All Saints Day
The year of Our Lord, 1923
With dancing and merriment, it was much too hot and lovely a night to have the doors and windows closed. Claudio Rodríguez circled his partner around the floor to the front door. He was always a nimble dancer. As he moved in tune to the ranchero music, he flung open the door to let the breeze in, all without missing a beat.
There on the steps wobbled La Llorona. Her steps were leaden as though the witch rose from the dead, which indeed she had. She was dressed in a raggedy wedding gown. Her wedding veil started at the tip of her head, wrapped around her face, and crept down to bare feet that spent at least one century in the Rio Grande.
Claudio may have been the first to see her, but everyone at the birthday party heard her unearthly wail.
The witch raised her arms, and screamed even louder.
Claudio’s dance partner, a neighbor woman, fainted.
His brother, Ramon, dropped his violin, the wooded instrument splitting in two halves.
Everyone stepped back, covering their noses with their arms.
The witch nodded her head at the fear twisting their faces, as if to say, ah, these people know of her heartbreak. It had been over 200 years since her fiancé stood La Llorona up at the altar. She cursed, untangling thorns of tumbleweeds from her wedding veil.
She appeared rejected, standing there uninvited to the party, and blanketed by dusty cobwebs of her wedding veil. With the frustration of 200 years of searching and never finding her children, she shrieked, beating her breast with her fists. Her cries were so strong the windows burst from their frames. Glass flew about the partygoers. One piece even stabbed Claudio in the cheek.
La Llorona looked at Claudio as if she was sorry. She reached out an earthen claw. Stuck between her fingers was a black rose. Yet, there was something else besides pity for Claudio in the witch’s eyes. Malice shone from her orbs because even though Claudio was a bachelor, he had eighteen children, while she had none.
La Llorona grinned at a shiny clean child with braided hair and crystal tears, clothed in a new ruffled dress, the birthday girl. She opened her arms to the chubby, black-haired girl. The witch cackled, “My daughter.”
“Don’t look at her, Marcelina,” Claudio yelled.
“Marcelina,” she cooed, “My sweet child.”
The girl turned her head into her mother’s shoulder, and the woman tightened her hold around the child’s neck. “She knows your name,” the mother sobbed into her braids. “She knows your name.”
“Don’t look at her,” Claudio yelled again.
The witch pierced Claudio with her eyes and he stepped back, clutching his chest because a visit from La Llorona meant death would visit the household. He opened the door, unknowingly, inviting death.
However, death did not come in. She merely stood at the doorway crying, with her arms reaching out to Marcelina. Pain rose from her throat, shaking the adobe walls and chilling the blood of all the family and friends.
Just as suddenly, she quit crying and her body swayed in a trance. She sang with a siren’s voice:
“Marcelina. Marcelina, come to me.
My Darling child, sit on my knee
Precious sweetheart, I hold the key.
Charming pretty girl, you will see.
Delicious child, I shall set you free.
Marcelina. Marcelina, Come to me.”
She was so seductive that Marcelina pounded her fists against Mama’s chest, struggling to be free. She ran her fingernails down Mama’s cheek, scratching her, but both Mama and Papa held onto her tightly.
If Marcelina would not come to the witch, then she would have to get her. She lifted a muddy foot but try as she might, she could not step across the sheepskin pelt placed at the entrance to keep the cold air out. She jumped up and down, trying to skip across, but an invisible force held her back from entering the home.
She squeezed her arms to the sides of her body and spat on the pelt. She ripped a black rose from her hair, flinging it.
The black rose landed in the middle of the floor with its petals still intact.
Everyone in the house took a step back.
The widow, childless mother, jilted bride, and orphaned daughter turned and walked away with the thorn of that other black rose still stuck to her hand. She sobbed, dragging the train of her wedding veil behind her. Her veil had dragged the river yet still, La Llorona looked for her children beneath the murky waters of the Rio Grande. She looked for any sign her children survived, any bubble of air to give her hope and rescue her soul.
