Where it all started
21ST OF JULY
The horizon keeps moving up and down and my stomach churns every time it does... With every wave, every movement, every bounce.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Sam asks for the millionth time.
We’re both sitting on a booth in the cafeteria of the ferry, looking out the window. To the sea that moves, to the horizon that bounces, to the waves… Holly shit, I need to stop thinking about bouncing things. I turn around and look at the buffet a few feet away, trying to find something that’s not moving, but instead, I feel like I’m the one moving.
I guess that’s because I am.
“Not really,” I finally admit.
“I didn’t know you got seasick.”
“Me neither, I don’t actually think I’ve ever been on such a big boat before, all my travels have been by land or air,” I say, and then I press a hand against my stomach and close my eyes.
“Come,” Sam says, and I see her extend a hand towards me as I open my eyes. “I have an idea.”
We grab our bags from under the table and walk together towards the exit. Sam walks me over a hallway, a set of stairs and then leads me out a door which leads to the rooftop. There are four rows of seats in the middle, but there’s no one out here. I guess the cold weather doesn’t make people feel like enjoying the outdoors.
We walk over to the side and lean over the handrail, looking out to the sea. The fresh air hits me hard on the face and makes the nausea recede a little, which I’m fucking stoked for. The landscape is fantastic, and the wind hitting my face makes me feel alive. The adrenaline rushes through my veins as I look down to the water crashing against the skull of the ship.
I look up at Sam, at her crazy orange and blond hair whipping about in the wind, and I have to stifle a laugh.
“Yeah, way better, thanks. How did you know the fresh air would work?”
“I used to get car sick when I was little, opening the window was my way of coping,” she says with a shrug, like it’s no big deal.
I stay there for a while, and I hear Sam chuckle softly as she moves to stand behind me.
“Trust me,” she says in a teasing tone. “Close your eyes.”
I can’t help but giggle while I close my eyes, and I feel Sam grabbing onto my wrists and opening my arms to the sides.
“Now open your eyes,” she whispers, and I can almost hear the laughter in her voice.
“I’m flying, Jack!” I squeal happily, and then I find myself doubling over in laughter, Sam shows back at my side, laughing out loud. “You’re such a dork,” I say as I wipe the tears from my eyes.
“I thought you’d be the one to do it, but considering you didn’t, I just had to,” Sam says as she leans over the rail again.
We both look out into the sea for another while, enjoying the noises of nature, the wind rushing between us, the green mountains far away in the distance. We only have five full days left on this side of the world, and I still can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. I feel like everything’s gone by in a blurr, like we only just arrived yesterday and the days have flown away and I can barely remember what we got up to on the first few days.
“Are you ready for Christchurch?” I say as the pier finally shows up on the horizon.
Sam’s eyes are fixed on a random spot in the distance as she talks.
“I think so,” she says. “I think I’m ready to see where it all started, where I was born.”
“I’m here for you, remember that, okay?” I squeeze her shoulder, and she smiles and nods.
“I know you are…. Talking about that...” She trails off and looks out to the sea, her eyes lost so far away.
“Do you feel… weird somehow?” She asks while she looks at me, as if scanning for my reaction.
“What do you mean?” I reply as I lift an eyebrow. “I feel dizzy, still,” I finish with a chuckle.
Sam chews on her bottom lip and seems to think things over for a while.
“I mean… Nothing, don’t worry about it,” Sam says. “It’s probably the stress from everything that’s going on with the inheritance, I just feel a bit funny, that’s all. We should head back in, we’ll probably disembark soon.”
We head back inside, and indeed, not even five minutes later, we are called to head over to our car so we can disembark as soon as we hit the port.
Humans believe their world is the only existing place, but that is only because their minds can’t comprehend the amount of universes and kingdoms that us Gods have created throughout the years. The Earth as they know it is just the space we created between our parents, but there are also multiple universes lying far beyond, past our Father, and beneath our Mother.
In one of those spaces, lives my daughter, Hine-Nui-Te-Po. Hine is the goddess of night, and she’s the one that receives the spirits of the humans when they die and are taken to the underworld. Our story is a long and complicated one, but for as long as I can remember, we’ve been battling against each other. She’s been trying to draw souls into the darkness, while I try to lead them into the light.
