In the rocking chair, Lita held her newborn son. She brushed the baby’s downy curls across his forehead and kissed his smooth cheek. “You have Carlos’ chin,” she thought, “but you have my nose,” Placing his tiny form in the crib, she tucked his blanket securely around him.
Leaving the door to his room cracked open, she jumping when thunder rattled the window pane and lightening flashed in the hallway. Distored shadows of tree branches writhed across the walls. She tried the light switch. Dead. She pulled her shawl tighter across her shoulders. “Duermete nino, duermete ya . . . que viene el cuco y te comera. “(Sleep child, sleep now . . . or else comes the cuco to eat you) an image of a ghostly figure with a pumkin head filled her mind. Where did that come from? She hadn’t thought of El Cuco in years. Ridiculous really, just a story parents used on small children to get them to stay in bed at night. I am no longer a child, besides, I must keep the candles lit for Dia De Los Meurtos (Day Of The Dead).
A loud bang came from the front of the house. The wind, she thought, her heart pounding. Rushing into the front room she could smell the potent aroma of marigolds covering the ofrenda she had decorated that morning. Candles flickered around portraits of her abuelos (grandparents) and the younger brother she had lost. Sugar skulls, fruit and candy were scattered among the flowers, frames and candles. Nothing seemed out of place.
A sudden cold draft whispered across Lita’s neck and her hair stood on end. A warm yellow glow came from behind her and she froze in place. Lita, a voice whispered. Whimpering with fright, Lita slowly turned to find a luminous pumpkin head floating in the air, with the face of evil etched in it’s skin. Lita screamed in terror and struck out with fear and fury to protect her child. The pumpkin head flew across the room and crashed into the wall, smashing into a mash of meat and shell.
For the first time Lita saw Carlos standing there. He looked shocked. “Lita,” he said, “my cousin taught me how to carve that pumpkin. It’s what they do in America.”