The sun wasn’t even up yet, and it was already hot. Maybe it was because Tawhiri’s skin missed the waves so much.
Pain shot through his thumb as his hammer came down on it instead of the coconut he was cracking.
“Eiiioooo.” He shook his hand and stuck the throbbing thumb into his mouth.
“You are distracted.” Ooma shook a tattoo mallet at him.
“That is because you won’t stop talking.”
“You aren’t listening to a thing I said. Who is coming for their tattoo this morning? Huh?”
Tawhiri twisted the coconut and dealt it solid crack on it’s side, releasing a gush of its milk onto the ground. “Is Kai’ali apprenticing with you again today?”
“See, you weren’t listening.”
Tawhiri dug out a chunk of coconut flesh and pushed it between his teeth. “You talk so much and so fast, Old Woman. How am I supposed to keep up with it all.”
“I would not be so old if I didn’t have to deal with all your trouble making. You wear me thin.” Ooma gathered her tools into a mat and rolled it up. “I am tattooing Kai’ali with her marriage tattoo today. She and Ihaka, I’m sure you heard.” Her words took on a bit of a softness as she said it.
Tawhiri slowed his chewing. So fast? She really must have been upset last night. Upset enough to move into Ihaka’s hut right away. But why should he be surprised, she had no reason to wait.
“Oh.” He shook the left over sand from his lap lap and stood. There would be some feasting tonight, for sure. Maybe he would find somewhere else to be. They wouldn’t miss a child anyway.
“You have a sour face. I thought you knew.”
“She told me that he asked.” Tawhiri held out half of the coconut for Ooma. “It’s a good match.”
“Hmmm.” Ooma raised an eyebrow. “I suppose. I can think of better.”
If she brought it up, he might sleep on the beach tonight. She didn’t know when to stop pushing. Maybe it was mother’s love. It could be that she was angry that she couldn’t walk her own child through all the traditions of passage. But if she wanted a normal child, she should have pushed him back into the ocean and gotten married.
“Where are you off too?” Ooma asked as Tawhiri headed toward the jungle.
“I’m gathering wood.”
“You have enough for two huts right here.”
“Since when have you started building huts.” Tawhiri ducked under a young palm, shoving aside the branches. He let the ax slide around in his hand as he pushed deeper, ignoring the well-trodden paths.
“Will you be back tonight?” Ooma called from the edge of the undergrowth.
“Maybe.” Probably not.