Chapter 1: Feed her.
Actually, no don’t feed her. She can feed herself. Just don’t judge her if she wants to eat Spam. She can’t help it.
Chapter 2: Water her.
She needs the ocean, but any river, lake, stream, pond, inflatable pool will do.
Chapter 3: Love her.
As she is, no more, no less, no matter how big or small or loud or quiet or how she slips into pidgin when she is angry or drunk or both.
Chapter 4: Touch her.
She wants hugs but not all the time, or every day, or only when you want it.
Chapter 5: Leave her be.
She doesn’t need to be rescued and she doesn’t need to rescue you. You are not Platonic selves split in two. You are individuals with their own damn baggage. Figure out your own shit first before trying to solve anyone else’s, especially hers.
Chapter 6: Talk with her.
She is more than an avatar of what you think Hawaii is. She is the end result of colonialism, imperialism, Mormonism, Protestantism, commercialism, tourism, and multi-generational traumas. She might open your eyes.
Chapter 7: Support her.
No matter what crazy diets, exercise plans, music lessons, writing workshops, art classes she obsesses over.
Chapter 8: Trust her.
She will always be there for you. She’s loyal. Until you piss her off. Warning - Don’t do that.
Chapter 9: Be worthy of her.
She’s worth it. Work on yourself. Get your life together. Be equals. Be human. Or don’t date, get into a relationship, and marry her. You have been warned but it’s totally worth it. Trust me.
Melissa Llanes Brownlee (she/her), a native Hawaiian writer, living in Japan, has fiction in The Citron Review, Waxwing, Milk Candy Review, Claw & Blossom, Bending Genres, The Lumiere Review, Micro Podcast, (mac)ro(mic), and elsewhere. She was selected for Best Small Fictions 2021. She tweets @lumchanmfa and talks story at www.melissallanesbrownlee.com.