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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

TITLE: Shadow Warfare
By Tracy Nunes


Lehua put the empty poi container on the top of the stack and then placed the stack on top of the box. The box was laid over a broken microwave and filled with similar stacks. Underneath the microwave, plastic bins held more of her treasures, each a testament to a stubborn will and a deposit to her security account.

Next to the plastic bins were bags upon bags of silver colored riches, long since used bundles of tin foil saved for …saved for…well, just saved. They kept company with yellowed newspapers, bundled with reclaimed string and ribbon, held “just in case” she needed them.

She clapped her hands together and turned to one of her many refrigerators, “Now, I gone make Poki-Boy’s soup.”

Lehua began to clean out the molded, now unidentifiable food to make her special concoction for the dog. It was worthy of its neighborhood notoriety and able to empty out a person’s stomach at the slightest whiff of the noxious brew. Months of time in the refrigerator made it a wretched scent for most people, but she was oblivious to its offense. Wasting it was not an option.

While the pot was cooking on the stove she went and sat in the only empty chair in her house. Picking up her remote, she turned on her favorite TV show. It wasn’t long before she drifted off to sleep and dreamt of the days when Pearl Harbor was bombed. She’d been a STOP sign girl at Kaneohe Marine Corp Air Station on the island of Oahu. Her job was to watch for the incoming airplanes about to land. When they landed she’d put up her STOP sign and hold the cars from crossing the airstrip.

As Lehua dreamed in her chair, she could hear the sound of hundreds of honey bees buzzing out over the ocean. It wasn’t long before the bees became locusts and the locusts became Japanese Zeros flying over the airstrip. She dropped her sign and screamed, running for cover and praying to live.

She tossed and thrashed in her dream as the bombs fell around her and then the thrashing turned to soft whimpering as the days, months, and years after the war flashed forward in her mind: martial Law, blackouts and food shortages. The Great Depression had begun a work in her heart and World War II finished it. The prosperity and exuberance of the 1950’s didn’t stop the war in her soul. The era ended but it cast a long shadow.

Lehua vowed to never be afraid or hungry again. She went to church often as she raised her family and played her ukulele as she sang songs in Hawaiian about Jesus. She was a true believer.

But, fear and deprivation in her younger years caused her to grasp onto things to give her comfort. One thing led to another; throwing away a piece of trash became akin to throwing away a piece of herself. She stopped trusting in God’s help and instead gathered around her all of the food, clothing and animals she could find.

It was never enough. There was always one more thing Lehua needed to buy, to save, or to freeze in order to feel safe - in order to feel in control. Eventually, her things and animals took over her life and the walls of her home were obscured by boxes piled high to the ceiling. The narrow aisles between furniture became smaller and smaller as the stacks took over.

Her family tried to help her see that she didn’t need all of that,

“Tutu, no need all dis stuff! ‘Nough already! I gone bring my truck and start loadin’em!”

But, the offers of help fell on deaf ears. Visitors were rare now because there was nowhere to sit and the air in her home became difficult to breathe. She longed for the company of her friends and family but could not unclasp her grip on the fortress that had become her cage and, so, kept them out.

Lehua woke up from her dream and went to check the pot on the stove. “Mmmm, he’s gonna love dis!” she said. She shuffled out to his cage, bid him good morning and poured the deadly concoction into his bowl.

Like her, Poki-Boy was oblivious to the dangerous recipe.

“Eh, boy! You such a good dog, Poki- Boy!”

From inside the cage Poki-Boy knew her captivity all too well. He bent his head and lapped up the soup.

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This article has been read 636 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 02/12/11
This is an original take on the topic and very sad. Your descriptions were excellent and I got right inside the house with the MC. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/12/11
Many of us have never seen the inside of a hoarder's house except on TV. I have unfortunately been inside someone's house after his spouse died, and you did an outstanding job capturing the details and the fear of letting go,of suffering another loss.
Lollie Hofer02/17/11
Excellent title for this well-written story. Perfect voice for your mc. I have a Polynesian brother-in-law: you nailed the accent and "pigeon" English. I like how you gave insight to your mc's dilemna (sp?) without putting her down for it. Well done. I hope this one sits well in the judging.
Lollie Hofer02/17/11
Yay! I'm glad to see the judges agreed this deserved recognition.
Karen Pourbabaee 02/17/11
Congratulations on your win!
As a home health nurse I can relate to your mc, having seen many such scenarios & you depicted it all well.
Kathleen Langridge02/19/11
Your choice of descriptions hit the mark. You took me there. You evoked compassion for this dear lady in her sad and painful life. Congratulations.