Haleakala, Hawaii

Haleakala, Hawaii

A Story by Zypy Kirubi

Haleakala, Hawaii

       They had been happily married for 26 years. They had two kids, Sophie and Peter. Brian, 48, loved Ann so much and would do anything for her even if it meant going against the forces of nature, fighting death. He had been faithful, trustworthy, generous, loving, and every other element of a true definition of perfect husband. He had even been kind to Sarah, Ann’s longtime friend. Sarah was beautiful, unmarried at the age of 46 and  talked about becoming a nun. She hated men; her hatred was sometimes directed at Brian who rarely spoke to her. However, there was a time Ann had found Brian ransacking Sarah’s guest room but she had not made anything out of it since he claimed he was looking for their lost family cat that was hiding somewhere around the house.  After all, Brian only entertained Sarah around his house because of Ann.

     The couple enjoyed hiking. In 1994, they hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fuji consecutively and they were planning to travel more if their car dealership company in their Texas hometown flourished. One day in June of 2000, Ann received a phone call at a resort in Maui -where she and her family were vacationing- from the department of security in Haleakala visitor’s center. Several dead bodies had being found at the windward side of Haleakala and Brian had signed in that morning for a hike. The security department was sure Brian was among the unfortunate hikers who had died of dehydration and suffocation. She denied the possibility in anguish and hung the phone. Had they expected her to believe them? Brian had hiked so many mountains and he had known many survival techniques. He was wise to carry enough water with him and he never attempted great altitudes. She did not believe he was dead and she did not bother to identify his body, but returned home to Texas instead. Sarah offered to take over that responsibility and immediately reported to Ann that she had seen Brian's body in a Morgue. From then on, things were never the same; not without Brian.

       Four years later, Ann was still in a state of hysteria. She wanted to believe Brian was alive somewhere; Perhaps he did not die and Sarah did not really make it to the Morgue? Now that Sarah was in Boston, nursing her sick grandmother, Ann thought it wise to deal with her own nightmares. Bad dreams had haunted her every night since she had learned that Brian might have died. She had dreamt meeting up with him in Haleakala and the possibility she was going nuts as years elapsed crossed her mind. Her kids were now in high school and seemed to be progressing fine. They knew their dad had died in an accident on a hike in Hawaii but they did not understand why their mother held on to her past. Their fear of losing her to mental anguish grew day after day. It was not until she declared she was about to hike in Haleakala that they became aware of her mental illness. Her ambition, she pronounced, was to visit the place where her husband’s body was discovered; her beloved husband. She wanted to call Sarah, who was still in Boston, but then she changed her mind and decided to travel to Hawaii alone.

        Anxiety started to kick in and take the better part of her. She was not sure what she was getting herself into but she was aware of the fact that she was embarking on an intricate journey that was meant to call forth her patience, wisdom and diplomacy. There was a lot going on in her brain but she decided not to entertain any negative thoughts. Her priority was to find the place circled on a 1996 Haleakala map where the bodies were found. It had been the only time the couple had not hiked together in years. Ann vividly regretted her decision to snorkel at a sandy beach the day he died. She could have accompanied him on the hike.

       As the Helicopter landed at Haleakala Crater, she shuddered. Then she took delight in searching her heart to figure out if she might be faltering in her ambition. She opened a small book of values that she imposed on herself back when she was getting married to Brian. Nicely printed at the back page was a prominent message from a great seer that she read every time she wanted to perform a task that tested her strength; a task that challenged her power to make adequate decisions.

‘An Optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty while a pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity'-Sanders

       She took vital breath, Paternoster. Her ambition at that moment was to look for her husband’s death place. She did not dwell on what she was carrying and what she might have forgotten. She had one bottle of water but it might have been wiser if she had carried another one to avoid dehydration. She tried to justify her in-cautiousness, by claiming to herself that she forgot to pack carefully due to lack of time yet she knew her reasons were not sound. It was not her intention to act like an ignoramus. She did not want to die like Brian and leave her two children in anguish. She put a stop to all the huffiness and hobgoblin compunctions that were booking her on -a train to nowhere. However, she fortified herself against fears of her futurity; Nevermore.

       She bade the pilot good-bye and waved until the helicopter dissolved in thin air. Then she double checked to see if she had everything in place. She carried a pertinent journal book, a breviary and her demode coat in case of a cloud burst in her backpack. She entreated that God give her the versatility to adjust to the high altitude.

