by Tom Remer Williams
According to Mestizo legend X’Tabay is a beautiful, blonde-haired spirit
who emerges from the jungle at night, luring men away to their deaths.
She comes in the night when the house is sleeping and reaches my
window without raising dogs. Her fingernails strum on the mosquito
netting; there’s a wild-haired figure in the paneless frame.
Candlelight sends geckos scuttling and Pech is at the door easing the
bolt. X’tabay, he says, like he’s woken to a nightmare, but I tell him
she isn’t and that he should go back to bed.
Her eyes are raw from so much crying, her hair’s aflame in the humid
night. Side by side we sit in the shadows, and she tells me again
about her loathing and fears, about nightmares in the daytime and the
Larium frenzy of night. She’s been here too long, and asks if she can
lie with me. Please can you hold me, just for a while? We know that I
won’t, and that I’ll walk her home.
The moon is gibbous as we cross the silent Northern Highway, then hug
the fringes of the jungle as far as the place where she stays. It is
the largest house here, and the steel tendrils poking through the flat
roof promise a future storey.
As we draw near we wake the geese.
Tom Remer Williams would write more stories if he rode his bike a bit less.