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Part 5.

The doorbell rings at noon, but it’s Saturday and Mirasol knows that Lloyd is visiting. Even if she hadn’t, the dream is only waiting at the edge of her vision. Haik is wearing a t-shirt today, so Lloyd doesn’t spot his tattoos as quickly as Mirasol and Rahil did.

“Hey, man! Who is this?”

“Haik,” he says. “Your cousin found me gravely injured a couple weeks ago, and so she nursed me back to health.”

“I took him to the hospital first,” Mirasol assures, and hands Lloyd a glass of water.

He chuckles. “Are you British?”

“Australian.” Haik shakes Lloyd’s hand with his non-scaled arm, but Lloyd still catches his ink on the other arm and needs a minute to let go.

“Bro. What is all that?”

“I’m not Samoan,” he laughs. “I’m Filipino.”

“Motherfucker, you’re indio as hell!” Lloyd high-fives him. “How did you get here?”

“I was boating in the Golden Gate Park, and then I fell off and my head hurt--the sail’s boom must have hit me,” Haik says, to Lloyd’s wince of sympathy. “The hit itself wasn’t bad, but my boat took off pretty fast. Then there’s some missing scenes, and then I woke up on the beach.”

It’s a good thing he’s been living with her for the past two weeks, because all Mirasol has to do is wince and shake her head.

“Fuck, man, where were you going?” Lloyd wonders.

“I wasn’t going anywhere,” Haik sighs. “Nice day, went to the beach, that’s it.”

“Is anyone looking for you?”

“Not… in… America,” Haik admits.

“Right, Australian.” But Lloyd sees the look on Mirasol’s face. “Oh shit, is your family in the Philippines? Where are they from?”

“From Manila, where else?” Haik attempts, but Lloyd already suspects something and taps Mirasol’s shoulder to bring her into the bedroom.

“What did he tell you before?” He whispers. “Y’all be looking at him like he had two heads.”

“Fine.” Haik yanks the door open. “Fine. I’m undocumented. That’s it.”

“Thank god, bro! I thought you were a serial-killer.” And Lloyd heads right back out.

They keep the food to snacks since lunchtime already passed. Haik tells the story about his paraw--made from ipil wood with bamboo outriggers, heavy and dark but streaked with golden shimmers.

“My parents made it when I was a kid, so all they had to do was find someone to chop the tree and get it processed at a sawmill,” Haik laughs. “Trying to make another boat out of ipil would cost too much today.”

“Yeah, ipil is super expensive now. Rich people use it for fancy shit.” But Lloyd catches Mirasol leaning into Haik’s shoulder.

She chuckles and moves a couple inches away, but it’s too late and Lloyd brings her into the bedroom again.

“Mirasol, don’t,” he pleads. “Please don’t get involved with him. If ICE finds out, they just gonna dump him back in the islands--”

“Yeah, it’s kind of late for that.” Her eyes start to burn. “But thanks.”

“Late for what?”

“Both.” She coughs. “After I took him to the hospital, ICE came the next week. The hospital couldn’t find any records.”

“Fuck.” He hugs her, for a long time. “Don’t let the white girl talk to him too much, ay? What’s her name, Katie?”


Her dream gives a warning nudge, but it tries to be gentle. She cries anyway.

“And don’t tell Tita.” He sighs. “You her daughter, she loves you, but that’s the problem. If she sees you with an indio guy, she gonna lose her shit, and if she finds out he ain’t documented--”

“I know.” She didn’t expect the life-patterns to show up again like this, but she’s not surprised.

Haik comes inside and sits on her bed, leaning against the wall. She wonders if Lloyd smells the seawater, for in this life he is the rare creature of a Catholic who actually acts like it, without judging or thinly-veiled pity.

“Do we need to make up a cover story?” Haik asks.

Lloyd goes back home instead of staying the night, and they’re grateful because the dream is pressing in on them. That night, Haik curls up in her bed like it’s an island in open water.

In the morning, the dream creeps in, sorrowful, but Mirasol watches her phone for Lloyd’s phone call, and nothing happens for a good three hours. Haik starts to dress up again, putting on his shoes but removing his shirt.

“Let’s go to the beach,” he says.

The weather is calm when she parks the car, but as Haik comes out and takes off his shoes, with his endless shades of black and brown, she feels the sand rattle at his touch.

He steps into the Pacific, like a tired old man at the end of a hard day. “I am Haik,” he says. “I am the son of voyagers, the crocodile-god, who breaks the ships in his teeth.”

The ocean waits. He knows why, but he shakes his head.

“Don’t bother,” he tells it, miserable. “They will not come to me.”

She comes up next to him and wraps an arm around his waist. “The whale-rider,” she whispers.

This is not in the dream: The whales don’t come when she calls. They want to, for they are his brothers, and she feels them waiting in the deep--but Haik must use his own name again.

Instead the tide surges up to their knees, and crab-claw sails like clouds appear on the horizon. Haik’s runaway paraw returns, earthy dark-ochre ipil set off with lighter gold shimmers and the pale bamboo outriggers on each side. She touches down like a bird in the sand.

He finally smiles again, jumps up onto one of the bamboo outriggers, and gives the crocodile’s head on the prow a hug. To her surprise, he plunges back down with her.

“Come on!” He reaches out and laughs when she lets go--the wood is too slippery. “It’s okay, you won’t fall!”

The boat tilts when she puts her weight on the rail. “Oh, shit. No!” She’s firmly back on the sand, and he tosses a rope so she can climb in.

He reverses the sail with a hard swing of the boom, reels back down on one of the ropes. How fast is he, how mobile and light like the air, now that he’s happy? And he pushes the boat into the tide by himself.

