Growing up in a haunted house is challenging enough, never mind having to deal her parents’ rocky marriage, but now Lucia’s mom decides 13 is the perfect age to reveal the family curse.
Published in Two With Water, Second Dose, May 2012
Based on my husband’s family folklore, Ghost Games is the story that inspired my novel Corridos of the Copper Coin.
Mami walked toward the kitchen, her green plastic slippers tapping and scuffing on the floor. One of the candles went out and Abuelita eased out of the rocking chair to relight it. She pointed down at the tin box, and Ernesto dumped all the dominoes onto the floor at once. As they tumbled onto the floor, Mami suddenly yelped “Ay!” like someone who hit their thumb with a hammer.
Next thing you know she stomped into the living room holding one of her green slippers in her hand. “Who was it, who pulled my hair? Pobren de ustedes si no me dicen!” She said and we knew that if someone didn’t speak up we’d get a spanking we wouldn’t soon forget.
“Ay, m’ija, it wasn’t them,” Abuelita said once again easing back into the rocker, “All of the children were here playing dominoes. What in God’s name has gotten into you?” Mami was fuming her face was bright red, and she squeezed the slipper so tightly it started to fold down the middle. The little ones on the floor scooched backwards toward the sofa with their hands on their bottoms. I crossed my legs uncomfortably.
“Who pulled my hair!” Mami said again.
“Calmate!” Abuelita said “ I’m telling you it wasn’t them, just tell us what happened, Delores.”
Mami took a deep breath and tightened her grip on the slipper. “I was washing dishes,” she said, “My hands were in the water up to my elbows. Suddenly I felt my hair grabbed and yanked back so hard I could feel my skin tearing,” She demonstrated for us, holding a chunk of her hair in her hand pulling it out straight. “My neck aches from the snap. It must have been one of the children playing a joke!” She slammed the slipper down to the floor and all the candles flickered out at the same time.
“Pray,” Abuelita said while Mami relit the candles as quickly as possible. In the dark, shadows that could be ghosts flickered on the walls and ceiling. Abuelita gathered Risa and Berto onto her lap, and Tito and Lena pulled themselves closer to the rocking chair laying their heads against Abuelita’s legs. Mami nudged Ernesto to the sofa where she squeezed him and herself in beside me. Whenever things got real scary both Mami and Abuelita said you should stop, take a deep breath and pray to la virgencita to protect you. So we prayed, those of us old enough to remember the words that is. The little children got quiet and eventually fell asleep to the gentle sound of Mami’s and Abuelita’s rosary beads softly clicking in their hands.
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