As a concierge, Kumai knew she should simply guide Susan to view interesting sites on the Puako underwater shelf. As a friend, she was less sure of what to do. So, she had to ask.
If Susan said that she would like to cut the dive short, Kumai would not complain. She needed to process what they had discovered involving the map, Bradon with Kaandi, and Lani her former Kumu’s involvement in it all.
And as of today, she had resigned her only job. She would need to hit the pavement for work. The Four Seasons customer service manager would be on staff for another hour or so for her to make contact.
Also, she didn’t want to meet Taka with her hair still wet.
She signed the question to Susan. Two fingers to eyes, hands swimming = go explore to see more? Or, finger to wrist with nonexistent watch, hands to form peaked roof = go back now?
Susan floated and thought. Her mask lens magnified her eyes as they drifted toward the blue wall of endless water. She didn’t look like she was considering the question. Preoccupied. She didn’t look like she was even thinking about diving. Kumai breathed through her regulator and waited. Susan’s eyes took on a thousand-yard stare. A tear overflowed. She snapped back to presence.
Kumai glanced away as if she had been looking at the, uh, her fins.
She looked back up to Susan, who signed hands swimming, fingers to eyes, hands peaked roof, and then pointed in the exact direction of Kumai’s home. Impressive underwater orienteering aside, Kumai understood this to mean that they might explore while they headed back in. It was a good compromise. Kumai wondered if this new friend thing could really be so easy. She was accustomed to anticipating others’ wishes and squelching her own. This felt like her own first steps on the moon.
The eel garden was a slight detour, and although Kumai hated snakes, these little guys were benign and fascinating to observe. A floor of sand had collected eighty feet under water. She demonstrated kneeling on the ocean bottom. Then she gestured to be very still. The sand swirled a Ginger Rogers’ hem around them and then settled. They waited, breathing like Darth Vader.
From the corrugated surface of the sand grey fingers of what looked like flat seaweed oscillated up to about eighteen inches and stayed there, anchored to the sand. The blades looked like a thin lawn bending in the gentle surge.
Susan reached to adjust her mask, maybe not quite believing her eyes, and in that instant the eels vanished. Small black dots in the sand remained then disappeared with the first rolling movement of the water. She looked to Kumai, eyes wide and amused.
They stayed down on the ocean floor long enough to see the eels emerge and startle back to hiding twice more, then headed back home. Kumai checked Susan’s gauge. She had plenty of air to stay under the rest of the way.
Once they got back to the house, Kumai directed Susan to the guest bathroom for a shower. She checked her phone. No messages. A shower first would invigorate her contact with the resort.
Mana was asleep on her bed, whimpering and kicking. She tiptoed past the dog and grabbed a white T-shirt and cut-offs so she wouldn’t look overdressed when Taka arrived.
After showering, the women met up in the kitchen where Mana had moved to sleep on the cooler tile.
“I love the way you’ve decorated.” Susan said. “You have a touch.”
“Really?” Kumai said in disbelief. She was tidy, oftentimes to the point of being fastidious, but her sense of style was vanilla.
“I may ask you to do my place. The gypsy room is festive, and the green room is very inviting.”
Gypsy? Green? “Oh? Well, thank you.”
“I’ve got to get going. But I’ll be back with Mana to leave him with you on Wednesday. Thank you for the dive. I loved it.” Susan paused then continued, “I hope that you were expecting that guy we saw from the White Benefit to be with that girl… ”
“Kinda expecting it.” Kumai shrugged. “It’s alright. I’ll see you Wednesday. It was great to get into the water today, thanks for going with me. I had fun.”
After Susan left, Kumai decided that she should put on some lipstick before she revisited those scratch marks on the pier. And maybe a little mascara, which made her eye sting when she poked it. Then she sneezed while the black was still wet and she ended up looking like Raggedy Ann.
There was a knock at her door. She grabbed a tissue, pumped lotion on it, and swabbed her eyes until the mess was gone.
Taka was at the door. He stepped in when Kumai held it open. “You okay?” he asked.
“Good, yeah, I’m good. You?” She asked.
“I’m okay. You been crying?” He sounded concerned.
Kumai almost wished she had been crying. He looked very comforting in a pumpkin colored silk shirt with a palm tree weave. “Ah, no. I poked my eye.”
“There are better ways to pass the time.” He said.
“Oh?” She asked, “Like what?”
“Pepper spray is exhilarating.”
“I’ll bet. But I’m a lightweight on spicey stuff.”
“Then you’re more of a taser girl.”
“Does that shock you?”
“Not really. I had guessed as much.”
Kumai smiled. “You wanna sit down?”
“Nah. I’ve got some more stops before I’m done today.”
“Alright. We can go this way.” She walked him through her clean house and again felt gratitude toward Bonnie. She wondered how she would feel when she saw the changes in the guest rooms.
They walked out her lanai, through the back yard, and to the water’s edge.
“Nice. ” Taka said. Except with his kiwi accent the word had more than one syllable.
“Your accent’s what’s noyce.” Kumai said.
“You’re the one with the accent.”
“So, that’s my neighbors’ house. ” She pointed to the glass cube staring blankly out to sea. “The people who… The couple… ”
“Yeah, I got it. ”
“And over here, on their dock, you have to lie down or be in the water to see it.” She bent over and pointed.
Taka stood and looked at her.
“What?” She asked. “You want me just to describe it to you?”
“You could have done that on the telephone.”
“Well, yeah, so that’s why you need to see it in person. The only shape I know here is the triangle. I don’t know how to describe the other marks.”
Taka huffed. “I’m wearing my dress clothes.”
“You are? For me?” She asked.
He raised his eyebrows. “I have a meeting. Maybe for you when we have a date.”
Kumai blushed so hard it hurt. She wanted to crawl under the pier and disappear. Of course he didn’t dress up for her. “I’m sorry. I should have warned you to wear your play clothes.”
Taka chuckled and got down on his knees, then his stomach and hung his head over the pier where Kumai had pointed. “Well you got here your topographic symbols.” His voice was muffled under the boards.
“Topo? So what do they mean?” She asked.
“I dunno. Not my culture.”
“What? Whose culture are they from?” She asked as she laid down to look again.
“Colonial.” He pushed up and faced her. “You know, mainland. And before that, Europe.”
“You mean that those marks are Olde English or German or something?”
“Nah. They’re symbols, not letters. Topographic marks.”
“Topo… Like on a map?”
“Yeah, like that.”
“I should have known that.”
“Why?” He asked.
“I grew up on the mainland.”
“Manya said you didn’t know your own heritage.”
“What? That’s not true. I’m Hawaiian. Hawaiian and… Well that just isn’t true.”
“Okay.” Taka said and stood up. He put out his hand to help Kumai get up.
She refused his hand, straightened her spine, pushed herself up and stood. Her foot caught on a raised nail. She tripped sideways over the side of the pier and fell into the water.