Sunday, May 28, 2017

La Rosa, Vol. 1: Chapter 2

“MJ, can you check under my bed for El Cucuy? I’m scared.” Although the little girl had only known her for a few days, she looked at Mirjana with love and adoration. “Ah, mija! El Cucuy isn’t real. Besides, don’t you know I’m gangster? I’d bust out my switchblade and make El Cucuy regret rolling up in my hood!” The little girl laughed, “You’re funny, MJ!” “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m a riot,” Mirjana teased, “Now buenas noches, amiga. Morning prayers come early!” Structure was an important part of the orphanage’s program, and as a volunteer, it was her responsibility to uphold it.

El Cucuy may have not been hiding under the girl’s bed, but something else was lurking nearby that night. It watched through the orphanage’s windows as Mirjana tucked all twelve girls into bed, one at a time. Her long hair cascaded down her shoulders as she bent down to kiss each child on the forehead. Beams of moonlight cast through the windows and shined against her locks like light reflecting on a black river. The creature yearned to run his long, gnarled fingers through it.

No one has ever seen the face of the El Somberón before, but centuries of legends told of his covet for girls such as Mirjana, catching his eye with her long, flowing hair. His origins are unknown, but new stories accumulate yearly of young women going missing, last seen wandering into the dark forest following a tall, withered man with a large brimmed hate hiding his face, carrying what looks to be a silver guitar on his back.

Unaware of El Somberón’s watchful eye upon her, and unfamiliar with the wives’ tales of his existence, Mirjana sleepily shuffled off to her own room with a heavy heart. She was already three days into her stay at the orphanage, with only four days left before she returned to the States. She had already grown so close to the girls, and she knew saying goodbye would be difficult. Too tired to dig through her toiletry bag for a hair tie, Mirjana climbed into bed and allowed her hair to spill across her pillows. The long day of hard volunteer work had exhausted her, and she quickly fell asleep.

It felt like she had been sleeping for hours when the music stirred her from her sleep. It wafted through the cracked bedroom window like fog. It was beautiful, unlike anything she had ever heard before, and it beckoned her. Not of her own volition, Mirjana climbed out of bed and followed the sound down the long corridor to the back entry of the orphanage.

Entranced, she wandered barefoot into the yard, passing through the children’s poorly maintained playground. Broken swings swayed ever so slightly in the night breeze, and the old wooden teeter-totter creaked as she past by. Had she not been completely intoxicated by the melody that called for her, she would have noticed herself traipsing through the meager garden she had helped the girls tend to the morning before.

The music led Mirjana into the dark, canopied forest beyond the orphanage’s yard until she came to a stream; barely a trickle after the summer’s drought.

Then, before her, a figure stood shrouded in darkness. El Somberón slowly emerged from the shadow of the tree he leaned against, and in the dim light Mirjana could see his inhumanness. His height alone was alarming. His long, gnarled fingers looked like the twisted branches of a tree as they nimbly strummed a silver lute that glittered in the moonlight. His face remained hidden by the large brim of his hat, but she could see a long, matted beard hanging down past the wreath of meadowsweet he wore around his neck.

His frightening appearance broke her trance and Mirjana opened her mouth to scream, but before she could make a sound, the creature was suddenly by her side. In a blink of an eye, El Somberón reached into the earth and forced a fistful of dirt into her mouth. She gagged against the bitter taste and her eyes watered as she found herself completely immobile. “A mouthful of earth today, mi belleza, for one day, it is the earth that will swallow you.”

As the creature leaned in to smell her hair, she caught a glimpse of his twisted, decaying mouth. She closed her eyes and prayed he would kill her quickly. She could feel his breath against her neck, hot and rancid, as El Somberón moved to tower over her from behind. He ran his monstrous fingers through her dark locks with gentle finesse. “Ah, never cut. Just as I had hoped!” he said, excitedly. Mirjana held her breath in anticipation, expecting that he would hurt her any moment, crying to herself, “Mi Dios, llévame! Por favor!”

Read Vol. 1, Chapter 1 HERE.

No comments: