An excerpt from Color of the Sea
a novel by John Hamamura


Abruptly, the rain stops. Yasubei unbuttons his raincoat. Shaking off water, he turns in his saddle to check the mules. Behind them the peak of the volcano is curtained with rain. He can see individual rain clouds like huge dark jellyfish drifting on the wind. High above the rain clouds, the sky is totally overcast, a smooth iron-gray ceiling. Looking around from this steep section of trail, Yasubei can see for miles across the cane fields, all the way down to Awaopi’o Camp and the tiny flecks of red on white that mark the roof and walls of the plantation store, and beyond to where the land ends at the cliff edge and a towering thunderstorm -- massive ink-blue cumulonimbus spiked with lightning and the dark blur of rain -- marches in from the sea.

His horse makes a nervous sound. Yasubei leans forward and pats Pele's neck. “It's all right, girl. I've been through hundreds of these rain squalls. Don't worry.” Yasubei puts music into his voice. “It's just noise and water. It can't hurt you.” He feels Pele relax under him. Yasubei clicks his tongue, and they resume their journey down the mountain.

Stoically, Yasubei watches the monstrous wall of rain approach. So tall it scrapes the high gray overcast ceiling, so wide it appears to be swallowing the sea, it floods over the coast, and the land below dissolves into darkness. Greater than any tsunami, the storm rolls across the cane fields toward him. Yasubei loves the approaching crackle and boom of thunder. Birds arrow past, thrilling him with the soft urgency of their wings. Heart thumping faster now with surging excitement and a hair's tickle of fear, Yasubei glances around, even though he knows there is no cover nearby.

A gap opens in the clouds overhead. A shaft of sun strikes Yasubei, igniting ten thousand diamonds in the sweet wet cane around him, flooding his heart with joy. His eyes fill with tears of gratitude. To be here at this moment. Alive. Alive!

High and exposed astride Pele, Yasubei arches back, stretches his arms wide, closes his eyes and grins into the blazing sun, feels the heat fade, watches the red dimming against his eyelids as the rent in the clouds closes. Inhaling deeply, he straightens and faces the oncoming wall of blue-black rain, tugs his raincoat shut, buttons it tight, clicks his tongue. “Let's go, girl.”


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