the night from the Long’s on King Street. We wait until we get to the top of the long staircase at the corner of the bridge before we open them. A Kona Longboard Golden Ale for me. A red plastic Coca-Cola for him. We pop open our drinks and toast. Cheers.

“God,” he says. “This town.”

He stares down off the bridge at the highway, an orange-lit grey slab, stretching on and on. Dozens of cars fly by silently in both directions, off to invisible destinations all over the island. My friend grunts. He’s been back for two weeks and this is his last night in Hawaii before he goes back up to his new school and new life in Oregon.

He pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his bag and offers me one. I don’t smoke, but I don’t mind. He materializes a Zippo lighter from his jacket pocket and lights a cigarette. I use the same lighter to light mine. We sit for a minute.

“Remember Dr. Kelly’s class?” he asks me suddenly. The usual questions.

“I remember it was awful,” I return. “I remember we wrote thirty papers.”

He nods, taking another sip of the coke, a puff on the cigarette, and spits off the side of the bridge. “What was the name of that girl in the class with us? I remember her.”

“There were a few girls in that class.”

“Five-ten, the leggy blond? Sat right in front of you, I never forgot her.”

“Oh. Emily.”

“Emily,” he says to himself, as if trying to preserve it in his mind. He takes a long drag off the cigarette. “God, what became of her?”

“She has a daughter now.”

He turns to me, coughs. “No shit?”

“No shit. Savannah, I believe, is the girl’s name.”

“How do you know?”

“I saw them.”

“This summer?”

“No, in the spring. When you were up in school.”

“Damn.” He nods. “She still look as good as she did then?”

“Emily? I guess."

“You guess?"

“I saw her briefly, at the Starbucks near Ward. We talked for a little bit,” I say, remembering. “It was nice. She was nice. I don’t think I ever spoke to her in high school.”

“Well, I never spoke to her either, but that wasn’t why I asked. She still—” he puts the cigarette in his mouth so he can use his hands to cup two generous-sized imaginary breasts on his chest.

“I don’t know,” I say, turning away. “Probably.” He shakes his head. I shrug, take a sip of beer. “Do you ever see any of the people from high school?”

“What, in Oregon? No, I don’t see anybody,” he tells me, draining the cigarette.

“No one? There were a bunch of people in our graduating class who went up. To Reed too, I think.”
He shrugs. “They probably do, but I stay in a lot so I don’t run into many people.”

“Stay in doing what?”

“Playing games. Reading.”


“Yeah. Some of the ones we used to play in high school?”

“Oh. Yeah,” I say. He takes a long swig of the coke. I take another sip of beer.

“What about you, still hanging around the guys, the usual?”

“Not really,” I tell him, taking another puff on the cigarette. “We’re all kind of doing our own things now. Changing, I guess.”

He laughs loudly, once. “Nothing changes in Hawaii, man. You see that only when you leave and come back. You’re here, all the time.” He pauses, as if waiting for an argument to blossom. I don’t say anything. He goes on. “Don’t know if you can see it, is all.”

“There are changes, but they’re different; more subtle.” I say. He’s staring at the coca-cola, swirls the remaining contents around, as if it’s going faster than he’d like. He shrugs.

“Let’s take a walk,” he declares. “I want to walk through Manoa,” he says. “See the old places. You must be sick of it all, but it’s been awhile for me,” he says, finishing the cigarette and putting it out. He stands.

“Last time I saw it was with you, the last time you were here.”

I put out my own cigarette and we start to make our way across the bridge. He turns to me, with the pack of smokes. “Take it,” he tells me. “I got another for myself in the bag.”

“Thanks,” I say, taking the box. I turn it over in my hands once and notice it’s lighter than I thought it’d be. When we get to the 7-Eleven at the McCully-Wilder Intersection, I am careful to make sure he doesn’t see me throw it away.

Talk story

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