Latinx Halloween Series: A Short Story By Ellie Lopez
BY ELLIE LOPEZ
El niño de la foto.
We sat around the table in the dark.
After the lights had gone out for the 3rd time that day. Hearing voices in the street screaming “Se fue la luz!”, then shortly after watching our vecinos get together a chismear outside.
Meanwhile, we stayed inside.
In Mexico, the darkness always brought out the stories. And as children we became obsessed with ghost stories. Asking to hear the stories over and over again, until our parents became annoyed and we would make up our own stories.
There’s something about the dark that connects people. Stories we have no problem sharing, but once the light hits we forget everything. Here we were sitting at the table, hanging on to every word. Each story, different then the last and yet connected in some way. Everyone’s interruption of what ghosts really were.
Were ghosts espiritus that we needed to pray for?
Lost souls trapped between our world and the spirit world.
Or were they ghosts of our past, trapped in a continuous loop?
Pero, el niño de la foto. That story went beyond the monsters of horror films. Beyond la llorona crying for her children in the river canals through the pueblitos in Mexico.
When my Tia told her story, I forget so many parts.
Was it a field trip?
A family trip?
Or just an everyday adventure–my mind is forgetting.
What I remember was that it was a photo of a wall; a photo that at the time had no meaning. Just a space to finish a roll of film to get developed. Imagine getting your photos developed and seeing something you swore wasn’t there before. An image of a boy crying in front of a wall that you swore wasn’t there. A photo that haunted my Tia that she shared the photo with a friend of hers.
When her friend saw the photo she asked my Tia to place her hands on the photo.
“Sientes algo”, her friend asked.
“Nada”, my Tia replied.
My Tia thought it was a joke. She wasn’t one to believe in ghosts. She often forgets her own childhood stories to change her own narrative, but here she was entertaining the idea. Something about that photo haunted her, reaching out to her that she couldn’t explain. Meanwhile, her friend made a connection to the boy. A boy left to his own well being, behind the darkness of that realm. Crying out to anyone that could reach him, crying out to anyone that would find him.
My Tia’s friend would later asked my primo (my Tia’s son) to place his hands on the photo. Not really sure of the outcome. It wasn’t until my Primo placed his hands on the photo that he felt a connection. A pull into the photo that scared him.
“He’s lost. He can’t find his way to the light.”, her friend stated.
“Que hago?”, My Tia replied.
“Dale su luz”, her friend replied.
Her friend continued, “El niño is afraid of the dark. He has been away from the light for too long. Place a candle on top of the photo. Do not blow the flame out under any circumstances. Give him his light. Dale su luz. Until the candle gives the last of it’s flame; will he finally be free.”
Without hesitation my Tia placed a candle on top of the photo. Praying to the gods that this boy would find his light. Watching the candle glow and burn until its very last flame disappeared. When she looked at the photo again, she felt different.
“Place your hands on the photo again”, her friend asked my primo
My primo placed his hands on the photo.
“Que sientes?“, she asked.
“Luz”, he replied.
Through the years el niño de la foto se desaparece. Slowly fading from the photograph. Maybe, after all these years he found his light. Or maybe he's just another figment of our imagination.
But aren’t we all just searching for our light? The luz that will save us from the here and the now. Becoming ghosts in our own stories.
Slowly desapareciendo, just like the boy in the photo.
Ellie Lopez is a writer/storyteller & photographer from Tracy, California.
When she's not ear hustling for the best chismes, she is telling stories on her blog.
Instagram: @lamexicanahermosa Twitter: @missellielopez