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Sister Aphrodita

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SISTER APHRODITA

  DAY ONE

    Leilani needed a new house lamp for the guest the Blue Dolphin King had told her about, the troubled brilliant one recently dead. "There must always be a light in her darkness," he said. "This is your duty, Leilani." He slapped his tail in the water to make his point. Obedient to the god, Leilani went out immediately to the north beach where the glow-crabs lived and proceeded to trap one.

    She walked lightly along the shore, her short toes dipping in the water just long enough for a glow-crab to catch a taste of her life-force. Soon enough, an aquamarine light emerged from its hiding place in the low tide, scuttling sideways to reach the flavor.

    Leilani let her right big toe drag in the thin surf, so that the glow-crab would not have to leave the water to catch her. A tiny piercing pain stabbed through as the glow-crab got its pincers dug in and began to feed.

    She felt a sudden touch of tiredness as some of her life-force flowed out of her and into the glow-crab's little body. She lifted up her right foot and quickly putting her gourd in position, deposited the intoxicated creature.

    The next part was always her favourite. She knelt down and putting the gourd next to her child's face, peeked through the pin-holes she had made. Sure enough, the glow-crab was already in the midst of its transformation. Uncertainly at first, then with more clarity, the glow-crab travelled up the path of huna faster than the laws of Kanehunamoku normally allowed, a gift given her by the Blue Dolphin King.

    A tiny replica of Leilani's face now sat on the body of a butterfly, with transparent wings of sheerest blue. Large eyes--much larger by comparison to Leilani's face than her own--looked back at the human girl, imploring answers.

        "What has happened? Where am I? What am I?" it asked in pure thought.

        "Be at peace, Little Light. I am Leilani, your Mother/Creator. ", Leilani sent the creature images of her new home, the Great House of Souls where Leilani lived. "You will be happy and free soon."

        "Little Light loves Leilani," its simple mind responded. To show its love, it began to glow to its fullest, a legacy from its life as a glow-crab. Lances of radiance sprang out, illuminating the beach, still in early dawn.

    Leilani felt a change in the wind from the sea. She looked up to the south-west where soft lights of pale green played over the tops of the mountains of Kanehunamoku. The shoreline around her began to change shape, becoming the north-west tip of Maui even while she watched.

    There. Leilani could see it clearly. At the place where the rip-tide would bring in and wash up those souls newly departed from Earth, the very south end of the beach, a huddled form grew on the sand, becoming larger and more human as each wave lapped up against it.

    Leilani ran to the place, holding her gourd high, the light of the tiny creature within it illuminating her footsteps in contrast to the sand. Upon reaching the person, Leilani saw a haoli, a white woman, of early middle age, naked and convulsing on the shore. Her hair was blonde with brown roots, her face pale and puffy, dark circles of blue blood under her eyes. She thrashed about, bring the unwanted attention of several glow-crabs, who began to delicately sidle their way over to her prone form.

    Leilani tried to carefully insinuate her thoughts into this woman's thoughts, but the pull of her haoli mind was greater even than the rip tide. Leilani's stomach fought back against a feeling of vertigo. Then as if a mighty hand reached out from the woman's abdomen, Leilani felt her life-force gripped and contained by the evil images of the haoli woman.

    "Help me! I cannot hold her! she cried out to the Blue Dolphin King. “Her mind is slipping into the currents of the evil Mo'o! Soon her body will follow!"

    At once the nightmare of finned automobiles, masks and machines, all in the dead of night, became a dream of snorkeling in the Reef with blue spinner dolphins. The woman heaved a sigh and was still.

    "I'm disappointed, Leilani. The Blue Dolphin King said, his voice mixed with the surf. “Surely you have the wisdom and strength to resist these evil dreams."

    "This haoli is stronger than all the other six wahini combined," Leilani answered.

    "Yes. Many challenges and opportunities await you."

    "Could this be the one to set me free?"

    "She must be. I created the Training Place for Hawaiians, not haoli. If you fail, or she fails, I will unmake this place, and leave you both in the open water as food for the Mo'o."

