Lia would drink a bottle or two of wine whenever that passion dwindled down for a time these days. It’s that thing about living, the part about participating. You have to get up for it, jump in on it, or it’ll leave you behind. That passion, you have to maintain it, even if it’s only at a low-level burn, just to get through to the end that you think was supposed to be. Not something untimely.

From where she sat at the small table overlooking Kapahulu Avenue, the light always shone in, from just after noon until sunset. It was good, facing west, feeling like you were always in on the action, having a bottle of wine, observing how things changed, buildings and trees, all personalities, all evolving identities, as the sun moved over and down out in the ocean that resembled a long, winding sheet. That time of year she loved most was when the days were longest, the sun taking its mellowing time to meander across the sky and slide down slowly, easing itself into the Pacific as if dipping its toes in to test the water’s temperature. Just out there, that defining edge, but still beyond her reach.

One day, she thought, sipping at her wine, I will chase that sinking sun on its slowest day when it will be easiest to chase it down. And I will bask in the famous green flash. Maybe, with enough passion for living, this is how it will end for me. With a bang and a joyful cry, not whimpering away in a dark corner waiting to be swept up with yesterday’s ashes and trashed. Not go out a hollow remnant compared to whatever kind of substance your time here allowed your being to amount to.

Her cell buzzed. Looking down, she saw it was her sister, Kai.

She hit the speaker. “Yo, sis, s’up?”

“What? You drunk already, Lia?”

“Eh, I can handle. I never get drunk. Only,” she paused, then, “more deep.”

“Yeah, more deep. You gonna get more deep, like six feet, you don’t get off the sauce, girl? How long you think you gonna last at this rate?”

“Ah, maybe long enough?” said Lia, scoffing loudly.  Angrily, “And what you making jokes about dying for?  Real classy, sis.”

“Taaaa, whatever. I didn’t call to get into it with you, sis.”

“Yeah, so what then?”

“Alfred. They never find him yet.”

“Alfred?” said Lia, her voice casual but quivering a bit. She hoped it sounded like she was trying to think where it was she’d heard that name before.

“Yeah yeah yeah. So’s you know, Alfred, your brother, Alfred.”

“Oh him,” she said cooly. How quickly we forget.” Her tone changed. “So how hard are those guys looking, I wonder.”

“Eh,” said Kai, “harder than you would care. The Coast Guard, they told me, they going out one more day. Then pau. Well, at least they never quit on him.”

“Uh huh.”

“Girl, that’s your brother. You don’t care about him or what?”

“Eh, of course, I care,” said Lia. “Even if we haven’t talked for like ten years now.”

“And whose fault is that?”

“Not mine,” said Lia. “I’m not the one who stopped talking.”  And she regretted saying that immediately.

“Taaaa, whatever. I knew you’d care a lot, so I thought I’d call you just to keep you in the loop.”

“Mahalo, sis, talk to you later.” Not waiting for a response, Lia hit the button to cut her sister off.

She poured herself another glass of wine, killing the bottle. And the sun hadn’t even set yet. So what, she thought. If I feel like it, I’ll drink one more.  Two, even. Beat the moon to the top of the sky.

They’d found Alfred’s slippers, shirt, and wallet on the sand at Kūhiō Beach, the place where they’d always gone for family picnics when they were young. That had been over a week ago. The authorities assumed it was drowning.

When you lose that passion, Lia thought, you get off before your sun was supposed to set. Alfred, always the best singer ever, had lost his passion once he’d lost his voice to throat cancer. They’d cured the cancer, so Alfred, she knew, had chosen another way out.

Lia looked off into the setting sun and raised a glass to her distant brother. “Me ke aloha pumehana,” she whispered.  Without your voice, she thought, maybe it is more like a whimper.

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