He’s much too smart to fall for this, but he wants it to be true. He wants it to be true more than he wants the truth. The smile that breaks across his face is cautious, but so beautiful that I can’t look away. I would lie to him again for that smile.
“Now,” I say. “What’s under that thing?”
He hands me a corner of the tarp and I pull it aside.
At first I’m not sure what I’m looking at. It’s like reading a seemingly random collection of words before the sentence becomes clear.
“It’s beautiful,” I say.
“It’s called an orrery.”
“This is what you’ve been doing up here? Making universes?”
A small wind blows and the planets spin slowly. We both watch their motion without speaking.
“Are you sure about this?” Doubt has crept back into his voice.
“Please help me, Olly. Please.” I point to the orrery. “I need to escape, too, just for a little while.”
He nods. “Where do you want to go?”
Aloha means HELLO
AND good-bye, Part TWO
“Mads, be serious. We can’t go to Hawaii.”
“Why not? I got us plane tickets. I booked us a hotel.”
We’re sitting in Olly’s car in the driveway. He puts the key in the ignition, but doesn’t turn it.
“Are you kidding?” he asks, scrutinizing my face for evidence that I’m kidding. He doesn’t find any and begins shaking his head slowly. “Hawaii is three thousand miles away.”
“Hence the airplane.”
He ignores my attempt at levity. “You’re serious? When did you do this? How? Why?”
“One more question and you’ll have a Fast Five,” I say.
He leans forward, presses his forehead into the steering wheel.
“Last night with a credit card because I want to see the world.”
“You have a credit card?”
“I got my own a few weeks ago. There are perks to hanging out with an older woman.”
He pulls his forehead off the wheel, but still stares straight ahead not meeting my eyes. “What if something happens to you?”
“But what if it does?”
“I have the pills, Olly. They’re going to work.”
He squeezes his eyes shut and puts his hand on the key. “You know we have plenty of world right here in Southern California.”
“But no humuhumunukunukuapua’a.”
A small half smile forms at the corner of his lips. I need to make it spread across his entire face.
He turns to face me. “What are you talking about?”
“What is a humu-whatever?”
“The state fish of Hawaii.”
His smile broadens. “Of course it is.” He turns the key in the ignition. His eyes linger on his house and his smile fades, just slightly. “How long?”
“OK.” He grabs my hand and gives it a quick kiss. “Let’s go see this fish.”
Olly’s mood gets better, lighter somehow the farther away from his house that we get. This trip gives him the perfect excuse to let go of the burden of his family for a little while, at least. Also, an old friend of his from New York, Zach, lives in Maui.
“You’ll love him,” he tells me.
“I’ll love everything,” I respond.
Our flight’s not until 7 a.m. and I have a detour I want to make.
Being in his car is like being in a very loud, very fast moving bubble. He refuses to open the windows. Instead, he presses a button on the dashboard that prevents air circulation. The sound of the tires on asphalt is like someone hissing low and constant into my ears. I fight the urge to cover them.
Olly says we’re not going very fast, but to me we’re hurtling through space. I’ve read that passengers on high-speed trains say that the world outside the train blurs from the speed. I know we’re not going anywhere near that fast. But still, the landscape moves too quickly for my slow eyes to hold on to. I barely catch glimpses of houses in the brown hills in the distance. Overhead signs with cryptic symbols and writing come and go before I can decipher them. Bumper stickers and license plates appear and disappear in a blink.
Even though I understand the physics of it, I find it strange that my body could be moving though I am sitting still. Well, not exactly still. I’m pushed backward into my seat whenever Olly accelerates and I lurch forward whenever he brakes.
Every so often we slow down enough and I can see other people in their cars.