Glendy Vasquez



Glendy Vasquez is a short story writer, poet, performer, and fashion enthusiast from Maryland. She is currently an undergraduate at the University of Maryland majoring in English and Latin American Studies. She is a member of the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House program and Terpoets. She has performed spoken word for TEDxUMD, UMD Mental Health Open Mic, and many more. Being a daughter of immigrants and a first-generation, she pulls inspiration from her culture, music, and personal experiences. You can find more writings at

Twitter/Instagram: @AbajoLaLuna

The stars shone brightly against the dark blue sky, the spirits of ancestral gods and goddesses coming out to play under aliases. Underneath the star stained sky was a town that buzzed with commotion. Guitar strung notes echoed throughout the flower-lined streets. Paper decorations hung above dimly lit alleyways. Buildings were lit up with colors of pink, red, orange, creating murals of praise and glory. The air itself was alive, electrified with the presence of life and passion.

On the streets, walked the living. Men were shirtless, paint of all different colors outlining their bodies. They sported headdresses made out of exotic bird feathers. Their face painting, imitating death. They danced through the streets, life on earth a mere illusion, if only for just one night. The monotone realities of their daily lives were forgotten. Tonight, they celebrated death and rebirth. 

Skull face painting concealed the faces the young, taking up the traditions that were birthed from the oppression of their ancestors. They were taught from a young age that everyone carries death with them. It’s up to them to overcome the fear of death. For just one night they act recklessly, indulging themselves in a night of mischief, guided by the spirits of those well lived.

A small group of children ran through the streets. Their face paint smudged by the churros they were munching on earlier. A middle-aged woman called out to them, motioning with her hands for them to come back to her. “Be careful, don’t wander too far or El Catrin will come after you,” she warned the children.

The children came running back to her, all huddled close. “Who’s El Catrin?” they asked.

“The spirit of a man who wears a funny looking hat. He visits those who are ready to go celebrate in the heavens,” the woman replied. The children stared at her quizzically, though their attention lasted a mere two seconds when one of them pinched the other, setting them off running once again.

The town was home to one of the largest cemeteries in the country, where people came to visit their loved ones. Grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, and uncles all came bearing gifts of life. Gifts such as flowers, candy, alcohol, and many more which adorned the tombs. There were thousands upon thousands of candles. They covered every inch of the graves, engulfing the site in eerie shadows. 

Here it was that a woman sat by a massive bonfire, belting out her lament in a raspy voice. Only a man sat beside her, his fingers masterfully playing the guitar. The sorrowful tune carried itself through the magic-induced wind, caressing the gravestones, making the flames of the candles flicker, and making its way through the windows of a small blue home at the edge of the town…


The dim household consisted of murmurs and mourning. Candles covered every surface, their flames casting eerie shadows on the walls. There must have been a dozen or so people in the small home. Some sat on chairs outside, others were in the kitchen, meanwhile, the children played in one of the spare rooms, leaving the adults to talk. Those in the living room were gazing up at a photograph. Men passed around a bottle of tequila, their eyes bloodshot and distant. Women whispered with one another, spreading rumors, good and bad. They were coping with the newly induced pain of losing someone dear to them. 

There’s an old woman dressed in black who is kneeling in front of the altar located in the center of the room, she too, is gazing up at the frame. Her long gray hair falls over her back, like a waterfall illuminated by the moon. The wrinkles surrounding her eyes shows the aging years of a fulfilled life. She weeps, tears of a mother who had just lost her eldest son. Nobody consoles her, afraid that they might say something wrong or are just too far gone themselves.

The old woman mumbles a small prayer, wishing her dead and others a safe passage. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she rises and walks toward one the many flower vases full of marigolds. With a trembling arm, she grabs a flower, bringing it up to her worn mouth and kisses it. She closes her eyes, resting the flower against her heart. Silence, except for the hushed whispers of her family. Faintly, she hears a distant lilting voice, singing a tale of a man who lost his life chasing a woman who gave him false promises.

After a moment she senses a figure come up to her side but she doesn’t bother looking because she already knew who it was. They stand in silence for what seems like hours, the prolonged silence comfortable. The old woman speaks.

“Is it time?” she asks, opening her eyes, turning to look at the man.

He was of skin of rich caramel. He had an oddly structured face with a thick mustache. He could’ve been handsome if it weren’t for the emptiness in his dark brown eyes. He wore a black suit with a pair of sturdy boots to match. In his hands was a black top hat, exposing his jet black hair.

He nodded at the old woman, silent, his face yielding no emotion.

The old women looked around the room. Some kept working on the tequila bottles, others gazed idly at the walls. They were so consumed with grief they didn’t head her any attention, though she was positive no one in the room could see the figure standing next to her. Only those with a tragic past or future could. The old woman offered the man the flower, he looked at it for a moment then put on his hat, taking the flower.

“Give him the flower and tell him that we love him and miss him very much,” the old woman told the man. A tip of his chin was the only response she got. 

She walked over to a table and poured three shots of tequila. She gave the man a shot glass, the other she placed on the altar, next to the photograph of the smiling man.

Salud,” she said, raising her glass.

The man raised the glass up to his thin pink lips, chugging down the fiery liquid, his face still emotionless. The old women grimaced as she downed hers in small gulps. He handed back the glass to the old woman, glancing at the door, a sign that it was time to go. 

She opened her mouth, wanting to say something, anything, but came up short. So she just looked into the man's void charcoal eyes and smiled, “Goodbye, old friend.”

The man reached up with his unoccupied hand and tipped the front of his hat, he then turned on his heel. Leaving the room as quietly as he had arrived. The old woman stared after the phantom, the eerie feeling of death disappearing.

Abuela!” a young voice shrilled behind her, “Abuela, who was that?”

The old lady turned around slowly. She stared at the small boy, her expression growing horrid by the second. The young boy gave her an innocent smile, the mirror image of the many smiles she received from her deceased son.

In the background, the wind continued to carry the sorrowful lament of the graveyard singer into the small blue home.


© The Acentos Review 2020