This memory has bothered me for more than nine years. It’s very difficult because I was warned never to talk about this with anyone.
The awakening point in my life was the day I became aware there are ghosts among us.
I remember it very well. I was 8 years old and was spending the summer with my grandparents on the Big Island. They lived in an old plantation-style house. The back of the house had a small lanai that opened to a huge lava field.
It was a warm and humid summer night on the 10th of August. I awoke to the sound of running feet on the lanai and a faint calling from outside. I remember wondering, "Who could be outside at this time?" I started to shiver, as the air had become very cold and damp. I lie there listening … someone was faintly calling my name, "KAIN. KAIN. KAAAAIN."
As I looked toward where the voice was coming from, the lanai lights sputtered on and off. I was overcome by a strange feeling, as if I were being pulled outside. The weird thing was that I wasn’t scared at all. It was the opposite. I wanted — no, I needed — to be outside.
I recall stumbling toward the voice when, suddenly, the electricity went out — pitch black. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see someone or something about my size running out into the yard, playing and waving at me to join him in the night.
A feeling of excitement and joy washed over me as I sprinted out to chase the figure that was taunting me. I was grinning and racing toward the lava field when someone grabbed me from behind and knocked me down. It was my grandpa. He quickly picked me up and hauled me back to the lanai, telling me: "Don’t look back! Don’t look back!"
I started kicking and screaming for him to let me go. He shoved me to the ground and held me there. I was cursing at him, but he was staring and yelling at the figure in the dark. "Go away! Not him! Leave him alone. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEEEASE GO AWAY!"
It seemed as if everything froze for a moment, then the lights flashed on. I was no longer upset or possessed with the urge to go outside.
Grandpa held me down for a while. I could feel him trembling as he stared into the darkness searching for something.
He then took me inside the house. As tears rolled down his face, he explained that what I heard, felt and saw that night was the spirit of his twin brother Kaidan. (I never knew he had a twin brother.) He told me Kaidan had disappeared on this day many years ago when they were around my age. The two of them had snuck out one night to play hide-and-seek in the lava fields. When it was Kaidan’s turn to hide, Grandpa couldn’t find him. He looked all over until, finally, he gave up and went to sleep, thinking his brother would show up by morning.
But when he awoke the next day, Kaidan wasn’t in bed. Grandpa was so afraid to tell his parents that he made up a story saying he and his brother would be out playing all day, while secretly hoping he would be able to find Kaidan before anyone knew he was missing.
Grandpa did find Kaidan. His lifeless body was wedged tight into a lava tube.
From that day on, every August 10th, Kaidan visits Grandpa, calling him out to play. Grandpa told me he’s just lonely and was trying to lure me to join him on the other side. He said that only a very few people can hear or sense ghosts. I was the only other person he knew with this gift — or burden. He said it was our responsibility to watch over children so they don’t get drawn into the spirit world.
We talked the whole night about his brother and the old days. The next day Grandpa put me on a plane back to Honolulu. He made me promise never to speak of that night or visit him ever again.
A year later, on the night of August 10th, 2001, Grandpa committed suicide by hanging himself on that lanai overlooking the lava field.
They’re together now. They keep me up at night. I hear them outside my bedroom, calling.