We stood in the center with the waves pounding our calves. We wore yellow and red proudly, branded with the mark of Kamehameha I. To our left and right, a mix of men proudly represented their own in either blue and black or yellow and grey. All three teams stood in form, two in the front, five in the back, waiting for their turn with straight backs and stern faces covered from brow to chest with dried war paints.
I knew without a doubt it was an intimidating sight and in the middle of it all, my sister in all but blood, and I stood, hair that hung past our shoulders free to whip in the wind, thrilled to be free slicing the air like thin knives. We had fought for this position, and we wore the honor with fierce pride. The only two females among males.
The ocean receded, letting the children who were raised playing in her waters begin, now only kissing our heels for a second as if wishing us luck. I could feel my bare feet become enveloped in the wet sand. As one, our entire team pulled their left feet from its depths, and they landed again just as fast with a unified thump against the solidifying sand. We slapped our thighs once, then twice and on the third time I roared, my voice sounding foreign to my own ears, deep, resonating among the whole of the crowd.
My team responds, bellowing my own words at my back. Our chests expand, our knees bend, then with a powerful pull everyone’s right feet are freed from the suffocating depths of soaking sand, and the resulting stomp is so powerful I can feel my bones ringing seconds later. I dig my heel into the ground for balance, bending my knees more so my hips are almost aligned with them. Then, again I roar, but louder than the first.
And they bellow it back fiercer than ever. I can feel my spine straighten with pride for my team as they continue, this time led through the same words by my co-leader. I continue slapping my thighs in unison with my team, a snarl on my face, but silent as I survey the crowd and the female to my right. As my eyes pass over her, I imagine her Aumakua, a beautiful ʻio, a hawk, perched on her shoulder, fierce, protective, and proud. I turn my head back towards the crowd as the slapping temporarily stops.
The snarls on our faces grow fiercer. We begin to rock left, right, left, right, over and over, then stop. I let out a fearsome snarl, more a growl. Towards the end, my arms raise, and I pound my chest hard enough to hear at the back of the crowd, then slap my thighs again. I repeat the pounding twice, and then my team joins me. Suddenly I look straight up with a glare towards the crowd and thunder, “Tenei te Tangata puhuru huru!”
To me, the words have a meaning beyond what is said. I Am Fierce, I Am Powerful but I am a fierce and powerful female, proud and leading the team that I grew with. The people behind me were family. We grew together, we sweat together, we cried together, and we celebrated together. We were one, we were equals, but that day they gave me the honor of leading them because I earned it and I carried that with pride.
by Elle Hamr
“If I live to see the seven wonders
I’ll make a path to the rainbow’s end
I’ll never live to match the beauty again
To the rainbow’s end…”
Rhonda twisted and flowed all around her quarters, not a single toe stubbed in the process. Singing along with Stevie and letting the music take her out of space for a short time while her white lace duster floated along behind her like a cape. A superhero cape in space, who would’ve thought? Listening to a song from last millennium, 1987, dancing like a naked crazy in the forest. They left her in control of manufacturing her own dopamine and she was going to do it however she damn well pleased.
As the song changed, she slowed as well, gathering her surroundings for a minute so she didn’t just charge off like a newborn bull. The only thing that could take this a step farther was the herb in her pipe. Less than 50 years ago when we were still on Earth, this was federally illegal to grow, possess, distribute, you name it, you went to jail for it. Now, it’s a highly valued crop due to its contributions to air filtration, fabrics, oils for lubrication and cooking, and something now allowed as a remedy to satisfy the stresses of outer space. The new lyrics took over as she took her first drag:
“Lightning strikes maybe once, maybe twice
Oh and it lights up the night
And you see your gypsy
You see your gypsy…”
Her silica crystal contained thousands of songs from her life and lives she never lived. Able to be downloaded onto anything at any time, this was the only thing she cared to bring from Earth with her. This was the only good thing to come from that old life, just the jams. But this day was special, this day was all about Stevie Nicks. Rhonda’s favorite inspirations always came while letting Stevie show her just how free-spirited she really is. This was the anniversary of her death, having died only two short years before they cured cancer and the aliens brought us agelessness and space travel. Stevie’s departure was one of those “another timeless Great is gone” kinds of deaths, similar to when Petty left us in 2017. An entire generation ached, and then some. Bringing these jams to space was her way of keeping a part of the past in the future of space. It seemed symbolic, but only she really cared. The other quarters next to hers didn’t care for her taste in music, and they made it clear by banging on the wall (a pretty old-school thing to do as well). She only turned it up louder each and every time.
“Oh Neptune, what I wouldn’t give for a piece of pizza, or medium rare New York strip steak…mmm ohh goddamn that sounds good!” She said aloud to herself, and Stevie. She was a Pisces, in the sea of space, craving Earth food.
“I can have Frankie prepare some Salisbury steaks if you like.” The ship’s automated personality picked up on key words to attempt to make the day easier. It was like a TV show Rhonda watched back on Earth called Eureka. A sheriff lived in a “smart-house” that did all kinds of crazy things and made all kinds of background observations to get to know you and make life “easier.” Rhonda felt whoever made the program had to have seen the show because its voice sounded exactly like S.A.R.A.H’s (the house, after Sarah Michelle Gellar).
Rhonda let her gaze fall to her window, and then beyond. The galaxy they were currently in was one of her more recent favorites. It was a beautiful red hue all throughout. It was a gaseous galaxy, relatively safe. Occasional lightning made for a beautiful show, highlighting the different red tones and thick pockets of orange, all flecked with various sized white stars. There were no large debris or asteroid belts so one could expect a smooth ride for as long as they traveled here. Some planets were restricted due to aggression, but as long as you left them alone, they left you alone. Other planets were mostly friendly trading planets. One red gas planet was where you could find space drugs like Morphitite. (Depending on the strain, it could temporarily turn you into another species. It’s common on the “Red-Light” planet because… some alien species are really packing…) Here you can also find Sugar Cane (all the benefits of cocaine basically) or sleep with any number of species space prostitutes. There really is a service for all there, even the PG folks can lounge at the bar and be left in peace with some good food.
They visited a purple hybrid solid-gas planet once. All the vendors there had the most beautiful items to trade. They had access to high quality cloth and their beadwork was hands down, the BEST she had seen in any galaxy or by any pair of hands on Earth. Stevie would have been customer number one if she had lived to see this place. Their incense reminded Rhonda of ones she burned on Earth, and they sold matches in little bundles to light it with. If she could afford her own vessel, she would stay here in this galaxy and just float around this planet on her little gypsy wagon ship and maybe learn some of that beadwork.
For now though, she had to save the money she earned from logging travels for SpaceX. She had the honor of speaking to Elon Musk himself a few times because of her detailed observations and whacky notes. He appreciated her weirdness.
Or is it?
by Anna Kubiak
The stairs are cold. The kind of cold that streaks the walls of a hospital warning people to stay away because the only thing awaiting them if they should enter is pain. The kind of cold that is ingrained into the walls of a prison, fortitude that serves as a reminder to those it conceals that they are at its mercy. The door is even less welcoming. Less welcoming because it opens and I’ll have to walk inside. People don’t usually do things they don’t want to. That’s why I believe that most people who enter this door do it because they want to. More likely they come because they feel they should. Some kind of gnawing guilt they hadn’t realized they suppressed pushing its way to the surfaces in an act they one day hope to call brave. That’s why I come. Except I don’t call it brave, I call it selfish, but only when I talk to myself. My mother wanted me to come. Because I’m young. Because I’m learning. Because it will be good for me. click to continue