************************************************

    Marilyn awoke on the beach in early dawn, to the sound of a young girl singing softly in Hawaiian. Marilyn put her left elbow into the sand, and lifted her head just enough to make out a tall slender form wrapped in a sarong, walking towards her with floating grace, holding some sort of lantern ahead of her. When the throb of her morning headache began, Marilyn looked down to see she was naked in a public place. "Oh god, I'll never mix Mandrax and lemon gin again," she moaned.

    "I do not know this Mandrax person, but I have heard of lemon gin. Is Mandrax a god?" the girl said in lilting English, or at least Marilyn thought it was English. The fuzz and daze in her vision said the drugs hadn't entirely worn off, so maybe this conversation was just a dream.

    "You might say that." Marilyn replied.

    "I serve the Blue Dolphin King," the girl answered. "He is the god of this place."

    Marilyn pushed the dirty bangs out of her eyes to get a better glimpse. Such a pretty child, no more than twelve, and already much taller than the aging actress. "And where is this place? I'm assuming we're on Zuma beach, because I can't see any houses. This can't be Malibu."

    "I do not know this Zuma or Malibu,” Leilani replied. “We are in the Training Place, which the Blue Dolphin King has created within Kanehunamoku for the lost ones to find themselves. I am to conduct you to the Great House of Souls."

     Marilyn decided to play along with this fantasy. After all, it was her fantasy. "That's great," she replied. "But sweety, I told my agent that I wasn't ever going to do any science-fiction. I mean I like George Pal—you know, the fellow who made 'War of the Worlds'---but that Walt Disney is just a dirty old man. And I'm never going to take second place to a special effect. I'm a star, you know."

    The girl rubbed her forehead in response. "I do not know these haoli men you speak of," she said. She stood silent for a moment, with her right ear cocked to the boom of the surf. "The Blue Dolphin King says it is time to show you your new home."

    "Who in the world are you talking too?" Marilyn asked, slowly and unsteadily getting to her feet.

    "I am speaking to the Blue Dolphin King. Can you not hear him?" Leilani replied.

    "No. I can only hear the surf. Great. Either I'm hallucinating this, or I'm actually stark naked on the beach with a little girl who hears voices. What else could happen?" she rambled.

   Marilyn lept up, back on her feet and angry. "Okay, so let's find out if this all just a dream," she said, shivering a little as the wind off the ocean picked up. "I need something to wear. Something nice."

    The image in Marilyn's mind shone with clear light. This would be easy for Leilani. "You shall have exactly what you wish," she said quietly. Leilani twirled around and produced a three-quarter-length red silk kimono. She finished with a small curtsy. "For you to wear."

    Marilyn gasped. Leilani was offering her not just any kimono, but the black-on-red silk reproduction of Hokusai's masterpiece "Dawn on Mount Fuji." She had seen it in a boutique on Rodeo Drive just this week, but was too coy to tell the salesgirl that she couldn't afford it right now, what with her production company just getting back on its feet and all. But here it was.

    "Oh, it's so beautiful," Marilyn whispered in awe. She allowed Leilani to help her put it on, one arm at a time, the silk against her bare arms and back nearly erotic in its intensity. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name," Marilyn said.

    "I am called Leilani," the young girl replied as she tied a cream-white embroidered sash around Marilyn's tiny waist.

    "Pleased to meet you, Leilani," Marilyn said, twisting her torso and shaking her arms to see if the kimono fit. "I'm Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps you've heard of me."

    "I am sorry, but I do not know that name," Leilani answered shyly.

    "I understand. You were born in what, 1950? 1951? And out here on Maui, you probably didn't get to many of my movies."

    "It is not that, Marilyn. It is because I died in 1888. On Earth it is 1962."

    "And I was just starting to like you," Marilyn pouted. "But since this is just a dream--this kimono proves that--I'm in the mood for a little silliness. So perhaps you'd like to expand on that last point."

    Leilani hesitated. Should she tell this haoli woman everything the Blue Dolphin King had told her? Wahini like herself were no problem; they knew of Kanehunamoku and were happy to be there. But this one resisted to the core of her life-force. Leilani, remembering the dire consequences of failure for both of them, decided to take the plunge.

    "You died last night. Evil men conspired together, and took your life. You were made to appear as weak, and mad. A suicide."

    "So that's it? I'm dead, and this is the afterlife?"

    "Yes," Leilani said after some hesitation. "This is not a dream."