The house was silent, all eyes on the black velvety rose on the floor, untouched by the chilly fall season. The thorns of the rose protruded from its long green stem, like razors. Sprinkles of brown water muddied the petals of the rose, polluting its dark beauty.
Finally, Lupe Rodríguez, the mother who held the birthday girl so tightly in her arms, handed her child to Ramon, her husband. She swept up the black rose, tossing it into the black night.
Lupe then very carefully lifted up the pelt, exposing two sewing needles crossed in the shape of a crucifix. She knelt, making the sign of the cross to this symbol that kept the witch out.
Behind Lupe, all dropped to their knees.
Clicking of rosary beads replaced the silence of the house.
“Ava. Ava, Maria,” they all sang, muttering the rosary beneath their breath.
The guests prayed their novenas then trailed from the house, swinging their lanterns in one hand and their rosary beads with the other hand.
Lupe once more covered the cross of sewing needles with the pelt, protecting the entrance to the home.
Throughout the long night, Lupe and Ramon kept watch over Marcelina. La Llorona had a reputation of stealing children from their beds.
The next morning the sun rose East over the mountains. Marcelina skipped from her bedroom to eat her breakfast, her braids bouncing against her back and her butt cheek wobbling through a hole in her nightgown. She wrinkled her nose with disgust. It smells as if we are having fish for breakfast, she thought. Spoiled fish.
She stopped abruptly at the entrance to the kitchen. In place of her usual wooden bowl of sweetened cornmeal, there on the kitchen table, lay her Uncle Claudio, spread-eagle. Her uncle’s fingers clenched the air, as though clawing at something. His fingernails were ragged and worn. His bare feet were muddied, his ankles bloodied. His now shriveled big toe resembled the bark of a tree, ashen grey in color.
She reached out a finger to waken him and his leg bounced. It was as if, like a fish, he had been deboned and there was no skeleton holding his muscle in place.
She climbed on a chair, moving her nose closer to his face so that his moustache tickled her nose. She sniffed at the black rose stuffed in his mouth.
This was how her parents found her. Marcelina lay limp, her face buried in the black rose.
She had fainted.
Rise of the Black Rose, Book 3, is now available!The Witch Narratives Reincarnation is a First Place Winner of a 2013 BOOKS INTO MOVIES AWARDS. The book, also, won a an international award for BEST FANTASY and was a BEST FANTASY New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards Finalist. A touching novel about loyalty, friendship, and the depth of love, about the unlikely friendship between a devout Catholic and a reluctant witch.
The Land of Enchantment Trilogy shines with the little-known world of Native American and Hispanic magic, which gives this series a compelling twist, and a refreshing breath of originality.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but humanity will never break me," -- so claims the witch, Salia, but she was born with a soft, all too human heart that even being an outcast won't harden. She is a sister, granddaughter and daughter of witches. And she is a half-breed. But the last thing Salia ever wanted was to be a witch.
There is a portrait in the house at the bottom of Witch Hill. Salia looks out of the picture with haunted eyes. She is pale because her mother pinches her arm, but it is Salia's Native-American grandmother who dominates the picture. She is 110 years old but appears to be a teenager, holding out in her hand an ordinary-looking rock, a rare shape-shifting stone, allowing her to bathe like in the fountain of youth. All lust after the magical rock for different reasons – to be beautiful or thin, powerful, or to live forever. Salia just wants the rock to become someone else. She longs to be ordinary like her only friend, Marcelina.
A FEW INTERESTING FACTS - Did you know that?
>>>About 80% of the magic in The Land of Enchantment series is practiced by Southwest witches.
>>>Witches in the Southwest flash into fireballs and soar across the sky, as recorded by witnesses in witch trials.
>>>La Llorona is a legendary witch called "the weeping ghost", who is known throughout the Americas by tens of millions. She has been seen by many as she haunts the rivers, lakes and drainage ditches.
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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