The infamous tale of La Llorona (translates as “The Wailing Woman”) is a classic of Chicana feminism. The tales date back to 16th century Mexico where, some believe, several Indian women murdered their children by drowning them and then committed suicide rather than allow the children’s Spanish fathers to take the children away to Spain.
The legend was kept alive by oral tradition, explaining the many versions. In each variation lies the basic Medea story of a woman ridding herself of her own children by drowning them in a body of water, usually a river, and then becoming a phantom who snatches the unwary (usually children) walking beside a body of water.
I’ve been told that all Chicana writers eventually tell a La Llorona story. So I guess this one is mine. I wrote it some years ago for soc.sexuality.spanking short story contest.
La Llorona – The Wailing Woman
“Es muy peligroso Tito!”
“La Llorona drowned her own children! She’ll snatch you away!”
“No soy un ninito! Ustedes can’t scare me!”
Saying that, Tito ran to his room, slamming the door.
Tito frowned whenever La Llorona was mentioned. When he was younger and still afraid of the dark, stories of the crying woman dressed in flowing white frightened him to nightmares. Now twelve, Tito no longer believed the child-snatching tales. Still, his heart pounded whenever he walked by the river near dusk.
“It’s just a story,” Tito thought. “Lita y Mamacita just want me home early.”
So the brave boy stayed out later each evening, watching the shadows get longer and deeper, before running home along the riverside, arriving home to the hacienda breathless and late for dinner.
The night after his scolding, Tito stayed out later still and, defying his own fears, did not run, but strolled slowly home beside the river.
“It’s not so late,” he told himself. “See, the moon has barely risen. And the señora is still gathering the day’s washing.”
For not fifty meters ahead stood a woman folding her white linens. She was beautiful, but her face appeared distorted, pain twisting her lovely features as she cried with the keening helplessness of a lost child. Tito’s heart and soul longed to comfort her but he was frozen, rooted in place.
He stood completely still, as did the crying señora. But fifty meters were suddenly fifteen, then five.
Terror passed through Tito as he saw the truth. This was La Llorona. Worse, her grimace was fury, not pain. La Llorona’s right hand wielded a whip of yucca fibers while her left remained hidden beneath her robes. And her mouth, despite the still louder wailing, was closed tight. The sobbing emanated from within her.
Tito screamed as La Llorona’s robes flowed out and enveloped him. Within the white he saw a pale girl clothed in white rags, dark circles and salt trails beneath her black eyes. La Llorona’s left hand held the girl’s shoulder in an iron grip. The girl wore nothing below her waist, displaying her bottom, white as alabaster except for a criss-crossed maze of blood-red weals.
Tito’s cries matched the girl’s as his clothes bled white. La Llorona’s hold on the girl loosened, then suddenly her bone white hand tightened on his shoulder. At her touch, all garments below his waist vanished and he felt the night air on his privates. Then La Llorona grasped Tito’s shoulder tightly and raised her whip.
Despite her dark circles and salt trails, the girl’s expression transformed into a smile at his first cry of pain. Above the sound of the whip Tito heard her say:
“Mejor tu que mí.”
With that, a red haze dimmed Tito’s mind to everything but the searing pain in his bottom as the girl became translucent and whiter still, her form finally merging with La Llorona’s robes.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/karmacamilleeon/