    Just then a glow-crab decided to try its luck. It got a pincer hold on the soft skin of Marilyn's right instep, and dug in. She shrieked with pain and surprise. "Something just bit me!" She lashed out with her foot, losing her balance and landing on her back as the glowcrab hit the sand further in from the shore. It lay still.

    "Is it dead?" Marilyn asked, lifting her head up to take a look.

    "No," Leilani replied. "Nothing ever dies in Kanehunamoku. It merely changes shape."

    "Hallucination or not, start making sense." Marilyn answered grouchily.

    "Just watch," Leilani replied unperturbed.

    Motionless at first, the glowcrab's form began to go in and out of focus, like the work of a slipshod cameraman. It made Marilyn nauseuous just watching it. Then the strangest thing happened. Like an egg being broken for an omelette, the creature divided into three, and then each third divided into two, six tiny pieces of shimmering crimson in all. These lept into the air, heading straight for Marilyn, who threw her hands up to protect herself. She sat up, warding off tiny divebombing versions of herself, all asking what was going on.

    "Put your hands down," Leilani said quietly. "You are upsetting them."

    "I'm being attacked by the Tinkerbell Chorus, and you're telling me not to defend myself. You really are crazy." Marilyn replied.

    That was all the explanation the tiny creatures --each a perfect miniature of Marilyn, right down to the dirty blonde hair-- needed. They fluttered their red and black wings, excited to be free and so close to the life-force of their Mother/Creator. "Tinkerbell, Tinkerbell," they chanted, each one in a different key, like wind chimes in a dust storm.

    "I have never seen such a thing. Six from one bite," Leilani whispered to herself. "Your life-force is great," she said to Marilyn, bowing her head.

    Marilyn looked at her, speechless. She took a step back, turned in the direction of the forests and the mountains, opened her arms wide, and shouted. "Okay, Bobby. Okay, Jack. You can come out now. Your little joke's been great, but come on, I've got things to have ready for Monday morning." She looked back over her shoulder and said to Leilani forcefully. "Run along, little Leilani. Get your mother or your father down here, with a car, and take me home."

    "Who is Bobby? Who is Jack?" Leilani asked.

    Marilyn put her hands on her hips in anger, feet wide apart. "Bobby Kennedy. Jack Kennedy. That's the Secretary of State, and the President of the United States of America. They must have taught you that in school. I know what's happened. Bobby had his doctor shoot me up with drugs, and they put me on a plane to Maui. They left me here to clean up my act on my own, far away from them. It almost worked, but I'm on to all of you now."

    "A doctor gave you drugs, yes, but they stopped your heart. You have died, and wandered into the streams that lead to Kanehunamoku,” Leilani explained. “It is because you wished to see your new house."

    "Oh really? I'm dead, is it?" Marilyn shot back. "Then why am I not at the Judgement Seat? Where's Saint Peter? And where's Jesus, for Christ's sake?"

    Determined to hold her own against this wild haoli woman, Leilani laid it out. "You are not ready to meet the Ascended One. The Blue Dolphin King was asked to help, so he created this piece of Maui for you. But it is not forever; you must meet Three Challenges, and you only have seven days of experience to do it in.

    "All right, now you're pissing me off, little girl. Get someone to drive me to home, right now, before I lose my....aaaccchhhh." The last word never came out, because Marilyn began to vomit pills, fresh ones, half-digested ones, little bits of gelatin capsules. The entire contents of many stomachs spewed forth from her, narrowly missing her new kimono. When the pills hit the sand, they turned into snakes of many varieties, some garters, some rattlers, some coral snakes. Fearlessly, Leilani crushed the heads of the more dangerous ones with her heel, but still more came forth from Marilyn's gorge, along with an evil rotting stench.

    "You need my help," Leilani said. She got behind Marilyn, put her hands through the sash and pulled Marilyn tightly to her, showing far more physical strength than her apparent age would suggest.

    She began to chant the huna song of healing, while Marilyn gagged and moaned. The sun--created by the Blue Dolphin King for Marilyn's training--climbed overhead before the cleansing finished. Leilani held Marilyn as they both knelt in the sand and watched the last of the snakes wither and die under the power of Kanehunamoku.

    "It is enough for her first day," the Blue Dolphin King boomed from the surf.