Here’s a sample from some work in progress:
A Call to the Bottom of the Sea
“I had three kids, but only one of them survived,” Neville begins, looking out over the water. “One of them, at age three, fell off a chair and died. He used to run to the front of the house to meet me when I came home from work. His mother would run after him to catch him. He wasn’t a steady walker. One day she didn’t catch him in time, and our child died.
My second child died at age seventeen. He was coming home with his friend from a party in New Plymouth and his friend drove straight into a brick wall. Drunk driving, it must have been. My son was sitting in the front seat.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“My third son suffered after his brother died. But now he has a partner in New Plymouth who lost her brother the same way, drunk driving. They’re both on medication for depression. They support each other.”
Neville pauses to take a sip of his flat white. The ends of his sentences lilt up into the air. His shoulders hunch forward from the rest of his body, radiating a life of doing work on small things, thinking inwardly. The midday light makes his bald head shine, the same way it glistens off of the bottom of the pots and pans hanging from the wall.
There’s a laminated sign in the hallway next to a picture of a Maori ancestor and a woven flax pattern that says, Bald heads are beautiful. People with ugly heads have hair to cover them up!
“I am a matakite, a healer,” Neville announces, as if coming back from a trance. “I see things. My great grand aunt, Waikura, was also a matakite. I learned from her.
“A friend of the family went missing. His sister called me up to say that the family needed help. Well, I went to look. He was 4 kilometers out at sea. He talked to me.
‘Where are you?’ I asked.
‘At the bottom of the sea,’ he said.
‘You need to come back for your family.’
‘Okay,’ he said.
“I told the family to be at the shore in four days time, but he made it back in two. The family wasn’t there to receive his body. Two tourists found him and alerted the police. The family buried his body a few days later.
“Later on I was sitting right there on that chair, watching TV,” Neville continues, pointing to the spot, “and I see this figure with a hoodie on walking by. It was the boy. He said: ‘Thank you for bringing me back to my family,’ and then he disappeared. Merepaea was out working in the garden and I asked her if she saw anyone walk by. She said, ‘No.’”
“How do you do it? The communication, I mean.”
Neville waves his fingertips ever so slightly in front of his torso. “It’s a focusing. Merepaea can do it, too. She can see a dark spot where the injury is. Well, I don’t know if you believe in all of that. Do you?”
His cat, a grey tabby, comes and nuzzles against my leg. “I think I do.”
Later that night, just after sunset, I talk with Merepaea.
“What did you eat for lunch?” she asks.
“I had some toast. Neville and I shared stories over a flat white. He told me a bit about his healing work.”
“Ah, yes. That.”
“It’s an art form, really. Being able to see so much.”
“It’s a gift, but it can get tiring.”