A Family Secret:Chapter 6

Ah the twin, and where is the boy twin, Luis?” Lucy’s uncle greeted them at the door with a quick kiss on the cheek as he let them in.

“He’s at school now Nate, he decided to transfer to a school in San Antonio this semester. He wants to be a Radiologist and the college here didn’t offer the course he needed.”

“Meda, que bueno! That’s good. So no college for you then, little one?”

“No, I mean I will probably go sometime I’m just not ready yet. I’m going to start working part time with Stella next week though.”

“Oh good, that’s good. I was about to put on the coffee pot, do you want one or maybe a soda?”

Janie looked to see Lucy shaking her head no. “No Nate, thank you can we just go in with ma now?”

“Yes of course, but come back over before you leave we’ll visit then.”

Lucy and Janie walked down the hallway to a small back room. It was Nate and Rosa’s guest room and it had been painted in a soothing lavender color. The coverlet and curtains were covered in a lovely floral print in lavender, yellow and pink to match it. Janie liked to see her momma in a bedroom instead of a hospital but she wondered if her mother noticed the difference anymore.  She had lost so much weight since getting sick, she almost got lost in the queen sized bed.

“She’s so tiny.”

“I know, your grandma has always been a small woman, but she is absolutely shrinking now.”

Lucy helped her mom fix her grandmother’s coverlet. Nate had said that she had had a hard night so they were not too surprised to find her fast asleep. She muttered something and grimaced in her sleep but then grew quiet again.

“Do you want to go wait with your tio? I don’t know how long your grandma will be sleeping, I’m just going to sit here and wait in case she wakes.”

“No mom it’s okay I can wait.” Lucy squeezed her mom’s hand. They sat in the two dining room chairs that her uncle had probably moved into the room just for that purpose and waited.

In the bed Lucy’s grandma grimaced again and then stat up in bed.

“Mama! What’s wrong? What do you need?”

Her mother spoke in Spanish but she could understand most of the words.

“La bluha negra tenga tu Hermana!” She had looked straight into Janie’s eyes with a startled expression that she wopuld never forget and then she closed her eyes again.

“Mom, what did she say?”

Lucy turned to look at her daughter, her eys looked like they were starting to fill up. “She said that……….she said that the black witch has my sister.”

When her sister came to take their place Janie walked into the kitchen to find her brother Nate. Lucy, here come sit down I’ll get you coffee.”

“No, Nate, I’m okay.”

“What my coffee’s not good enough for you?” he said it with a smile,” You take milk and two sugars right? And for you Lucy, is a coke okay?”

Lucy smiled.”Yes.”

Nate poured Lucy an orange soda while the coffee water boiled and she smiled bigger but didn’t say anything. It was common for older people in this town to call any kind of soda a coke, and she didn’t mind orange soda too much anyway.

When they were all at the table again Janie began, “Nate. Mama said something weird just right now.”

“Oh yes? What was that?”

Janie explained what had happened while Nate took off his glasses and wiped them.

“What do you think that means?”

“Well, I think maybe Mama knows that she is going and is trying to make peace with what happened to Cata. What do you think that it means?”

“But Nate, why would she even mention the black witch? She’s never even said a word about her before. I didn’t even know that she knew anything about her!”

“Janie, we lived in a very close neighborhood. You couldn’t even walk to the outhouse without three neighbors knowing and then telling three more neighbors. So when Cata started going around asking questions about a black witch legend how long do you think it took someone to tell mama about it? Of course she knew, we’ve always felt guilty for not doing more about it. The thing is Janie, ghosts or spantos whatever you want to call them, the more attention you give them the more their power grows. She talked to me when Cata first started hearing things at night and we thought it was best to ignore the whole thing and wait for it to go away. We didn’t think she would get obsessed with it. I know better now, sometimes you don’t choose to get involved with something, sometimes it chooses you and there is nothing that you can do about it.”

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel, for part 5 go here, for part 6 1/2 go here. All other posts for this can be found on the A Family Secret page. Thanks for reading!

