from "Invasion of the Haoles"
In 1959, the year Hawai'i became the fiftieth state, Linda Higata turned seven. That was also the year the Monroes moved into the house across from hers on Lipona Street. She watched from her bedroom window as the green Rambler station wagon spewed forth children. She saw a girl her own age and maybe a boy about five like her brother Paul. The mother had a baby on her hip who was screaming so loud the little girl standing next to her had her hands over her ears. Linda thought she saw six children, but it was hard to tell because they were moving so fast.
Most of the time Linda's mother kept a close watch on her, but she was busy getting ready for her parents' visit. Linda had seen photographs of her haole grandparents, a plump woman with a thin mouth, her hair in a bun, standing next to a little, skinny man with a long-sleeved white shirt buttoned up to his neck. The only thing Linda's mother seemed happy about was that Daddy had painted the house last summer during his vacation. She sat at her sewing machine every evening after supper and made dresses for Linda, shirts for Paul, curtains, napkins, tablecloths. During the day she scrubbed the house from top to bottom.
One night Linda saw her father take her mother's hands in his and turn them over. They were as red as the hibiscus flowers on the bush outside the kitchen window. "Katherine," he said, "this has got to stop. Everything will be fine. They're coming to see us. That's a good thing, don't you think?"
Katherine shook her head. "You don't know my mother."
"Can she be worse than my mother? We live on the same street with her."
Linda could see the tears in her mother's eyes. "They're about equal."
Lester Higata took his wife's hands and kissed them. "Maybe your mother should stay with my mother. I read a book once where a character just caught on fire and burned up. Maybe they'd start a fire together."
"Oh, Lester," she said and rested her curly dark head on his shoulder. He put his arm around her and stroked her hair.
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Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
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Barbara Hamby was raised in Hawai'i and is writer-in-residence in the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee. She is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Babel and All-Night Lingo Tango. She is also coeditor of the poetry anthology Seriously Funny. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Mississippi Review, Southwest Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology 2001, and she was recently awarded a Guggenheim fellowship. "Invasion of the Haoles" is a story from Lester Higata's 20th Century (University of Iowa Press, 2010).
Established in 1969 and housed in the historic Kuhl House, the oldest house still standing in Iowa City, the University of Iowa Press publishes scholarly books and a range of titles for general readers. As the only university press in the state, it is dedicated in part to preserving the literature, history, culture, wildlife, and natural areas of the region.
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