My husband removed his expensive boots. We had been to a wedding dance in Mexico and were wearing our finest clothes. He wriggled out of his pants and crawled through the window to check out the problem.
His exit left me alone to stare out into the night. The only sound was the gurgling of the river and the creaking noise made by the truck as the insistent current pushed against it.
“Honey,” I yelled, “do you think the Rio could move the truck?”
“Why do you think I’m standing upstream?” he called from under the hood. Then he slogged to the window. “I’d come find you, Mi Amor,” he assured me, but he was laughing.
I was not comforted.
He went back to work on the motor, but within a few moments he yelped. There was panicky splashing and grunting, and then he catapulted through the driver’s side window.
“Something touched me,” he gasped, his dark eyes huge.
“It was probably a fish.”
“It was a hand! We can’t stay here.” He shivered. “She’ll come for us.”
“Stop it.” I didn’t ask who would come for us because I didn’t want to know.
My husband shifted in the seat to face me, his eyes still wide. “She haunts the river, you know.”
I knew what was coming and didn’t want to hear a creepy tale about the Rio Grande while we were stuck in the middle of it on a night when the darkness was as thick as mud.
Before I could stop him the liar launched into the story of La Llorona, the most famous of the Mexican ghost stories. Long tale short, Maria Gonzales fell in love with a young nobleman and they married, but the marriage soon turned sour. She loved her husband, but he flirted with other women, especially the young ladies from the wealthy side of town. This hurt Maria’s pride.
After the birth of two children, Maria’s husband became even more distant.
Sometimes he wouldn’t come home until morning. When he did, he brought small gifts for the children, but he ignored Maria. He wouldn’t even look at her.
The end came the day Maria spied her husband riding with a beautiful woman in a fancy wagon. As she watched, her children ran to meet them. He gave them a big smile and pieces of candy, but he never looked at her once.
Jealous rage boiled up in Maria. When her husband and his companion rode away, she took her children to the river. In a moment of insane anger and jealousy, she threw them from the cliff. As soon as she did it, she realized what she had done and fell to her knees moaning and wailing. Then one dark night, Maria threw herself into the river where she had murdered her niños.
A few days later, La Llorona appeared at the spot where Maria had drowned her children. On dark and silent nights, a voice carries on the wind. A voice choked with tears, crying out, “Mis niños, mis niños!”
With the passage of time, Maria forgot what her children looked like so she began calling to all children. Whenever she finds a child alone in the dark near the water, she grabs it.
“La Llorona still cries for her children,” he finished, “coming in the dark, seeking what is forever lost to her.”
“That’s such a sad story,” I said.
“Nah, nah, nah.” He shook his head, disgusted with me. “You’re not supposed to be sad. You’re supposed to be afraid.”
“It sounds like a story people tell their children to keep them away from the river at night.”
He rolled his eyes. “I’m disappointed, Mi Amor. I went to a lot of trouble to scare you.”
“Why? Being stuck in the river in the dark of night is plenty scary.”
“Well,” he sighed, “I guess that’s something.”
Then he winked at me and started the truck.