of The Sun
William Starr Moake
think she believed it was a coincidence that you happened to be
here on Maui at the same time as us?"
to the top of the mountain climbed steeply as it twisted through a landscape
that looked like a nightmare in the headlight beams of the car. The
driver glanced over at the young woman in the passenger seat.
"What time is it?"
"Five forty," she said. "How much farther is the lookout?"
"The last sign said twelve miles."
"It's cold up here. I don't suppose this rental car has a heater."
"It doesn't work," the young man said. "I brought a blanket
from the hotel."
"Where is it?"
"In the trunk. You want me to stop and get it?"
"Never mind," the woman said. "I'm still half asleep
"You drank too much wine last night."
"So did you," she said.
"But I'm used to it," he said. "You're a lightweight."
"I kept thinking that Donna would knock on the door any second."
"I told you I didn't give her my room number."
"What did you say to her?"
"Nothing. I acted surprised."
"You must have talked about something in all that time."
"I only had one drink with her."
"Tell me exactly what she said."
"She wanted to know where I lived and what I did for a living."
"Was she worried about me?"
The man laughed. "She thinks you ran off with some hula boy. She
said she was going to chew you out when you came back to her room."
"What's a hula boy?"
"You know, a gigolo."
"God, she must think I'm a slut."
"You told me she was your best friend."
"She is, but you know how her mind works."
"I didn't know her very well in high school. She hung out with
a different crowd."
"Do you think she believed it was a coincidence that you happened
to be here on Maui at the same time as us?"
He smiled at her. "It was a coincidence, June. Did you think I
knew you were here?"
"Of course not," she said, leaning over to kiss him on the
cheek. "It was just a happy accident. I couldn't believe it was
really you when I saw you in that bar last night."
"I would have gone crazy if you didn't recognize me."
"I thought about you a lot after you left Masonville. Why didn't
you ever write, Lou?"
"I wanted to forget Masonville," he said. "I hated that
Suddenly, he hit the brakes as something scurried across the road in
front of the car. "What the hell was that?"
"Probably a nene goose," the woman said. "Didn't you
read the brochure at the hotel?"
He pushed the gas pedal and the car started moving again. "It didn't
look like a goose to me," he said.
"They have wings, but they can't fly. Isn't that sad?"
"Maybe they don't need to fly."
"Where did you go when you left Masonville?"
"Los Angeles, but I only stayed there a year. I couldn't find a
job I liked."
"Where do you live now?"
"In Concord. It's across the bay from San Francisco."
"What sort of work do you do?"
"I'm a graphic artist. I design newspaper ads, brochures, things
"I always thought you would become a scientist."
"You were one of the smartest kids in high school."
"In everything except math. I almost flunked algebra."
"Do you remember Lester Givens? He was two classes ahead of us."
"I never met the guy, but Donna told me you married him. She also
said he's a real jerk."
"He is a jerk. I'm amazed he let me come on this vacation with
Donna. By the way, are you married?"
"Don't want to get tied down, huh?"
"Not if I can help it."
"I'll bet you have a lot of girlfriends in California."
"Dozens," he said.
"I know I don't have any right to ask," she said, turning
"I'm kidding, June. Where's your sense of humor?"
"Did you ever think about me in the last six years?"
He smiled again at her. "Once in awhile."
"I thought you were in love with me in high school."
"I was, but you were a tease back then."
"I didn't tease you last night," she said.
He took his eyes off of the road long enough to kiss her. "You
were wonderful last night."
"I suppose I'll have to make up some lie to tell Donna today."
"Why not tell her the truth? She seems to hate your husband."
"She does, but she's such a gossip I can't trust her."
"Why did you marry Givens?"
She lit a cigarette. "I don't know. I was lonely and I felt lost.
Lester seemed so charming at first."
"Donna said he owns a car dealership."
"I didn't marry him for money," the woman said. "He's
a tightwad, if you want to know the truth. The reason he didn't come
to Maui with me was to save money. He claimed he couldn't spare the
time for a vacation because of his damned business, but I know the dealership
practically runs itself. He only goes to work to lord it over the salesmen."
"If you're not happy, why don't you leave him?"
"Is that an invitation to move to California?"
She coughed when she took a drag on her cigarette.
"You shouldn't smoke at this altitude," he said.
"How high are we?"
"Nearly ten thousand feet above sea level. This the highest mountain
She extinguished the cigarette in the ashtray. "I thought I was
feeling a bit light-headed."
A moment later they arrived at the summit and the man pulled the car
into the parking lot. He got the blanket out of the car trunk and they
walked to the overlook. To the east the night sky showed the first sign
of pale light.
"We made it just in time," the man said.
They took a seat on the overlook railing and he wrapped the blanket
around both of them.
"Cold?" he asked.
"I'll be all right."
He removed a small bottle from his pocket, unscrewed the lid and poured
some liquid into the lid. He offered it to the woman.
"What is it?"
"At six in the morning?"
"Take a sip. It'll warm you up."
When she drank some and coughed, the man laughed and shook his head.
"Lightweight," he said, drinking directly from the bottle.
"They call this mountain Haleakala," she said. "It means
house of the sun."
"There it comes now," he said, pointing to the first rays
They sat in silence as the edge of the sun peeked above a mountain ridge,
illuminating a volcanic crater that stretched for miles below them.
Inside the crater the colors slowly came to life in the brightening
light: mostly black lava and red cinder, but also patches of sulfurous
yellow and even some green from trees at the far end of the crater.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" the woman said.
The man seemed to snap out of a trance. "Yes, I'm glad we came."
She turned to look into his eyes and saw the sun reflected in them.
"I always loved you, Lou."
"Let's not talk for awhile, okay?"
He said it without turning his gaze from the sunrise and a moment later
he pretended not to hear when the woman started crying softly.
© Bill Moake November 2003
Bill is a published writer living in Hawaii
all rights reserved