Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wax Puddle

Photo by Ruth Shiroma Foster
A couple months ago, I woke up in tears. My breath was heavy, and my chest was filled with sadness and pain. I had a strange nightmare, and I thought I should record it before it evaporates from my memory, then from existence.

I dreamed that Naomi and I were attending a high school in Manoa, near the McDonald's at Manoa Marketplace. Oddly, it was a school that was governed according to the strictest of Sharia law, the kind of terror factor you read about in the news. It was nestled in the rainforest, with school houses constructed of wood and with floors that made quaint sounds when you walked on them. In some ways, the school felt like a treehouse school because you had to walk up a wooden flight of stairs that led you into classrooms shaded by banyan trees.

One day, a school administrator approached me and said that Naomi had broken one of the laws, perhaps a law that was easy to break by modern standards, though I can't remember which law it was. The administrator told me that by just cause, Naomi was to be put to death. I gasped. I was filled with rage. I spent the whole day trying to cajole the administrator to change her mind. I tried charm; I tried brashness. I begged with unabashed desperation. Nothing worked.

Then, in a moment of weariness, I gave up.

And at the end of the school day, they told me she had been executed. They told me her body and her things were in one of two "closets" near the exit. The school exit was at the top of a wooden flight of stairs, and from there, you could see the tar pavement of the Manoa Marketplace, lined with cars that belonged to afternoon shoppers going about their daily lives.

I stood in the shade of the trees, the wooden floor beneath me, the parking lot and green leaves peeking through the slats. The closets were little rooms that had latches on them, with thin plywood doors and chipping green paint. Naomi would be in the first closet, along with her books and her book bag. They told me I could look in to say goodbye. With the afternoon light brushing my face, I loosened the latch and pulled open the door. There she was, lying in eerie silence with her lips slightly apart, her eyelids fallen, as if sleeping. I was boiling, my breath hard and short. I wanted to scream, but my spirit was so tired, I could do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stepped toward the stairs, then walked down toward the black parking lot, in the hot afternoon, my knees melting like candlesticks. I reached the parking lot, the weight of my body becoming more and more difficult to bear, and then I became a puddle on the pavement.