I HAVE A STORY I wrote in my mind one night in Mexico when I couldn't sleep. I've brought it back for you, along with a picture of the woman I imagined living out the story.
It's unusual. It's not quite finished. It's a dream story.
It was never my intention to come to Todos Santos to die. My only desire was to live here with Roberto and bear his children.
I came to the dusty, sleepy little town, me, Elida Guitterez de Samosa, against my parents' wishes. They wanted me and Roberto to raise their grandchildren in La Paz, but Roberto had friends and work in Todos Santos.
Because of this and my love for him, my spirit now lingers in the 100-year-old rubber tree in the town square. I reside in its lower branches, where I am always cold - a thing I could never stand in life, being cold.
My teeth chatter. I shiver and my skin is blue. I am a pitiful spirit. All those who stay too long in the rubber tree's shade only grow sad and wish to leave.
My death seemed to last forever. Roberto warned me about going too near the water, but I was so happy to see the ocean after our long trip from La Paz. I walked in and my damp skirt slapped around my legs.
The sun was bright and warm. I loved the feel of it on my face and shoulders. The turquoise stones in my necklace picked up the warmth and held it, just as they had held the cool desert air last night.
Smiling, his white teeth flashing, Roberto called out again to be cautious. But had I ever been careful? When I was small my mother said everything I did was dangerous: horseback riding, diving from the cliffs, running too fast on the rocky paths. As I grew older she forced me to give up my girlish ways and slow down like a lady would do. "Gentil. Elegante," she said. "Mas elegante."
But there were other ways I found to be dangerous. Roberto was one of them.
We met in the plaza one festival night and separating us after that was difficult. My parents forbade us to be alone but we always found ways around their rules.
His kisses and touch excited me beyond any high dive or horseback ride I had ever taken. Being with him and experiencing the smell of him, the warm, musky maleness of him, and behaving "gentil" was maddening. Odors I had once found unpleasant now made my knees weak. I wanted to dip my hands into his harsh underarm smell and rub it all over my own body too. I loved the taste of the salt on his neck. Every taste of him I took made Roberto more and more a part of me.
There was always more to anticipate however. The hardness of him pressed close told me that. I knew it instinctively and had certainly heard the laughter and whispers among my mother and aunties about the pleasures of the bedroom.
Those pleasures, our eventual marriage ... all of it seemed to pass so quickly, but as I said before, my death seemed to take forever.
One minute smiling, laughing. I saw Roberto reach out and I took one more step toward the water and plunged into the depths of the Phantom's mouth. He swallowed me in his deep blue-green jaws, his lips nibbling at the hem of my skirt.
Bubbles tickled my toes and legs as he drew me down ever deeper. Overhead I could see the light of the sky moving farther away. I fought it. I didn't give up to the Phantom easily. I had too much to live for to go stay with this monster forever.
I saw the future - Roberto in his fishing boat coming home at the end of the day as the sun set in an orange sky. I saw our children playing, their smiles things of beauty that touched my heart so that, even though I was underwater, tears came to my eyes and burned.
My strong arms reached up and beat down, shooting me away from the Phantom and I came near the surface. My head bobbed above the water and Roberto was beside me with a splash.
"Elida, hold me," he said.
Those were the last words I heard him say. He was gone, then I was too.
The Phantom tide sucked both of us under with him. Separated, I have never seen Roberto again. Not here, in the cold, under the rubber tree. Not ever in this dim freezing afterlife that must be hell. Where the humans who pass by chatter and laugh but their voices are silent to me. Now and then, I think I hear a noise, but it's only an echo, a memory, briefly come to life.
Inside my belly the ghost child Roberto planted never grows. The moon rises and sets. I shiver and moan.
Life is funny, isn't it? If half of what one wishes for comes to pass, one should be happy. I got half of mine and yet I still ache for more. Would I give up what I've had for the touch of the warm, real world. I don't know. So, so funny, life is. Quien sabe?