La Llorona's Daughter - Chapter 8: The gift of mediumship


The story so far: Caridad, a Cuban married to a Taoseño, is having trouble adapting to her new environment. To make things worse, a family ghost pays her an unexpected visit. After an argument with her mother-in-law, Caridad agrees to display her mother's portrait on the altar, but she still fails to understand the Day of the Dead ceremonies. Michael and Caridad discuss their future plans and Margarita, Caridad's Puerto Rican friend, arrives. Margarita and Caridad discuss the need for women to have their own money and independence. In a flashback, Angélica, who is still alive, gets into an argument with her mother. Rita concludes that all young women are equally disrespectful. In Chapter 6, Angélica and Caridad have a fight. Angélica threatens to take the baby away from her and give him to La Llorona. Caridad refuses. Michael, who can't see his dead sister, starts to suspect that there is something wrong with his wife. In Chapter 7, Angélica makes herself visible to her family shortly before midnight and tries to establish contact with them, but Caridad is the only one who can see her. Michael feels threatened by the conversation about his sister and gets ready to leave.

Rita stopped her son, taking him by the arm before he left the room.

"Please, Mike, don't upset me in this sacred, special night," she said. "It's hard enough as it is. At least for me."

Michael sat down again. He was exasperated, but made an effort to calm down.

"You never told me about your sister," Caridad said to him.

She glanced at Angélica, who looked as if she were waiting for someone to notice her presence.

"Because I don't remember her," Michael said curtly. "I was a baby when she died."

Rita crossed herself, turning back to the altar. Caridad, curious, addressed Angélica.

"What happened, eh?" she asked her.

"I wanted to go to a party in Española," Angélica said.

Rita, believing that Caridad was asking her, explained, "It was a Day of the Dead, just like today. It was already dark and I forbade her to leave the house. She had to stay here, helping me make dinner and taking care of her brother."

"I thought that was so unfair," Angélica went on. "So when la Amber, a high school friend, came to pick me up, I just took off with her."

Rita covered her face with her hands.

"I saw her when she was leaving," she whispered. "I was in the kitchen, making tamales and worried about the many things I still had to do. I hated her then, thinking she was way too loudmouth and lazy. 'Good riddance,' I said under my breath. I will never forgive myself!"

Caridad got closer to her mother-in-law and put a hand on her shoulder.

"Listen, Rita, I believe that it's normal to get mad at our kids once in a while," she said. "It happens to me often."

Rita didn't hear her.

"I let her go," she said. "I could have stopped her. I could have ordered her to stay home, but I didn't."

She sighed.

"Their car overturned when they were near the Río Grande," she added in a low voice. "They fell into the river and the bodies were never found."

Angélica shrugged.

"Fine with me," she said. "That way, they couldn't bury me. I wouldn't have liked to be 6 feet under. I hate to be - confined."

Her mother sobbed.

"I can't even take flowers to her grave."

"Don't worry about that, Mom," Angélica said. "I don't care for flowers. I wish you would talk to me, though."

She winked at Caridad.

"You are the only one who sees me, eh, Cubana?"

Caridad smiled, but she grew sad when she looked at her mother's photo on the altar.

"You know what? My mother died after I left Cuba," she said. "I haven't been able to take flowers to her grave either."

Angélica sat down beside her. The three women were now close to each other on the couch, with Caridad in the middle, her mother-in-law on the left and Angélica on the right.

"Flowers are not important," Angélica whispered. "What matters is what you have in your heart."

Michael got up and walked quietly to the kitchen. They didn't notice. Angélica turned to Caridad.

"Your mom will visit you and you'll be able to see her," she said. "You are a medium, did you know it? That's a gift."

Caridad nodded.

"Yes, I've always known it," she said. "Once, when I was a little girl, my mom took me to a Santería session and I saw all the spirits that were there. I described them and conveyed their messages. But then the neighbors started saying that I was a witch in training and was going to curse them. That scared me so much that I started to block the spirits when they came - until I met you. You were very persistent."

"I don't give up easily," Angélica said.

Rita, without paying attention to them, continued talking to herself.

"I beat my daughter up when she was disrespectful," she admitted, ashamed. "I didn't beat Mike up, though. I never let my husband punish him either because he was m'ijito. But poor Angélica - I was too hard on her."

"My mother also hit me sometimes," Caridad said. "One day, she threw a urinal at my head."

"A urinal!" Angélica exclaimed.

"At least it was empty," Caridad said. "She didn't want me to go out at night either, but I didn't mind her. I always did as I pleased, though I surely paid for it. But I don't hold a grudge against her."

"I don't hold a grudge against my mom either," Angélica said. "I wish I could tell her."

"I could try," Caridad said. "I'll tell her that you are here and -"

"Don't," Angélica replied. "She'd think that you are crazy. I will keep coming until she sees me. There is no other way."

Caridad took her hand. The three women sat together on the couch for a long time.