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A Family Secret: Chapter 5

She’s doing as well as can be expected. She’s in a lot of pain, even with the painkillers she is on. Maria keeps praying to have her stay with us longer but sometimes…sometimes I think it would be kinder to let her go.” The words seemed cold to her but Janie hoped what she felt behind the words was clear. Her mother was suffering, the cancer had spread too far by the time she went to see a doctor and now all they could do was sit with her and do all they could to make her comfortable. “Well I’m happy that you got the chance to mend things with her before she went.”

Lucy didn’t really have the closest relationship with her grandma but she remembered going to see her on Christmases and on her birthday. She remembered her house and how it always smelled like prayer candles and she could still picture her walls that were covered from top to bottom with images of saints cut out from old calendars.

Once she had wandered into her grandma’s bedroom and seen a large illustrated poster depicting two scenes. One side must have been a good girl, angels surrounded her as she prayed and did good deeds. The other side was the same girl but devils followed her. One image was of the girl’s hair being pulled by a devil who lay under her bed and had stayed fresh in her mind’s eye from the moment she saw it. She was stood in front of the poster trying to understand the images when her mother found her and pulled her away, chiding her for going into people’s bedrooms without permission. She was never able to sleep without her parents checking under her bed first after that. Her mother called it a silly poster and told her to stop thinking about it but even now at twenty years old the image seemed fresh to her.

She shuddered a bit and Janie patted her shoulder.

“ I’m sorry I shouldn’t say these things to you, I forget that you’re so young still. If you want to go with me today I’ll be leaving in twenty minutes,okay?”

This is a continuation of my Nanowrimo novel, for part 4 go here, for part 6  go here. All other posts for this can be found on the A Family Secret page. Thanks for reading!

A Family Secret:Chapter 4

“Where’s mama?  You should have called me sooner!” Janie’s face was grief-stricken as she scanned her sibling’s faces in the hospital waiting room.

“You didn’t care so much about mama when you turned your back on your faith. We called you soon enough. Mama wants to see you, that is the only reason why you are here.” Maria bit the words off in icy clips, like she was trying to talk and clench her teeth shut at the same time.

Janie swallowed the tears in her throat and willed herself to not lose herself here. Not now in front of these people that she used to call family. Maria had always been the coldest towards her, maybe their age difference meant they had never really bonded. More than that, the church was everything to Maria. She never missed a mass; she knew all of her Saints like she knew the names of her daughters. Janie leaving the church to marry her husband and then to be baptized in the Baptist church was an unforgivable sin to Maria. Janie tried to look at Anna but she kept her eyes downcast. Anna would never go against Maria; she had always been the weaker of the two.

Nate coughed to break the tension. “Come Juanita, Ven, I’ll take you to mama.” He made his way between the two sisters and  placing a hand under Janie’s elbow he led her away.  

Good old Nate, the peacekeeper, Janie appreciated that he had always tried to keep in touch with her but she missed the closeness they had once had. They walked down the hallway in near silence the sound of their shoes echoing before them.

“Mama, she’s okay. I mean she is not okay, of course not, but she still has a little time. Rosa and I are taking her back to our home, a Hospice nurse will come by to check on her and we all decided that we will take turns staying with her during the day. Janie, I wanted you to have that option too.”

“But will she be okay at a house? Couldn’t they do more for her here?”

“Juanita, it’s too late, all we can do is make sure is comfortable. I think she would be happier with her children.”

Janie nodded. Of course her was right, mama hated hospitals. “I’ll go over as often as you’ll let me. What about Maria?”

“I’ll talk to her; mama would want you there too. Maria is going to have to deal with that.”

“Thank you.” They had stopped in front of a room marked with her mother’s name in jerky script. Janie hugged her brother quickly and then pushed against the door to go in.

