Who is Keiki Kailua?

I was once in love with Keiki Kailua.

I was a very shy teenager and so was she. We were both raised as Mormons on Hawaii, and our eyes sometimes crossed in church. She was beautiful — half “haole” (white), half Japanese, the most beautiful combination for a woman there is.

The church put on dances regularly in the recreation hall so we kids wouldn’t wander off to the sinful discos. We sat on rows of folding chairs against the walls and the grown-ups kept their eyes on us.

For nearly the entire evening I fought with myself to get up the courage to talk to her until finally, maybe three or fours dances before the end, I walked over to the other side of hall and asked her to dance. I was surprised that she said yes. It was such a great success that I got into another two or three dances on that evening and in the last hour or so of every dance after that.

And that was it. I had no idea what to say, and apparently neither did she. While we danced, we didn’t exchange a single word. Neither did we talk during the week, not in high school, not in church.

Years later I found her in the Net. We exchanged e-mails, we made jokes about how shy we were. She was still in the church and had married a man who could dance and talk at the same time. She traveled the world with him and had three children together - the youngest daughter of which is still at home — and now lives in Las Vegas, where she works in a lawyer’s office.

She likes to write, though she seldom gets around to it: short stories about Hawaiian gods (still working on those), and young adult novels (“The Boy with Green Hair”, featuring talking trees, is nearly ready to publish).

She is still shy. She doesn’t want to be identified as a writer or a wanna-be writer. She told me, “I don’t want to be one of these guys who try to be the next Joanne K. Rowling by writing stories, I’m a wife and mother and I’m proud of it — if I needed confirmation from strangers I would have gone to Hollywood and made a fool of myself on TV.”

I suggested the pen-name: “Keiki” means “child” in Hawaiian and Kailua in the name of the little town we both grew up in.

- Eric T. Hansen

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