They spend the whole day getting soaked by sea-spray, tossed by the wind like a roller coaster with no tracks.

When the wind begins to tear at her clothes and braid, she has to sit for a while to get rid of the chill. Haik crouches with her and grins.

“What?” She smiles back at him.

“If the wind is right,” he says to her, “and the boat isn’t too heavy--we can make her fly.”

“What the fuck? You playing with me?!”

He laughs and heaves at one of the mast’s ropes, so that the sail unfurls and fills. Then he jumps onto one of the outriggers, dark like a statue against the boat’s white sails.

“Oh, the wind in the south is my cousin,” he sings, “and our grandfather sleeps in the tide!”

She can’t hear the next part: She’s reminding herself to breathe, caught in the nameless joy that she feels whenever she hears his stories.

“Aue!” He calls. “Aue!”

Haik slams back for balance on the outrigger as the boat lunges forward like a horse, and the sail is so taut and straining that for a white-blank moment she thinks the mast’s going to break--but no, they lift up and skim over the water.

And the wind howls along with their joy.

Haik doesn’t tie the canoe to the pier when Mirasol gets too tired to keep going; he gives the crocodile’s head on the prow a pat and then presses his forehead to her painted yellow eye.

“Ingat, ay?” He says to her, voice crackling from exhaustion, but at least he’s happy.

The paraw gives a shudder--or is that a stray wave?--and cuts off alone to the far side of the bay. Mirasol can’t see whether she turns behind the rocks or vanishes into the horizon, but wherever she’s gone, Haik waves and leaves, so she must be coming back.

Mirasol’s car is welcome and solid in the twilight, and chugs along home with the smell of salt spilling out of the windows.

She drops into bed like a rock, and the crocodile-god’s chest rumbles with a laugh against her elbow. They’re too tired to do much else, and they almost forget that her dream is still waiting.

But they wake up later in the dark, with the sea-salt crumbling away from their skin. Haik curls up around her like a dragon with his treasure, too tense to respond when she pecks his temple.

“You’ll be fine,” she says, and Haik shakes his head.

“Of course I will, I’m a god,” he reminds her. “It’s you.”

Rahil comes over too early in the morning, without even a hijab for her tangles, so Mirasol hands her a scarf before she lets Haik come out of the room. “Rahil? What’s wrong?”

“I saw you.” Rahil slings the scarf around her head, pacing. “I had a dream last night and--and you were yelling at Claire--she’s gonna snitch on you!”

“Big surprise.” Of course it’s not, but it still hurts. “Rahil, you’re the third person who warned me about her.”

“I saw you find him, how he came out of the sand! I saw your face!” And she cries and turns to Haik. “Masha Allah! Take her with you!”

“I can’t!” Haik snaps. “We’re not eloping because her mum doesn’t like me--I’m undocumented! If she goes with me whenever ICE catches up, they won’t let her come back!”

“I’m American,” Mirasol says, but she knows it’s just a courtesy title. Nobody ever thinks she was born here--at least, nobody who matters.

“You’re American until you start acting like it,” Haik reminds her, laughing. “You’re supposed to work hard, be nice, and ask a white person to help me. Them, they’re standing up against injustice, but you? You’re helping a criminal.”

“Don’t say that!” Rahil begs him. “You didn’t hurt anyone!”

What is this? She feels the dream bearing down on her and Haik, but she’s confused because everything’s happening backwards--

“I will stay with her as long as I can,” Haik tells them bitterly. “And when they come for me, I will make sure they don’t hurt anyone.”

That is all.

Rahil leaves for home and Haik goes straight back into Mirasol’s room, where the curtains are closed and the earth-toned bed still unmade.

She goes on autopilot for her own work, finishes half as fast as usual, and checks on him at lunch. “Haik, do you want anything?”

“No.” He buries himself in the quilt.

Dinner comes and goes. She eats lightly, leaves the dishes in the sink, and sits down by the pillow. “Are you okay?”

“What do you think?” But he’s too tired for it to bite, and he latches onto her waist like he’s almost drowned again. He definitely smells like it, since the sea-salt overwhelms her.

“Can Filipino gods die?” She wonders. “If they’re not worshiped?”

“I’m not dying,” he tells her wearily. “It just hurts.”

“What hurts?”

“We are the only ones left.”

“Rahil and Imelda both saw you,” she says.

“No, they saw you.” He hobbles into a sitting position and she tries to keep him up, but the laws of physics win and she’s flattened to the wall. “They saw you find a good man who bad things happened to. They saw you take me in and help me.”

“Is it bad to see those kinds of things?”

“No, but it’s not the same as seeing a god.” He laughs, saltwater coming down his face. “We are the only ones left.”

“There’s lots of Filipinos here,” she tells him. “And we want to get back to our roots. We get tattoos, we find the myths, we try to find out what parts of our culture aren’t Catholic. A lot of islander Filipinos don’t like it.”

“Because you’re in the West, and you shouldn’t want to be like the tribes. Ay?” He’s still hurting, but he tries to smile.

Haik wraps up in her quilt and his arms cocoon around her.

The indigo-framed sunrise is something like the sea, and she peeks out of the window: There are no storm-clouds, at least not yet.

Presently Haik jolts upright and listens to the sound of the birds. His crocodile scales wind around her neck, but not for intimacy--for protection.

“They have a search warrant now,” Haik tells her. “We’ll have to go to someone else’s house.”

Lloyd calls her phone, and she shuts her eyes hard against Haik’s shoulder.

She’ll have to answer it soon.

Next Chapter: Part 6.