“Mama.” It had been at least six months since she saw her and Janie regretted letting that be the case. She tried to call her every couple days but the calls were always short. Though her mother never voiced what she was thinking the way Maria did, Janie knew that she disapproved of her lifestyle. Now it was hard to look at her mother lying there looking so frail and small without beating herself up for not trying harder. She walked up to her mother in the hospital bed and put her hand as close to hers as she dared. It hurt her to see all of the wires going in and out of her. “Estas ven? Nesisitas agua? Are you well, do you need some water?” Her mother had lived in America all her life but preferred to speak in Spanish. Janie talked English most of the time now and the words in her Spanish pronunciation sounded off to her ears. Her mother nodded no and lifting two of her fingers, she placed them on Janie’s hand. Their eyes met and both filled up, so much time wasted was the thought they seemed to mirror. Janie’s other hand covered her mother’s and she touched her head to her head before rising up and kissing the forehead gone soft with age. They didn’t seem to need any more words just yet.

A Family Secret:Chapter 3

It was funny but Lucy had always seemed to be full of fear. Her mother didn’t know if she had somehow doted on her more and made her this way, or if it was just who she was. When she was born Lucy had been the smaller of the  twins and it is true that Janie had been a lot more careful with her then she had ever been with her other children. Twins worried her anyway, her mother had a set of twins before she was born and both had only lived a week. Her sister Maria had given birth to twins and they had died in their teens by drowning. When she learned that she was going to have twins herself, and have them so late in life she was full of fear for them. That fear seemed to be bottled up inside of Lucy. And yet, she did ask to hear the stories. They scared her much more then they scared her brother, but she still listened to them, still asked to hear them herself sometimes. Maybe somewhere there was some bravery in Lucy, it just had to be woken up.

“Boo!”

Lucy jumped back and then realizing that it was just her brother messing with her again, she scowled and tried closing the closet door on him.

“You’re so stupid!”

“Ha, you’re so funny! I’ve never seen anyone jump that high before. Ha ha ha.”

“That’s fine have you’re laughs I’m just on edge today that’s all.”

“I figured, why do you think I hid in here til y’all got back? Lucy, why did you come back anyway? I thought you were going to spend the night with Martha at Sandra’s house.”

“Ugh. Don’t even mention that. I’m never going back to that haunted house again, I don’t see how Sandra can live there.”

“What? What happened? C’mon Luce spill, or else!”

Lucy was quiet for a minute while Abel waited patiently but he fionally lost patience.

“Luce!”

“Shh. I don’t even know really it happened so fast. Sandra and her husband were fighting over something stupid in the kitchen and I was at the table wishing they wouldn’t do that while I was there and then all of a sudden..”

“What? “

“Well, all of a sudden faces started popping out of that wooden cabinet that divides the kitchen in half.”

“You’re full of it.”

“I’m not kidding! They came out one by one. They came all the way out of the cabinets and then became part of the cabinet! And the whole time those two kept arguing without even noticing. It was around the time the third one popped out that I finally found my voice and started freaking out. They stopped and just looked at me like I was the crazy one. Meanwhile two more faces popped in and out while they just stood there.”

“Aw Lucy you imagined that. Or you made it up to make them stop fighting.”

“I didn’t! My yelling made Martha come out and then they all stopped and saw what I was talking about.”

“What more faces popped out?”

“No. The faces were still there. They’re like engrained into the wood now- everyone saw it right away and got freaked out too.”

“So what are they doing now?”

“Bah, you know Sandra by the time Ma came to pick me up she had decided that the faces had always been there and that we just hadn’t noticed them before. Case closed.”

“No way!”

“I kid you not. Ma saw them too but she didn’t say much. She had a talk to Sandra about how their fighting was probably stirring up negative energy. And she told me in the car how if she were still a Catholic she’d have called a preist to come bless the house.”

“Damn. That sucks.”

“I know! Its so freaky! I told Martha she should spend the night at ourn house instead but I guess she didn’t want to leave her mom. I’m sure it’s bothering Sandra more then she’ll let on.”

