La Llorona (the crying woman)
By Greg Solano
Shiela was a beautiful young girl. She was only a few months past her eleventh birthday. As she walked along the arroyo (ditch) she picked dandelions going along the bank and tossed them into the water that filled the ditch from the last rain. The arroyo ran through the back yard of the 20 acres her grandfather passed down to her mother after her wedding in 1963. The sun was settling behind hills surrounding her home and the reflections of the last rays of light created shadows along the still water.
Shiela reached down to pick up another dandelion and as she did a translucent figure burst from the water. Terror filled Sheila’s face and before she could even scream a woman’s hand with blackened and cracked fingernails grabbed her arm and pulled her into the water. Just as quickly as the water opened up, it grew calm again. A dandelion floated on its surface, like a flower left at a grave site.
Officer Wolf drove up the small adobe house in his ford bronco. The old brown 1985 Bronco had seen better days but its ability to handle the rugged terrain that was his beat made this the perfect cop car for Officer Wolf. As he got down from the Bronco the teary eyed lady ran up to him. “Something’s wrong, she’s never done this, she never leaves the yard!” the lady exclaimed. “Whoa, whoa, slow down, what’s going on?” The lady fought back the tears and told the story of how her eleven year old daughter was playing in the yard. When it was time for dinner she went out to call her inside and she would not answer. She searched the whole yard and could not find her.
The area is pretty desolate and there are no neighbors within a mile so the chance she is at a neighbor’s house is nil. After getting the basic information the Officer began walking around the large 20 acre property. Officer Wolf learned tracking as a necessity for his favorite passion, hunting. He located fresh small foot prints and followed them along the property and up to the arroyo. The ground was still moist from the recent rains and the footprints were easy to find. He followed them right up to the arroyo where they seemed to just end. The most telling was that there were no prints headed back towards the house either. The water was not deep and an eleven year old child should be visible if somehow she fell in and drown.
It was getting dark so Officer Wolf instinctively walked downstream although the water was hardly moving at all. Removing his flashlight from his belt he continued walking. The wind was whistling through the trees and it made a sound that sounded like a young woman crying. It reminded Officer Wolf of the childhood story of La Llorona. The son of a Native American who married his Hispanic father he grew up fearing the lady who cried for her children along the rivers and arroyos in Northern New Mexico. The legend told by his father said that the lady had two children a boy and a girl. The lady loved her husband and children and devoted her whole life to them. One day she learned that her husband was having an affair with a single lady in town. She felt that she had lost much of her beauty after having her two children and blamed them for her husband’s affair. She took the two children and threw them in the river killing them both. When she realized what she had done she took her own life. Legend has it that she arrived in heaven and god asked her where her children were. God then sent her back to earth to spend an eternity looking for her children. She now roamed the earth looking for her two children and crying eternally. Legend also had it that she would take children who were alone near rivers or ditches in order to try and pass them off as her own and try and get access to heaven.
Officer Wolf remembered his father telling him that if he was not good or if he took off alone he could be snatched by the crying ghost. It was eerie how much the wind sounded like crying. The hairs on the back of the officer’s neck and arms stood on end. “I’m just freaking myself out” the officer thought to himself. He continued down the arroyo when a whitish transparent figure seemed to move across the water just up ahead. He moved his flashlight towards the area and it went dead. As quietly as he could he shook it trying to get it back on. He turned the switch on and then off again but nothing. He had taken his eyes off the water to look at his flashlight. He slowly looked back up towards the water sure that his mind was playing tricks and there would be nothing there.
She was still there, he could now make out that it was a lady, middle aged, with long white flowing dress or nightgown. While she appeared to be all white and floating above the water, her eyes looked red. Tears of blood seemed to drip from her eyes and now what earlier sounded like crying from the trees was definitely coming from her. He placed his hand on his gun while at the same time realizing it would not help him here. In his mind he prayed while his mouth spoke the words “where is the girl?” Where is Shiela?” The figure did not respond it just floated there for what seemed like forever but in reality was only about ten seconds. Then it slowly faded away, the crying also slowly faded away.
Officer Wolf still could not move, He was more afraid then he had ever been in his life. The earth was quiet, the only sound was the officer’s heart pounding and chest heaving and struggling for breath. Then the water splashed as though the earth opened up and spit something out. A young child’s body shot up from the water and then floated on the surface. Officer Wolf walked over and pulled the young girl up to him. The child’s skin was bluish white and cold to the touch. He knew she was dead. He picked her up and began walking back to the house. His mind raced as he thought about what to say. He would only say he found her in the water. No one would ever believe otherwise.