The neighbors, she remembers now, do they have to be told? The Jones, right behind them, the haole high achievers whose landscaping on the back slope of their property is 20 times better than the front yards of the rest of the lane. Their boys, Chad and Bruce have been good friends to Matt and Bobby, close to the same ages, 8 and 3. And Clarence, the local fisherman/pot grower who lives two doors down with Peggy, his Catholic wife from New Jersey and their four children. They were so sweet during the dock strike, providing a care package of jelly beans for the boys’ baskets, the same jelly beans that Dina ate all of in frustration the night before Easter, a night like many others when Pete never came home. Now she thinks, Can she and the boys just slip away?
Above the sound of the rain pounding on the tin roof, Dina listens for the noise the boys make riding down their steep driveway in their Big Wheels. She can picture them using their heels as brakes, permanently grinding the red dirt into them, tattooing their little feet in a way that marked them as kama’ainas when they visit their mainland cousins. Even at their young ages, they will miss this place, too, born here, children of the land, not yet accustomed to hard shoes and warm jackets. Her mother-guilt self- appraisal starts in again, How could you do this to the boys? How will they know their dad? Their birthplace?
She realizes that it is too quiet, even as the rain pounds. Where are the boys? How long has it been since she heard them playing? She hurries out into the back yard, calling their names, quietly at first and then more urgently. She relaxes when she hears Matt responding, “Over here, Mom.” Looking toward the voice, she sees him sitting cross legged in the sunflower fort they built last spring.
“Are you keeping an eye on Bobby, honey? I still have some packing to do.”
“Bobby? I thought he was with you, Mom. He went inside a little while ago.”
“He isn’t with me.” She begins to call, “ Bobby? Bobby? “ Dina’s voice rises with each syllable as she runs back into the house.
She sees now that the front door is open wide to the front landing. She remembers that she had scooted boxes filled with toys out there earlier, just looking for a place out of the way. The unfinished front porch, with no sides and no stairs was perfect for the staging area. She must have forgotten to bolt the door, as she normally did, to prevent the boys from using it.
With a sense of dread, she rushes to the door. There Bobby is, wearing the Halloween Superman cape he had dug from one of the boxes out there, standing at the edge of the unfenced front landing, where stairs should have been. Drenched by the sudden storm, his arms spread wide, he looks poised to test the cape by jumping.
“Bobby?” Dina says softly. “Bobby, honey, come back over here by Mamma, please.”
Dina holds her breath as Bobby whirls around, startled by the voice, and begins to stumble. In what seems like slow motion, he lists sideways, his chubby legs tripping each other, and starts falling toward the corner of the landing. The red cape flutters like it knows what to do, catching the trade wind stirring in the late afternoon. Bobby rights himself and then throws his weight toward his mother, landing on both knees away from the edge. Safe, he starts a crying explanation in between the sobs, “The door open, Mamma. I gonna be Superman. Not really jumping, see?”
Dina drops to her knees and holds him tightly, her tears mixing with the rain, and inches backward through the threshold and into the house. She takes Matt into her arms then too, and the three sit there, crying and hugging.
This is how Pete finds them. Dina has dragged the boxes of toys back into the house and she and the boys sit playing with them in the entryway. The door to the landing is re-bolted, but the water that had blown in from the storm puddles around them. The crying has stopped but their faces show evidence still, red dirt streaks on the boys and blotches on their mother’s face.
Pete drops down beside them and joins their play. Bobby tells a jumbled version of his adventure, and Dina tells the real story with her eyes meeting Pete’s over Bobby’s head, silently acknowledging the near tragedy and each of their roles in it.
Dinner and the boys’ bedtime ritual complete their last evening together. Later, Dina and Pete lay next to each other on the big bed below its knotted headboard. No longer bothering to dissect or argue, they touch hands, fingertip to fingertip, and for the last time together, they sink into the sea of dreams, where everything, even forgiveness, can live.