“Yeah, that’s all bad but I that’s not what I mean. How come the biggest scaredy cat in our whole family got to see something and me who actually whats to see something never has? That’s what sucks.”

Lucy punched her brother’s arm lightly.

“You’re such a ding dong. I tell you what next time you stay at our crazy sister’s haunted house, I dare you.”

“Heck no, I’m more scared of her then I’d ever be of any ghost! Ha her temper probably woke the dang things up!”

Lucy laughed and she knew that she was already feeling better. She was lucky to have a brother who always made her laugh her fears away. She needed that in this family.

A Family Secret:Chapter 2

“I don’t know Lucy, I am the only one in my family besides my mama to have never seen anything myself. You’re lucky, it seems like you and your brother might have escaped as well.”

It was still early as they made the tortillas for breakfast and lunch and so they were able to chat and take their time about it.

“I know my witchy sister have seen plenty of things and I will pass on that gift, thank you very much. Bah, how come your tortillas always look so much rounder then mine do?”

Lucy picked up the long oval tortilla that she had been working on and several small holes appeared as it stretched to an even longer oval shape. Janie tried not to chuckle, her youngest daughter was a sensitive one.

“It takes practice, and patience I think you must be rushing.”

“I’m not! I just don’t have your skills I think.”

“Don’t worry, they still taste good. You will get better if you keep trying; just promise me you will keep trying. I’d like at least one of my daughters to know how to make tortillas.”

She was joking of course, Janie was proud of her daughters and their cushy office jobs. She had never expected them to be copies of herself…still, sometimes it seemed like they tried very hard to follow different paths then she had. She had always worked cleaning houses but then she started having trouble with her knees. She was just lucky that her brother had known someone who needed help at the same time. Now all she had to do was sit with one of the husbands of the country club lady while she ran errands or “had lunch” with her friends. She was expected to serve him lunch and sit with him, but she didn’t have to cook, the lunches were fixed and kept in the refrigerator when she got there. After lunch she washed his few dishes and then she pushed his chair into the garden and walked him around for a while until he was ready to go inside. It was usually time for his wife to back from her day out by then and then it was time for her to go home then. It was very different from the almost backbreaking work she was used to.  She was almost guilty that it didn’t pay much less than those jobs had…almost. After all she still had two little ones at home to provide for.

The twins had certainly been a surprise. At 39 years old she assumed she was going through the change at first. It wouldn’t have been the first time that happened to someone her age, after all. The news that she was pregnant again shocked her- the later news that she was carrying twins was almost unbelievable. Twins, when she had already had four children and watched them grow up into young adults, were unexpected. Her husband and her had worried about raising children that could’ve called her grandma, but it had all worked out just fine. She was 51 now and she still felt able to do many more things. Raising two sometimes mischievous, always lovable twins was not a problem. 

“Hey, don’t call your sisters witchy, I got wrapped up in tortillas and almost missed that carancha!”

“Ha! But mama they are. How often do they call because they have a “feeling” that something is wrong? And all those ghost sightings they’ve had, it’s not normal.”

“No they are not. And I do not like you to call them that. If they see things it is not their fault. It’s been that way with my family since, well you know since what.”

“Uncle’s story- you said you’d tell it again.”

Janie sighed but started anyway.

“Your Uncle Nate was the first of us to run into…problems. He had just gotten out of the army and had money to buy a house and settle down. He got married to, it seemed, the first nice girl he set eyes on and then he and Rosa bought a house two blocks from where we were living at the time. It was a nice little house. It didn’t seem like there was anything different about it, but then the guys in the neighborhood started telling him stories about the rumors surrounding it.

It seems like one of the past owners was eccentric and didn’t trust banks, so he would bury jars with his money in the lots behind his house. Well the land was an acre and a half in all and sometimes he couldn’t always find all of his money. Supposedly a lot of his money, including some very old gold coins he owned had never been found when he passed on. His children sold the house and everyone who bought the land after that spent most of the rest of their life trying to find it.

