Chapter 8: San Florian

distant shores (10)Everything in San Florian was wrong. The language felt thick and strange on Puaura’s tongue. The air smelled, not of salt and sand, but of spices and people and dank buildings made of clay and stone.

With the little money they had been able to exchange for local currency, she and Ahio had rented a house the size of her old houseboat. It was in a terrible state of neglect, with grimy walls and leaky taps, but they did their best to make it livable.

distant shores (1)The house was a disaster.distant shores (19)

Ahio, who had an easier time absorbing the language of San Florian, quickly found work as a cook in a local restaurant. It paid very little, but Ahio didn’t seem to mind. He spent his first two paychecks on a Vespa, after explaining that he needed a reliable way to commute across town to work.

distant shores (3)distant shores (4)distant shores (14)

“But we barely have enough money left over for groceries!” said Puaura in dismay. “What will we do? We have to eat!”

Ahio frowned. “Look, I am doing the best I can, okay? What – do you want me to find a second job as a lifeguard at some swimming pool? That’s the only job I ever had back on the island.”

distant shores (16)distant shores (15)

Puaura’s shoulders drooped. “Of course not. I just want to be able to buy the things we need.” She began to work harder than ever at learning the new language, so that she, too, could find work. At last, she was hired to harvest produce at a local farm. When that season ended, she found work as a barista at a local coffee shop by day, and as a bartender by night.   distant shores (11)

By the time she made it home after her night shift, it seemed as though she barely had time to close her eyes for a brief second before her alarm clock woke her up again to do it all over again.

distant shores (13) distant shores (6)

“This is no way to live,” she told Ahio one day, rubbing her tired, puffy eyes. “I am working all the time, and still we don’t make enough money to pay our bills.”

“You’re right.” Ahio sighed, looking at the growing pile of late bills on the kitchen table. They needed t find a way to earn more money. But how?

Three days later, Ahio came home from work, his eyes shining. “I was accepted!” he cried, waving a paper in the air. “I applied and passed the test, and I was accepted!”

“Accepted to what?” asked Puaura.

Ahio’s grin widened. “I am going back into the lifesaving business,” he said. “I’m going to become a firefighter.” Adieu Island (79)


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