I wandered through rocky hills, past outcrops of bedrock worn smooth by wind and made brittle by wildfires. The wind suddenly collected a pile of dead brown leaves at my feet. As I watched the swirling, I realized the wind had collected more than tinder.
I reached into the pile and pulled out something both small and large, both heavy and light. It attempted to form itself into whatever I was thinking of at the moment.
But I knew it wasn’t mine to keep, much less alter.
The longer I held it, the greater I sensed its true owner was nearby. Probably watching me. I looked around and saw that the hills had become flatland and the outcrops had become dirt compacted by drought and heat.
The object suddenly snapped into a form I had not chosen. I recognized it at once and prepared for the arrival of its owner.
Before I could even look up, she was there. I knelt in respect and held out her symbol. She took it with her right hand extending from a colorless robe. With her left, she made a gesture in the air over my head.
My eyes closed and my head bowed. Suddenly afraid, I forced my head to lift. As I tried to force my eyes open, she placed her left hand on my forehead.
I could not tell if I dissolved or if the world dissolved around me.
La Llorona sat beside me as I remained motionless on the raised hard surface under me. Her crown of roses sometimes looked white and sometimes looked red, but the thorns were always scraping against her skull. Her white hooded robe looked as thin as wishes as she hummed a charming song barely enough for me to hear.
Her left hand remained on my forehead, keeping my eyes closed and my body prone. After more humming, she stopped and turned her skeletal visage towards my unresponsive face.
She spoke without moving her jaw. She spoke and I wanted to scream from the loudness of it. She spoke and if I wasn’t so still, I would not have heard her for the softness of it. She spoke and my blood stopped in fear as my heart sped to bursting. She spoke, and I could not answer.
She lifted her left hand from my forehead. My eyes opened as my jaw relaxed. But for all I wanted to do and say, I could only answer her question.
“Usted es [static] la Blanca.”
It was important that I answered in Spanish. Important that my thoughts of her were in Spanish. Even if I had to reach for words I did not know, no English words will even properly describe her even if it is an exact translation. No matter how often she chooses to speak English, she is not for the English-speaking, and I must recognize that.
By the time I realized what I had said and how I had said it, she had laid her hand back on my forehead. My eyes closed and my mouth sealed at her touch.
I had not realized my sight had become limited when my eyes had opened until my awareness of the entire scene returned when my eyes were closed. I was laying on a large stone block that was the capstone of a massive grave. I could feel things scraping and rubbing against the underside of the stone. I wondered if I was laying on my grave.
La Llorona resumed her subtle humming and my body chilled to the same cold temperature as the gravestone. I could not complain as the sensation was a respite against the sudden heat of summer.
I was walking… somewhere…
I don’t remember how I got here…
I was home… in bed…
See… I’m still in my pajamas. Still barefeet. Still walking with my eyes closed…
A hand touches my face, so briefly I question if the touch actually happened.
I was falling…
Hands catch me and lay me down.
Lay me out…
Lay me out on the cold, hard ground that softens under my weight…
That softens under my warmth…
Hands and fingers, far too thin for flesh, far too animated for bone, hold me down…
Hold my shoulders…
Hold my feet…
Hold my hands…
Hold my head…
But only the lightest of touches cover my face.
I was somewhere…
But now I am here…
And here I remain.
I feel something thin and cold at my throat. It is followed by copper-scented warmth.
It’s Game Night! (It’s always Game Night.) Time to run around and play!
So many old friends to play old games with. So many new friends to learn new games from.
Lift the glass and toast! Drink! Pass the plates and serve! Eat!
Fall against warm clothes and soft flesh. Remember how good it feels to breathe, to move, to live.
The song changes. Wait, I know this one.
Let the play go on without me. For now I must pause. This song is not my song to sing. This game is not my game to lead. The master of the house must be respected under his roof. Bow the head as he passes over us all.
He looks at me and my blood sings as my heart stops. He looks at me and the song crawls between the cartilage of my joints and around the sinews holding my flesh. He looks at me and my body jerks as the impulse to rise grapples with the determination to remain seated.
(He always wins no matter how great a game you play.)
I wanted to be silent and show respect. My head falls back as the scream gurgles open my throat.
I wanted to be still and yield to my better. My body falls into an obscene rhythm that molests all who look upon it.
I wanted to be humble, to not be the brightness piercing the darkness. Something like lightning crawled out from the depths of my body to jump from my maddened eyes into my greedy mouth and from every pore of my skin into the shade-thick darkness that surrounded me.
This was not a descent into a prepared vessel. Not the bothering of the ridden. This was not the possession of the sacrifice.
This was a ravishing.
It felt like an immolation but I wasn’t on fire. It felt like a whole body orgasm but I wasn’t touched. It felt like dissolution but I was still intact.
I always forget what it is like to be seized until it happens again. Perhaps because to remember it leads to madness. I have forgotten how I know that.
When the screams became voluntary, he released me. I fell, surprised to make contact with a ground that I was surprised was there to bruise me. There were no hands to catch me this time and I wondered why I would expect such to happen.
As he withdrew from the fields of play, as he passed by the multitudes huddling in their pissed pools of fear, he did not chuckle. And I realized, this was no mere snatch of whimsy.
His indifference to my broken state explained to me that this was a lesson for those who could see it. For those who were not soaking in their liquid rebuttals of a very visceral reality. He had made an example out of me, but I was not the student for this lesson.
I was merely the tool for his demonstration.
As exhaustion overwhelmed me and dissolved me from this field of play, I noticed my forehead was no longer cool.
He had won this hand.