“I’m not going to be stupid enough to waste my life like that.” he said. 

But somehow the thought nagged him. He lost sleep over thinking on how he might be a rich man without even knowing it. He held out for as long as he could but finally he gave into the urge to dig. And then he really dug. He dug every chance he got. In the morning before he went to work he dug. In the evening as soon as he got off work he dug. He was a man obsessed, his young wife even threatened to leave him and still he dug.

One night he dug later then he had ever dug before. The moon was full and he thought he would use that to his advantage. He dug a little deeper this time and all of a sudden his shovel hit something. He stopped digging and got on his hands and knees to sweep away the dirt from what looked like a very old chest. And then a white dog the size of a large man jumped out of the hole he had just dug and knocked him to the ground. He said it was dazzling white though it had come from the ground. He said it had teeth that glared in the moonlight and eyes of red that looked into his soul.

My sister in law had sent one of the neighborhood men to go looking for him when he didn’t go home that night and he found him on the ground clutching his heart. We almost lost him that night. You won’t be surprised to know that he sold that home as soon as he could, he lost money on it but he didn’t want to live there anymore, that dog had scared him that much. He thought it had come from hell itself. “

Lucy shook off goose bumps. She was glad that it was sunny and bright in their kitchen. “Mama, can I go to work with you today?”

It wasn’t a strange thing for her to do on a Saturday anyway- her brother liked to spend them with the boys next door. Lucy didn’t like being left alone, and there was no way, no how that  she would stay home alone today.

Her mama just smiled and nodded yes and they finished up their work almost in silence.

Lucy’s story begins

“I hate when you tell this story, I can never sleep afterward.” Lucy snuggled up beside her mother in her parent’s bed and pulled the covers up under her neck. She would’ve covered her head but that would’ve reminded her too much of her Aunt Cathy’s story.

“Oh quit being a baby, chicken head. It’s one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever heard. Sorry Mom, I didn’t mean it that way.” Luis tried to correct himself but it was too late. Janie wiped her eye quickly and then reached over and tousled her son’s head.

“It’s okay hijo, I know. To you it is just a story. It’s just that Cathy was my favorite sister. She disappeared and it was like our family changed forever after that. My family moved to a new rental right after but it was like bad luck followed us wherever we went.”

“Why did Grandma ever move into that old house anyway? Couldn’t you guys have found something safer?”

“Well Lucy, that was right after my father had died. My mom had to move us off the farm we were working on and to a house quickly. My brother was about to go into the army and a family of four girls and their mam couldn’t run it all by themselves. We moved to this town and that house is all we could afford at the time. She didn’t know if it was safe or not.”

“Do you think that Black Witch thing really got Aunt Cathy?”

“I don’t know. I do know that my sister would never have left her family forever if she didn’t have to. They all assumed she had run off with some boy but that wasn’t like her. She wasn’t even talking to anybody that I knew of. Luis go get me that big book of fairy tales that you like so much. You two can keep me company in here tonight, okay?”

“Okay mama, no worries I’ll take care of you.” 

“Lucy I’m sorry, when your brother asks to hear that story I forget myself for a minute. I did not mean to scare you, okay?”

“I just don’t know why he likes hearing the family ghost stories so much, that’s all. He keeps saying that he wants to see something one day.”

“Well, I hope that day never happens. Seeing things is never a good thing. No good has ever come of it for my family.”

“Like Uncle Nate, when he came home from the army and bought that land that was supposed to have money buried on it?”

“I thought you didn’t like our family’s ghost stories?”

“I don’t! But they are kind of interesting, that’s all. But Mama?”

“Yes, baby?”

“Tell it to me in the morning, okay?”

