We walked close to each other without touching. I could smell the innumerable wildflowers in bloom. I saw her wan smile in the corner of my eye. "I wish we could be together forever," she whispered.
"You know that's not meant to be." I wished I could stay in this ldyllic place. "We have tasks waiting for us."
A sigh, feather-soft, like the gray plumage lazily drifting down before us from one of the trees. "Yes, I understand." She turned to gaze at me with lustrous brown-black eyes. "But you and I, we are not so different, are we?"
I remained silent, taking in the chittering of the squirrels. It was a pleasant moment amid these trees, as always. Never too hot or too cold. A sense of abundant life never actually seen.
"You are quiet this time."
I closed my eyes, reopened them. "How many more times will we be able to meet here," I asked. "Do you know? I don't."
She stepped toward me, face raised. "I know not, either." She licked her lips. "So, perhaps we should --"
Her voice cut off as we were bathed in a searing white light. "No!" she screamed. An unseen force yanked her away, upward. She fell into her native Spanish. "Madre Maria, no. ¡Dispénsame! Por una vez, ¡dame felicidad!" (Mother Mary, no! Forgive me! For just once, let me be happy!) Her imploring arms reached for me in vain. "¡Ayúdame!" (Help me!) She faded. Her racking sobs echoed through the forest. "¡Mis niños!" (My babies!)
The light intensified, then winked out.
I stand in the bedroom. A place I know well, since I've been here so many times before.
The teen shifts uneasily in his bed. He knows I've come for him again. His body shivers. His feet kick the stained sheets off his nude body. He rolls over.
I begin with the moans.
Eyes snap open. I never know ahead of time if he sees me. Tonight, he doesn't.
"Who's there?" Quavering, like some poor lost pre-schooler, not the near-adult he is.
I moan louder. I moan for all the innocent blood shed by violence. I moan for all the poor souls torn from this world before their time. I moan for myself, a gunshot victim at this youth's hand, for the sake of a grimy ten-dollar bill and a maxed-out piece of plastic.
"Stop it!" He howls like a wounded animal caught in a trap it knows it cannot escape.
I howl my sorrow for the souls that take the wrong path when they could have had Paradise. I howl for those of us sentenced to an endless Purgatory, never again knowing love. I howl for a special lady, doomed forever to wander the Mexican land, where she is called "La Llorona."
"Don't torture me any more!" He shrieks.
I shriek my own torture.
I shriek at God's injustice.