It was Julio Mendoza’s lack of parental responsibility or it may have been his over abundance of self-preservation that drove him from Teresa’s house that morning. Whichever, as he was backing out of the driveway and even in his later years he could not feel any regret for his decision. When he lay dying in a gutter, alcohol poisoning being the least of his troubles at that point, he still could not help but feel that he had made the correct decision. What child would brag about an old drunk father who was a washed up fighter? None, that he could think of. Better to encourage creativity and let the kid use his imagination.
Fortunately, Julio Mendoza’s child rarely thought of him because in truth he was not raised to even worry about a father and was often busy pondering the many other mysteries of the universe. Teresa always saw to that. She had had quite similar thoughts as Julio, when he had driven away that morning, so many years ago. As she stood at the window, her hand resting on her swollen belly. She was almost feeling upbeat, quite unlike herself. It was it so much easier this way. She probably would have killed him off in a few months anyway. This was far less messy. Plus she could now use the pity of being a single mother to keep those damn old women off her back.
Many of the little town’s resident gossips had been shocked when a fine upstanding boy like Julio had taken up with that new woman in town. It would be with sorrow, that they would shake their heads in years to come when they heard news of Julio’s drug use.
‘Such a waste,’ they would say. Then conspiratorially whisper, ‘She drove him to it. She awakened it in him.’
It being the demon magic that featured in all the old stories that the town of La Luz passed down and the older generations took seriously. However, they were incorrect. But not completely. For that is what had driven Teresa into the town in the first place and to Julio Mendoza specifically. It was the lack of restraint and amount of power that he had bubbling right under the surface that was so attractive. She didn’t, no, couldn’t, tell exactly what it was but she had an idea. Wild magic was hard to come by and this area of New Mexico had a history of very potent strains. The magic had been bound, of course, long ago, by some well-meaning meddler. Try as she might Teresa had not been able to break it free and siphon it away. There was not much that Teresa couldn’t do, but the spell keeping Mendoza’s magic in place was stronger than hers. But wary be those who repeated that aloud.
Teresa had raged for weeks after being unable to break it free for her own use. It was only when she’d found the loophole that she was able continue practicing her craft as calmly, as she had before. She smiled now and looked down at the boy growing within her. And it was a boy. She had told Mendoza she was sure it was a girl. Men just didn’t have the same commitment to females as they did to their own sex. The boy would be trouble enough for her on his own without having to try and get rid of his father.
This was why she’d never had a child before, too troublesome. Many of the women she’d grown up with, had had daughters with aspirations of immortality in passing down their name. Teresa didn’t need that. She had created her own name, that would forever live in infamy. She’d forever live in infamy, if she had anything to say about it. And she did. Research and experiments for decades had produced the extended life she had now. And she knew she was doing quite well. How many handsome early 20-somethings were drawn to 60-year-old women? But she knew it wouldn’t last indefinitely, this youth that she had preserved. It was why she needed the magic. More of it. With that, according to her calculations, she’d be able to make the switch to full immortality. Her dreams would be fulfilled.
Her son was born at home, under a harvest moon at its zenith, in the still room of her house. She knew that all the pain was worth it, when she felt the power and magic crackling around him. The promise that his magic wouldn’t reach his peak until he came into adulthood was the only thing that prevented her from draining him right there. Another 18 years wouldn’t kill her and she’d be able to maintain her youthful appearance for most of it.
She home schooled her son and taught him anything she could think of to enhance his magic. She didn’t need his skills to be honed, just his power to be strong when she took it.
As he grew, he was a continuous disappointment to Teresa. He didn’t want to kill any animals for sacrifices. He detested potion making and enchantments. He wanted to go outside, plant flowers, and play with the little girl next door. Teresa’s teeth began to pain her from grinding her teeth in frustration. Eighteen years, she kept saying. Eighteen years in exchange for eternity. And for eighteen years Teresa joylessly and without any love, raised her son to be the most magically powerful man in the southwest.
It was only a week before the maturing ceremony, that he came to tell her that he’d completely fallen in love. It was with Angela, who’d grown up next door to them. He loved Angela for years and they had gone to the catholic church in town and been married. Sensing that Teresa would not approve they had waited to tell her until afterwards. Teresa being so involved with the preparations to siphon away her son’s soul and power had not seen the signs and now it was too late.
This was the last straw. In a fit of rage, she entranced him and dragged him downstairs and began the ritual. He couldn’t move but watched in a sadly unsurprising horror as his mother prepared to steal away everything from him. The only regret he was having was sorrow that would plague Angela. He would have spared her any pain if he could.
Teresa muttered triumphantly through each step of the process but stood dumbfounded when the final enchantment didn’t succeed. She poked and prodded her son before she realized the problem. Her scream of frustration echoed through the town and off the surrounding mountains. With unadulterated wrath she turned to the boy she’d reared and raised her hand to rip his very heart from his chest. It was at that point, that she noticed she was on fire. She’d been planning on having her son’s extra power to conclude the ceremony. But she didn’t have that now and the energy she’d built up could no longer be controlled and was consuming her. It was only a matter of seconds, before she burst with a small spark and then all that was left of Teresa was a pile of ash.
Her son, now able to move on his own accord, shook his head sadly. He’d always suspected she’d let all that ambition destroy her. He’d been hoping, that upon hearing the news that she’d be a grandmother, she’d be able to let go of some of that. Some people just held too tightly to plans from the past, just out of spite and habit. He brushed the ashes into a lead lined jar and sealed it. He’d see to them later.
“Siempre?” Angela cried as he exited the cellar. “Are you ok? What did your mother say? I heard the scream.”
Siempre looked down at Angela, whom he loved with his every being and thought of the future with her and his beloved daughter. It was going to be a girl. He could already feel the magic growing in her tiny body. He would need to teach her to be careful with it and give the power she carried the proper respect. His thoughts returned to the present and he smiled at his wife, “Well, she just burst with happiness.”