Why do I have to take care of mom, hu? Why is it me stuck in the house with her?
It ain't here either, Ramon. you're just like all those other sorry men. just take off and leave women behind....
Who's going to take care of mom, clean, and with what money. I ain't doing it, Ramon.
You’re off in California and never send a God dang cent.
What the hell is that?
Children, children, children.
He didn’t call after that. Soon he was heading to another city and by the time he reached Canada he didn’t bother sending postcards. He figured he would, one day, but things got in the way and years later he thought it would be even worse if he tried to phone.
That’s when Ramon hears the squeal. A high-pitched noise. It’s a shriek, a moan, a sound he’s never heard before. He turns and looks and it is the old woman, the one he’s nicknamed Llorona, pushing her shopping cart.
My children. My children.
Ramon walks faster as he hears the sound getting louder. He feels his limbs go numb as he sprints all the way home.
I've lost my children.
Everywhere Ramon went all he could picture was her face and what she could do to him if he ever caught him. All he could think about is how his mother could calm every nerve with simply holding him.
She is sitting next to a heap of garbage in the middle of the alley, water pouring down her shoulders. She clutches rags and dirt and pieces of plastic against her chest, her head bowed and her face hidden behind the screen of her hair.
She could be his mother. She might be, for all he knows. He lost her photograph a long time ago and can’t recall what she looks like anymore. The alley is a river. He goes to her, sinks into the muck, sinks into the silvery water. He embraces her as she strokes his hair.