Cruising in Kona
Melissa Llanes Brownlee | Flash Fiction
Tita yells at her sister to get out of the water already, all the tourists have left and she won’t be able to dive for any more coins. Her sister grumbles as she scrambles up the side of the pier. They walk to the showers to wash the salt off, Tita’s sister bragging about all of the money she scored from the stupid tourists. Tita rolls her eyes.
They change out of their swimsuits in the bathroom, avoiding the people camped around it. They would have used the hotel’s bathroom but you need a room key nowadays. As they leave, a sweet scent lures them to join a dude in a ragged tank top and shorts, sitting under the shade of the banyan tree, his dark lashed eyes closed, a wistful smile on his lips. Tita tells her sister to keep walking.
A man jumps out from behind the tree, yelling at them for being in his house, his broken sunglasses, winking one-eyed at them as they walk quickly past his patch of ground. Tita protects her sister, blocking the man’s approach, ready to swing her bag at him if he gets too close, his rancid breath covering their escape.
A strong breeze clears the air around them and they breathe in relief. They continue along, the seawall, rising above them on the right. A truck speeds past, and they jump against the wall, the wind of its passing, almost pushing them back the way they had come. A couple snorts at their fear, their matching pink running suits, puffing around them as they jog past.
Tita swears they had died and come back with how close that truck had come to hitting them. She wants to scream at the pink people and their piggy faces snorting. Tita wants to cross the street when she hears reggae inviting them to shop in air conditioning, but she knows that it’s just a tourist trap, charging too much for cheap island knockoffs, and they keep going.
When they come to the end of the seawall, Tita’s sister tries to pull her to the shaved ice shop, but Tita knows that she will have to pay for it but she only has enough for lunch and not both. Tita sees that the bakery is open too and wants hot fresh malasadas, but that’s not lunch, and their mom will be so mad if they had shaved ice or malasadas for lunch, so she pulls her sister along avoiding both places, knowing that the 7-Eleven will have cheaper and more filling food. Maybe they could even head towards McDonald’s for hamburger Happy Meals.
Tita’s sister doesn’t fight her even though Tita knows she wants to. They finally make it to 7-Eleven and buy Spam Musubis and manapua with enough left over for a Coke and cherry Slurpee as they wait for their mother to get off of work, watching the tourists pass them by, happy to finally be heading home soon.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer living in Japan, has work published and forthcoming in The Rumpus, Fractured Lit, Flash Frog, Gigantic Sequins, Cream City Review, Cincinnati Review miCRo, Indiana Review, Craft, and Moon City Review, and honored in Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions, and Wigleaf Top 50. Read Hard Skin from Juventud Press and Kahi and Lua from Alien Buddha. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story melissallanesbrownlee.com.