What happened with Sam, that made it all worse. Hine wanted to claim her soul, was waiting for it, and when I saved her precious life…
“You won’t be able to save her this time,” she spits on my face.
I thought she was over it, but because I saved Sam’s life yet again, now Hine has sided with my worst enemy.
“She won’t fall for your trap, she doesn’t remember me! Just leave her out of this!”
“We can’t leave her out, brother.” Tu’s rage is palpable in the air around us. “We need what she possesses, you know that. The time is over, her whole world will crumble.”
“I won’t do it! I won’t push them back together!”
“Oh, trust me, you will have no choice, brother. Our parents will be reunited sooner than you think.”
After we drive off the ferry and onto the city of Picton, we find a parking spot around the small city center so we can eat some lunch.
“I’m starving!” Emma yelps.
“I thought you wanted to throw up only a few minutes ago.”
“Yes, but now I’m starving!” She says with a huge smile on her face.
“God, you’re unbelievable!”
We park up and walk around the main street, where we decide to grab some takeaway fish and chips so we can eat by the waterfront. I get a piece of fish with a half scoop of fries, and Em gets a piece of fish, a whole scoop of chips, some squid rings and half a dozen chicken nuggets.
“Are you seriously going to eat all that?” I ask as we sit on a bench overlooking the sea.
“No, because I know for a fact that you’re going to steal some of my squid rings.”
“Touché!” I reach over and snatch a squid ring, quickly popping it into my mouth so she can’t try to get it back.
We both laugh at the same time, and I need to make an effort not to choke with the food. This only makes Em laugh harder, which makes me fully choke on the crumbs and sends me into a coughing fit.
“Holly fuck, are you okay? Here,” Em says as she passes me over a bottle of water.
A hand against my shoulder.
I take a sip.
A hand against my knee.
I take another big gulp.
“Thanks, that’s better,” I say as I wipe the tears that rolled down my cheek. “I think I just had a deja vu.”
“Of me giving you a drink of water? Or of you laughing so hard you choked?” Em says between giggles.
“The laughing,” I say with a grin.
“Pretty sure that’s happened before, with how much I make you laugh and all, and how clumsy you are.”
“Kind of makes sense,” I say, and we both laugh again.
But I know that’s not it. There’s something I should remember, something I’m missing.
After we’re done eating, we jump back in the car and Em decides to drive. She thinks it’ll be better for her sickness this way, rather than being on the passenger seat. The drive will be about 5 hours long, so we agree that I can take over half way through.
At half past two in the afternoon, we stop over in Kaikoura, almost half way to our destiny. We park next to the public toilets, take turns going to the loo, and then we sit by the beach for a few minutes so we can freshen up and stretch our limbs.
“The road has been stunning!” Em says as she chews on a biscuit.
“Absolutely amazing,” I say as I grab a TimTam from the packet and have a bite too.
So far, we’ve been driving through the coastal road, which’s got stunning views over the beach. We even pulled over about half an hour ago to take pictures with some seals we spotted while driving.
“Do you want me to take over from here?” I ask. “I’m happy to drive, it should be just over two and a half hours left.”
“Okay, as you wish, girl!”
We get back on the car, and Em blasts some tunes as I drive. We sing, we dance a little, we laugh, but in the back of my mind, there’s something still bugging me.
His hand on my shoulder.
It felt too real.
His hand on my knee.
I swear I can remember the heat.
His eyes on mine.
I couldn’t have dreamed such perfectly green eyes.
My name coming out of his lips, it felt like a request.
His lips on mine.
How could a kiss so perfect not be real?
Remember him, Sam.
“Fuck!” I blurt.
Before I can rationalize what I’m about to do, my foot moves to the break and I start slowing down. I glance in the rear view mirror, check that there’s no one coming behind us, and push harder on the break as I steer us over to the shoulder.
“What’s wrong?!” Em asks, jumping a little on her seat and looking around the road. I can see the worry in her eyes, but how can I explain any of this?
I stop the car, kill the engine, and jump out.
“Sam!” I hear Em yelling behind me as I circle around the car, but I don’t think I have rational control over my actions anymore.
“Tane?!” I yell as I quickly look to both sides of the road and I cross it in a sprint.
