Tuesday, October 31, 2006

La Gritona, The End

This is my Halloween ghost story. Please go back to Part One if you're just starting it. I'm publishing it here in five (5) parts since it's kind of long.

“Mother!” Lillian called into the middle of midnight.  “Mother!  That's enough!  I have heard enough from you and we are done. I'm not doing anything else for you!”

The cold rushed into the room, making it somehow blacker.  Eulalia’s voice swirled around Lillian like conflicting winds, lifting her hair, her nightgown: “Shut up!  ¡Hija desgraciada!  How dare you, you betrayer!”

“I am not a betrayer, Mother!  I did what was decent and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Lillian felt her veins flushed with fury, a cold anger that felt powerful and good.  She breathed in the icy air, “I will not carry on your petty jealousies and -- and long-standing grudges over stuff that's old and -- and over and -- and I've devoted way too much of my life to you and I'm done!”

"Shut up! Don't you talk to me that way. I am still your mother," Eulalia's voice now came from the mirror at the bottom of the stairs and Lillian saw that it was now uncovered. This time she met her mother's furious glare with her own and said almost thoughtfully, “I don't know why you're not in hell."

Eulalia's eyes widened slightly. "Now you think you're high and mighty. Now you think you can talk to me like that because you've run back to your daddy so he can protect you. You think he can help you? Your father's no good for anything!”

Lillian wanted to protest her mother's words, but she suddenly realized her mother was right: her father was no good for anything.

"He never bullied anyone like you did," Lillian finally mustered.

"He never did shit," Eulalia gloated as she saw that her daughter knew she was right.

Lillian suddenly felt alone and abandoned, as she had so many times in her childhood. Memories flooded her mind of having to weather her mother's rage alone. Where had her dad been? Sometimes he was out, but so many times he was right there in the next room, watching tv or reading the newspaper. Doing nothing. And here she was, suffering solo again. Her father who should have been there, who should have had an opinion, who should have at least tried to temper her mother's tantrums, was absent. As usual.

"You only have one parent," the hard face continued, "and that's me. And you will respect and obey me starting right now."

Lillian heard photo frames being knocked over and it brought her back to the present. Now her anger returned, encompassing both her mother's abuse and her father's failure. Hot tears began to spill down her cheeks.

"No. I have no parents and I only have to respect and obey myself!" She hated to cry like a child, but the unfairness of it all overwhelmed her. "You're right! Dad wasn't any good to me. He should have protected me from you, but he didn't. I had to put up with your yelling and screaming all by myself, but I won't anymore!"

Cold air began to press in on her, as if the room were being squeezed.  Warmed by emotion, Lillian inhaled against the pressure. Maybe she had always been alone and maybe she always would be, but now she could take it. “I don't care what you do anymore, Mother. I am not afraid of you -- ” the pressure increased, “ -- because I have Ygnacio Carrera’s blood in my veins, too!”

The pressure let up for a moment and Lillian could feel her mother’s hesitation at the sound of her own father’s name.  “That’s right,” Lillian declared, “Ygnacio Carrera and you and me.  We’re all the same.”

The air became impossibly cold.  Now Eulalia’s voice multiplied and Lillian was surrounded by a chorus of her mother’s outrage: “You little bitch!"
"¡Desgraciada!"  
"Betrayer!"
"How dare you!"

Lillian lifted her head, inhaled that freezing wind and drowned out her mother's voice with her own scream, “SHUT UP!”  

Eulalia’s words echoed those of Lillian's childhood. 
“You shut up!"
"You never do anything right!"
"¡No piensas!”

“STOP IT!”

“¡Pinche chinga’o!"
"I can’t count on you for anything!"
"Are you stupid?”

“STOP IT!”

“¡Malcriada!"
"Who do you think you are?"
"You betrayer!"

“STOP!” Lillian shrieked, letting loose decades of resentment, rage and disgust.  “YOU ARE DEAD AND WE ARE DONE!”

The pressure in the room took her breath away and she collapsed.

**********************


Lillian opens her mail in the semi-darkness provided by her kitchen stovelight.  Months after her mother’s death, she still receives sympathy cards. They express sorrow for her mother's passing, but Lillian wonders how sincere they are.

The dripping kitchen faucet draws her attention. No matter how tightly she closes it, it never stops. “God damn it! Pinche cosa."”  Her temper flares more often now, rage always simmering just beneath the surface.  With disgust she recalls that she has no one who can help her fix things around the house. Since her realization about her father's place in her life, she views his uselessness with resentment, bright and fresh. Regarding her mother, it’s a Mexican standoff and Lillian lives with a cold anger that’s more satisfying than the thud of dirt hitting the coffin.

In the bathroom mirror, Lillian gazes at the reflection.  There she sees her mother’s hard face, her never-ending fury, her piercing eyes.  Lillian knows she’ll never stop seeing them because they’re her own.

Happy Halloween from Regina!

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