“Okay baby girl.” Janie kissed the top of Lucy’s head until she made her stop. She was happy that the twins would be sleeping in her big bed with her, she had never gotten used to sleeping alone while her husband was on the road. She didn’t even like them to sleep in their room when her husband was home if she was honest. Their room was right next to her and her husband’s bedroom but it felt miles away. Maybe that was why she always felt the need to get up and check on them several times a night. Her insomnia had been an old friend since her sister’s disappearance. It slacked off once she had each of her babies and kept them with her; it started up once it was time to move them to their own bed. She didn’t see it herself but the insomnia and her smothering tendencies were both battle scars that came with the loss of her sister and never really knowing what had happened.

 Cathy looked around her. She still remembered the shack her family had lived in so long ago. She couldn’t imagine how her mother had felt when she had to move her children into that home, alone. She couldn’t imagine what that would have felt like. Her bedroom alone was the size of the front room and kitchen in that house put together. She felt lucky to have what she had, not only the house and the lifestyle and security, her family as well. Of course her family was her biggest blessing. She should be fulfilled and yet the past still bothered her.

A Family Secret Part 4

Holy Mary,

Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners now,

And at the hour of death.

Amen

And that was what it had been like until this point. Two weeks of not getting enough sleep and being scared out of her mind. She had asked around the neighborhood and what Pete had said was pretty much true. Fifty years ago a young woman had lived in their house alone.  The fact that she was alone was really suspicious back then. They didn’t know her whole story but she was gifted with herbs and only wore black.  At first people visited her for her cures and she became known as a talented cuyondida, but she had a mean streak to her, especially when people could not pay for her services. Children in the neighborhood began to go missing and fingers began to point in her direction as the cause. She began to be known as the black witch and no one but the most unsavory among them would pay her visits. If you could pay her price, you could as for almost anything.

On the night she disappeared it was said that a group of men from the neighborhood had surrounded her house and taunted her to come out to them. When she didn’t listen to their calls, they broke down the door and entered her house anyway. She was never heard from again.

Was the witch the person washing dishes in her kitchen every night? Cathy’s hands felt sweaty as she clenched and unclenched them under the covers. Any minute now the sound of the tap opening and water gushing out would start. One by one she would hear dishes being put into the water and then scrubbed, clinking against each other in the process. One way or another she needed this to end here. She wanted to know what she was dealing with. This night she had decided not to hide under the covers and chant Hail Marys until she fell asleep. She heard the tap being turned on, she heard the water and she sat up in her bed. The water turned off abruptly. Cathy adjusted her eyes to the dark and looked around her. There where her sisters sound asleep unaware to what she was about to face. Should she go out to meet this thing? Maybe it was wrong to wait for her here, she knew somehow that if she waited something would appear. She heard light footsteps cross the creaky kitchen floor and make their way down the narrow hallway. Maybe it was her mother? She allowed herself this one last hope but knew it wasn’t so. The air grew cold and her breath made small clouds of smoke over her face. If she clenched her hands any harder she would draw blood but the footsteps were so close now. And now they stopped at her door, a thin, tall figure was framed there. Her heart stopped. Hail Mary…oh what where the words, her mind was blank. Hail…no, she’s moving closer.

The figure crossed over the door sill and into the room and towards her. She couldn’t breathe. She reached over and shook Janie in spite of herself, she wouldn’t wake up. Cathy tried to scream out to her mother but no words came out of her mouth. The tall black figure was beside her bed, she sat down and the bed sank beneath her weight. Still Janie slept on. Dim light from one small window fell on the figure as it turned to face her and she saw, she saw no face. Where a face should have been there was nothing but smooth skin, she gasped inside herself. The last thing Cathy ever saw a thin, bony hand coming towards her in the dark.  

Cathy was never heard from again nor was any trace of her to be found. Her mother, brother and older sisters were questioned but they had no ideas about where she could have gone. The truth of the matter was that they all worked and more often than not they got back home to eat and went straight to bed. Cathy was always assumed to be a good girl but who knew anymore these days? Girls could pretend to be one way and turn out the complete opposite. Her mother admitted that her daughter had been acting strange and withdrawn for the past half month.

Janie had stories to tell of a ghost that had been haunting her big sister but of course no one listened. No one had time for the ranting of a silly little girl.