     The path wound like a long snake around the volcanic cones and she could not help noticing how the whole place had different soil colors; each representing the age of the cones. The most visible color was red. There was a uniform reddish color at the first side of the hillock to her right. Orange was also visible but most of the sand was dark with small and white pebbles. She, however, expected to see trees and bushes but there were none. It was quite obvious she was on a trail in a place that resembled a desert.

      She slid and fell several times on steep slopes and excessive sand on the narrow trails. As time elapsed, the journey became trickier. She maneuvered around steep hills and cones with less quietude. There were no signs of human beings. Everything appeared dry; the volcanic cones were dead. It was past five hours since she started and her stomach was empty; Inanition was taking control of her weary body yet she had already guzzled almost all of her water. The few scattered desert plants she observed were struggling to thrive through all kinds of adaptation mechanisms. They barely had leaves and they were growing so close to the ground.

      Eventually she emptied the last drop from her water bottle. Hunger and thirst fused into one. The walk drained her last foot-pound and it took infinity to go around the cones yet she was determined to hike and explore the whole crater. She heaved her backpack a little; it was tiresome due to her feebleness. She was reminded of images from the surface of the earth's moon. She wanted to move faster but her feet dragged. Her capacity to think clearly ceased to function; she could not dwell on one thought at a go. Finally, she decided to take a short break at a fenced open hole that looked like a dry well. The darkness inside was unfathomable and as she speculated, the hole was a good shelter for desert animals such as snakes.

         After resting, she headed northeast, the windward side of the Haleakala Mountain, and her pace started to quicken. Ann was about to reach the exact location where Brian was unable to fight death. She could see vegetation with grass growing in a widespread manner. There were low bushes and it was evident that this side received enough rainfall to accommodate growth. She compared the open field at the foot of the Mountain to dry Savanna grassland in Tanzania. She had being in that country with Brian back in 1998; on their way to Mt. Kilimanjaro. From where she was standing, the winding trail coiled all the way and there was no question the task of hiking to the top of the mountain appeared almost impossible. It was a matter of survival like it was in most discovery channels. No wonder Brian had died, she thought.

      Gritty motes clung to her pants. Sweat exuded from her fatigued body and soddened her shirt waist. Going around the cones had being a phantom-so atrociously incapacitating. Her insteps were in pain and she craved water and food. Ahead, she saw a small bungalow that looked like a barn. A relief; at least there was a human being out here in the wilderness. She could not contain her excitement as she started to run helter-skelter towards the cottage.  She hoped she could borrow water and food before embarking on the rest of her hike. As she approached, there was no one outside. A water basin lay beside an old broom on the grass and two broken chairs stood on one side of the cottage. The wooden door was partly open but she was too excited to even knock so she pushed it open. Jeepers! Sitting comfortably on a worn out couch was...Brian? Sarah? Naked?

 Picture by Anh CakeMix

© 2011 Zypy Kirubi

Author's Note

Zypy Kirubi
The story line is Fiction but the setting is Non Fiction.

Please, Let me know what you think after reading. Below is my prof.'s review. You are free to review too. Thanks~ zypy K.

Nice work on this assignment. You create a good sense of narrative tension in Ann as she embarks on her hike. She seems to be beginning to come to terms with Brian’s death and may be taking her journey to Haleakula to finally say goodbye even while part of her still seems to disbelieve the news. This opposition in her internal framework makes the reader curious about what she will find and whether the struggle will bring her peace. When I got to the end of the story, I couldn’t decide if the cabin and Sarah and Brian where a hallucination, or whether she had traveled all this way to have a very bad tricked pulled on her. If Brian had just deserted, we maybe should have some sense that this could be a possibility sooner—just one or two cracks in their relationship should do it, maybe a little more detail about Sarah—is she attractive, even though she seems unavailable?
I think you make the setting around the volcanoes sound real, though I wondered if they are a place where hikers routinely die. I went up to the top of Haleakala by car to see the sunrise when I visited Maui in the early nineties. I know there was a lot more trails off the road that we didn’t take, but I had the sense, because there were so many people there, that hiking was relatively safe. I could be wrong about this though. I was only there for a day. I’ve really enjoyed traveling the world with you through your stories. You’ve been so many wonderful places!
A-/B+= 90"

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You got me at the end. Very good. I figured you must know the area as much as you described it. Theres only so much you can get out of a book. I really liked it and I see where you have other stories of places you've been. I'll give them a look. Great Job!

Posted 7 Years Ago

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Added on May 9, 2011
Last Updated on May 12, 2011