“SAM!” Emma yells almost desperately.
I hear Emma running behind me, but my eyes are fixed on the trees in front of me. We’ve left behind the coast a while ago, and we’ve been driving right through a patch of forest. That’s when the new set of memories started coming back.
“It can’t be, it can’t be,” I mutter.
“Sam, what the fuck is going on?” Em yells behind me. And I know I should stop and explain, I owe her that much, but I keep walking forwards as fast as I can without running. I’m entering the line of trees as I feel Em’s hand on my shoulder. She turns me around in one sweep motion, and I’m reminded of how strong my petite friend is.
“Sam! Talk to me, what the fuck?!” I can see the worry behind her eyes, and it makes something crack inside of me. I’m almost expecting her to slap me and take me out of this daze I’m in.
“This is where I had the accident,” I say as I make myself concentrate on Em’s blue eyes. I can take a minute, I can definitely take one minute to explain. “This is where my dad crashed the car.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Em being short for words, but as her mouth opens and closes a few times, I need to fight the urge to turn around and run into the forest again.
“How do you know?” She asks, and a part of me is surprised that she doesn’t think I completely lost my mind.
I just do.
“My mother said it was two hours north of Christchurch, and I just… remember this woods.” I half lie, not knowing how to explain the visions just yet. But I tell myself that if I’m right, she’ll be able to remember soon.
“Sam,” Em’s voice is soft. “That was when you weren’t even 3 years old, how do you know?” I hold her gaze for a moment, unsure of what words to use. It’s never been so hard to say something to her.
“Please Em, just... Trust me,” I’m pleading, I will go down on my knees and beg if that means she’ll let me go into the forest. I need to find him.
“I… Where… Where are you going anyways?”
“To the place where I met him,” I say in a murmur, low enough for Em not to fully hear me.
“I just want to walk along the woods for a bit, okay? Can we just… walk here for a minute? I promise we can go after that.”
I can see that she’s not convinced, at all, but she agrees grudgingly. She must see the desperation in my plea. I walk towards the woods in a straight line, the scent of pine filling my nostrils and giving me goosebumps as Em walks beside me, her fingers fidgeting with her curls like crazy.
The woods are not too dense, and I don’t know how, but I recognise the spot only a few feet away from the road. I stand by the tree, and I look back to the road, noticing that there’s a clear path from here to there. I look back at the tree and run a hand down the trunk.
“Sam?” Em’s voice reaches me from behind.
“This is it,” I say as I turn to look at Em. “This is the tree we hit.” She walks past me and over to the other side of the trunk.
“How do you…” she trails off as she steps forward and runs her hand through the bark on the other side. “You gotta be shitting me.”
I run to her side, and see that someone’s carved the side of the trunk and embedded a memorial plate in it… And it has my father’s name.
Son, father, friend.
“How could you know?” Em looks astonished.
“I… I’ve been getting flashbacks about the accident,” I say as I run a finger through the word ‘father’. I take a deep breath, wondering if she’ll believe me if I tell her the whole story.
I really need one of the guys here to help me.
Rongo? I need help.
“I remember the day of the accident, and there’s so much more that I don’t think you’d believe even if I told you.” I look back up at her, and her eyes are so intense that I have to look down.
“Try me.” She says, and I know she means it.
I bite my lip as I shift the weight from one foot to the other. Where do I even start? Do I tell her that I pretty much died during the accident, and a God named Tane saved my life? Do I tell her that we met that God during our trip and we actually did a road trip around the North Island together? Should I explain everything that happened in the woods, and how my life was saved again? Should I try to put into words this feeling I have in my chest, like I’m the one that’s meant to save him now? Should I tell her that I have this horrible feeling that something’s wrong with Tane? How can I explain that I know something must be wrong if they took our memories again?
“I… We…” I’m mumbling, and Em’s eyes are piercing into mine and making me even more nervous. God, I was so sure about this, I was so sure I was going to find him here. That he’d be in the spot where we first met. Why is he not? What do I do now? How am I supposed to find him? I thought at least I’d find something here that would lead me to him.
“Did you call me?” A deep voice says behind me, and I turn so fast on my heels that for a moment, the world seems to blur around the edges.