Twelve Postcards from the Underworld

Photo: © Nadia Belalia. All Rights Reserved.


Greetings, Earthling! (I have always wanted to write that!) Supposedly no one falls and breaks their neck on the Makiki Loop Trail except yesterday that’s exactly what I did! Stumbled over a spindling root system, the impact of which sent me hurtling down the mauka cliffside newly felled of kukui and hala trees, monkeypods that might’ve saved my life. Would you believe me if I told you I felt my back break, each vertebra sheared clean off my spinal column like rungs snapping from a ladder? (In death, I wax poetic.) I hope you are well.


This all started because of how intensely boring it is to be surrounded by so much green. Emerald tree canopies and the choke of green, elastic vines. Pearling green ridgelines casting shadows over the city. How could I not run through the trail, even though I am not a trail runner like Jill, not even close? I hope you are well.


It was my own fault for pretending to be a trail runner like Jill because maybe if I was a trail runner then Jill might consider dating me even though I know Jill isn’t a lesbian but maybe she could be bi? Aren’t we all bi in our own curious way? Except if I were a trail runner I would know to take my time along the steep switchbacks of Maunalaha, that there was no one to impress steeped in the valley but me and all of those clambering red ants. I hope you are well. PS: How are your children doing, the living ones? Seems so otherworldly that I must specify that, but alas. Here we are.


Did you know you can still send postcards to people when you die? Only to a select group, though, so you’d better be mindful when picking your Top Ten because those will be the pals you will write to until the end of time if you believe in that sort of stuff.


I do hope you’re doing well. Last night* I thought about you so hard my jaw snapped open like an unlatched suitcase. Strange, still having all of my body intact and even my neck has been resewn onto my cervical vertebrae! I can pinch the ruddy flesh haloing my belly, those extra pounds I wore so proudly and especially in front of Jill, who was and likely still is all gaunt bones and cinched skin, who is so beautiful. Jill is gorgeous, but of course I don’t need to tell you that! You were the one who found my yearbook, remarked of this classmate’s spellbinding beauty. You asked what does HAGS mean, and I didn’t have the heart to tell you, not much at all. I miss those freckles that stretch over her body like pocked plastic wrap. It’s true I can see her from here, but it’s not the same. I hope you are well.

*Last night, maybe, though I still haven’t quite figured out the way time works here. Since I’ve joined the leagues of the underworld, the sun is always boiling and the moon is right beside it, lustrous and so beautiful, like a buttered croissant I can’t eat.


Just realizing now that I never described my new life to you! Please forgive all of the waxing poetic and the lusting after Jill; something about the air here, it’s shallower. Harder to think straight. I’ll do my best to paint you a picture, though remember I was never much of a writer. That’s your job, haha! Ha, hahaha. I miss laughing. Anyway, I am here, in H_____. I’m sitting on something resembling a boulder at times, a branch of spindly finger coral at other times. When the thing transforms into finger coral, I usually leave and find somewhere cool to sit. Temperature cool, not aesthetically cool. I live in, oh you’ll love this: a little grass shack! Not in Kealakekua, Hawaiʻi! Don Ho would be so pleased! The shack holds a mattress, a bedside table, a sand-to-thatched-ceiling-length mirror, a small closet. I don’t know what the closet is for, because as far as I can tell, no one here wears any clothes. We also don’t seem to have electricity but appliances run all the same—in the community kitchen there is a dish washer, a mini fridge, a stove, a small hot pot. There is a slow cooker that no one uses. We gum instead on banana peels and toss the fruits to the sea. Some days I spend what feels like hours prancing through the forest alongside feral puaʻa. I like it when their brittle tails rub against my spine. Pigs are best enjoyed when you don’t even think about eating them. I feel most alive on my feet, pretending to be a trail runner though there are no trails here and never will be.


Always I am thinking about Jill. Is she still trail running? Do her feet ache when she lands on the rigid lip of a tree root? Do her feet feel good? What size shoe does she wear? How often does she wash her sneakers? Does her father wash them for her? Does Jill think of me? Has Jill stumbled on the Makiki Loop Trail but regained her balance? Can Jill just admit already that once we were at a party, some ritzy estate in Kāhala where we downed tequila shots from paper cups and joked about all of the rich kids going to USC next year while our parents washed their cars, folded laundry, loved us so entirely it hurt to look at them sometimes, and that we let cigarette smoke bloom in our lungs and we let affection bloom there, too, even though Jill had a boyfriend and I hadn’t a clue, and that the kiss was good, wholesome in a sexy way, and after that I longed for nothing more than to have died already, just died on the spot before she could tug her lips away from me? Hundreds of thousands of lonely souls here in H_____, and still I long for her.


I hope you’re well. Don’t think that just because I’m thinking so furiously of Jill I’m not thinking of you, too. Why else would I be writing to you if you weren’t always on my mind? I write these postcards with a black pen stocked full of boundless ink, grinding my teeth. There are no shadows here, so I don’t have to worry about plumes of darkness staring over my shoulder. I knit my fingers through my dark hair, feel them snag on wet tangles. Always my hair here is wet and I have no idea why. Do you miss me so badly it makes your chest swell up like a wet balloon? Do you enjoy reading what I write, or do my postcards spring tears in you? You never did tell me how your living children are doing. You have never written me back, not once, and I don’t know if this is because of the intricate postal system in H_____ or if you are Moving On.


Please enjoy this picture of a honu weaving its way through finger coral.


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about running. Running is different, here, more akin to gliding, and while I have the feral pigs to chase me, I can’t quite harness that same trembling fingers, clashing cymbals in my chest sensation that distracted me on the Makiki Loop, sent me galumphing down the sheered ridgeline and brought me to where I am today. This, I am beginning to understand, is a human sensation. One of wrung exhaustion. Desire, as I had once felt grafted to Jill, is another human sensation. Already both are lessening. I don’t want to think for a moment what this might mean.


My favorite food: Cheese ravioli

My favorite drink: POG, the Hawaiian Sun version

My worst fear: Losing my humanity; also, centipedes and flying cockroaches

My first love: My own two feet

My star sign: Taurus

My best smell: Post-rain, when the entire world sweeps over with steaming light

My best friend: Jill Chu

My earliest memory: Learning to tie my shoes

An object I can’t live without: My sneakers

How I found my way here: Falling, daydreaming, boredom, showing off, immense love

My best dream: Holding a Tahitian pearl in my hands

My last pet: Dog named Stuart

My name: Mika


Here’s a memory: I am twelve, newly adolescented, allergic to penicillin and learning to run. You’re watching me from the beach, pineapple-printed towel folded over your belly. You don’t want anyone to see your folds, or the way you’ve let your pubic hair sprout from the trenches of your pelvis. I am just starting to see public hairs beetle through my bikini line. And I am so in love with running, with the whole ridiculous world. I love the elastic snap of my lungs and the way saltwater speckles my skin when the tide rises. I don’t know Jill, don’t even know myself all that well just yet. I listen to my bare heels dig into the damp carpet of sand. For the first time, really the only time I can remember, I don’t even care that I can’t find my shoes.

Megan Kakimoto is an APIA writer based in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015 and is currently a Fiction Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Conjunctions, Joyland, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. In addition to receiving the Ramblr Fiction Award, her work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Issue 13

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