Wednesday, January 6, 2010

La Llorona

This story is commonly told in Spanish-speaking communities, with many variants.

Juan made it into the pueblo shortly after nightfall. He began to look for a taberna, as he wanted to relax after his journey. He soon found one, and went inside.

Inside, Juan bought a mug of cerveza and sat down. Outside, he and other patrons heard a low wail outside. It almost sounded like someone crying.

"It's the wail of La Llorona," said an old man not too far from Juan.

"Who is La Llorona?"

"It's not a happy tale," said the old man. "She was a viuda (widow) who had two hijos (children). In time, she met a rich ranchero, who fell in love with her, but he could not marry her. He wanted their own children to be his heirs, but with her children in the way, they would be first in line.

"The woman thought about this until she went mad. Finally, she drowned her children in the river and ran to tell her lover what she had done. He was horrorizado (terrfied) of what she had done. He went to inform the authorities. The woman ran back to the river."

The old man took another drink.

"And what happened then?" asked Juan.

"I'm not too sure. Some say that the river had washed the bodies away, and she thought maybe they'd crawled out of the water, so she searched for them, until she went mad and finally died. Others say the bodies were still there when she returned, so she went mad and died then.

"All stories say she died, mad with pena (sorrow) for her children and her lost love. And now, they say La Llorona, the crying woman, searches for her children along waterways at night. And they say, that if you have been a sinner, she will come to you, looking as beautiful as she did in life, but when you are too close to escape, her face becomes like a dead corpse, and she will take your soul and leave your body cold and empty."

Juan laughed. "Sounds like a tale to scare the little ones with."

"Perhaps," chuckled the old man.

Juan had another drink and stumbled out of the taberna. As he wandered off to find an inn, he came close to the river. How hard the wind was blowing, whistling in his ears. As he looked down the stream, he saw a woman in a white dress.

"I think she needs help," he thought. He walked down the river to help her. How pretty she seemed.

He tapped her on the shoulder.

"All you all right, mujer (woman)?" he asked.

The woman turned around to face him. As she did, her face faded to a rotting, disgusting face, her eyes and nose having been eaten away by maggots that were still in her face.

"Mi hijo! (My son!)" she cried.

And Juan tried to run, except he realized he was no longer on the ground. As he looked down, he saw his body falling over. He looked up at La Lorona.

She was beautiful again, but she was also crying. Her wailing echoed through the night as they flew into the moon.

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