by Raquel Castro
Edited by Julia Rios
Copyedited by Chelle Parker | Translated by Julia Rios
A long, long time ago, in a little village in the mountains of Puebla, chickens started to disappear. Every morning two or three would be missing, always from different coops, from different houses. People murmured that surely the blame lay with doña Martha, an old woman who lived on the outskirts of town. Nobody knew where she came from or what she lived on, and soon the rumor started to go around that doña Martha was a nahual: that she had made a pact with the coyotes of the mountain and that the coyotes gave her their form and their strength in the night. That in her coyote form, doña Martha went out into the town and stole chickens and that the only reason she hadn’t taken a child was because the mothers didn’t let their children go out at night.
That’s what Abel and Marcelino were talking about outside of the school one day when Fabián approached them. He was the boy who looked after don Fausto’s sheep.
“What nonsense,” Fabián scoffed. “Doña Martha lived here when she was young. She left when she got married and came back when her husband died. She doesn’t ask anybody for anything because he left her enough to take care of herself. You’re the real chickens.”
“We’re not chickens!” Abel and Marcelino complained.
“No? Then I’ll look for you at ten tonight on doña Martha’s patio.” Fabián issued the challenge and left.
Abel and Marcelino didn’t want to go, but they also didn’t want to look like chickens. So it was that later that night, they snuck out of their houses and went to the rendezvous point. When they got there, they began whispering to each other. How did Fabián know all that about doña Martha? And come to think of it, how come Fabián never came into town? Where did he live? And with whom?
“When he gets here, we’ll ask him,” the boys agreed.
At that moment, the door to doña Martha’s house opened and two silhouettes slipped out. If they could have seen them well, Abel and Marcelino would have realized that they wouldn’t be asking Fabián anything. He and doña Martha walked up to them, still in human form, but with glowing eyes and sharp fangs … like coyotes ….