Ahu looked out to sea. “Where is he?” she asked but the sea just growled to itself and ignored her. The wind had got up and started shaking the trees and had now whipped the sea into a frenzy. She wanted to leave the shore and go and search for yams but she needed to know he was safe. He should be home soon but there was no sign of him on the water. He had gone with Hi’ilei fishing. They were to go to a distant island but with the weather worsening she couldn’t see its shape any more. She was always frightened when he was not close.
They were an unlikely couple. He had been stolen when just a boy from another island in the Pacific and had been absorbed into the community. She was an orphan, and had been looked after by aunts and treated almost as one of their children….almost. Almost, meant that she had more work to do than her cousins. It wasn’t fair but she knew no other life and never thought of the future. That was until she became of marriageable age and the community thought it would be a big joke to have her marry the boy from over the sea. His name was Ahuahu which meant “healthy and strong”. Ahu on the other hand meant “to look after”, which was another reason for everyone to laugh. So the two outcasts were married. There was no great ceremony, just a gathering and a pronouncement. Ahu was merely told she now had to look after Ahuahu, so she did.
In their shelter she said “I am frightened.”
“I will not hurt you” he replied.
“I will try to be a good wife”
“You are beautiful” he replied. She shook her head. “No one wanted me”
“I wanted you; did you not see me looking at you?”
“You have a scar on your face, I did not want to stare at you. It is not a ritual scar were you wounded?”
“I don’t remember, perhaps it happened when I was stolen.”
“May I touch it?” Ahu reached over and touched Ahuahu’s face. She had never touched a man’s face before. It was strong and firm like a tree. “Thank you for being my husband…and for saying I am beautiful…”
“Your eyes tell me much about you. You lower them and that makes you doubly beautiful. I like the way you skin shines. I would like to touch you too.”
Ahu released her tapa cloth wrap and knelt before him naked. He touched her face and chin, ran his hand down her neck and traced his fingers over her breasts. “I am very lucky to have you” he said.
“We are lucky to have each other” she replied.
Ahu remembered her wedding night as she looked out to sea. How could she stop him from doing dangerous things like fishing on the island of the gannets? Her eyes strained to see any movement on the ocean that might mean they were returning. Even if they were, the boat would be hidden in the waves and the spume and not visible from shore. She waited a while longer and busied herself picking live cockles up from the beach where they had been thrown by the angry sea.
She walked back to a tussock on the beach and sat down. She knew now she was pregnant. It was inevitable. Once they had made love the first time they had gone from awkward fumbling to considerate partners pleasing each other for the sheer joy of making the other happy. She loved it that once they were satisfied he would hold on to her, her hand or calf but more often than not her breast and fall asleep still touching her. In the mornings Ahuahu would say “Get up and walk around the village and greet and talk to people. They will think that you are fed up with me already, like they are with their own husbands.” Ahu did this but fooled no one because now she was always happy and would be smiling all day long.
Ahu sat looking out to sea, the wind had abated and she had prized open a few of the shellfish, washed the sand out and ate them while she waited. After the sun had reached its peak she spotted a craft out to sea. Her face shone, he was coming home.
Ahuahu and Hi’ilei finally beached the craft and dragged it up the strand. Hi’ilei looked across to Ahu and sneered “What manner of man have you got for yourself Ahu? We would have been back hours ago but for him being a kiwi hiding in the bushes.”
“Better you are back with him alive than bringing bad news for your wife” she retorted.
Ahuahu shook his head with disbelief that she would be so bold. But looking at Ahu he saw the love in her eyes said “Excuse her Hi’ilei, she is with child.”
"He knows me well" thought Ahu.