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The Neon Bruja
Words by Leza Cantoral
Images by Gretchen Gales
She was always there. You always knew she was there. She never left.
In dark times, she is easier to find. We find ourselves in the darkest of times.
It’s all downhill from here.
When I first saw her, she was wrought iron. She was crying tears of blood on a sunny day. No one saw it but me.
The horse head. The dead eyes.
You know she probably wants to eat you.
The neon trees drip like acid. Stormy skies in a parallel universe.
Upsidedown darkness. Glaring in my mirror. What the hell is this. It’s like a fuge. Why is this death’s head stuck on my very much alive head?
You are all the bad things. Darkness. Darkness. Darkness.
Far as the eye can see.
You killed yourself. You remember that part.
Her neon eyes of death. Did you call her or did she come to you?
Her face. Do you see through it?
Someone you know, maybe. Someone familiar. Your face. Their face.
The neon bruja ain’t picky but you looked especially tempting to her. Your meat, your sadness. A narcotic for her. Pure death, as pure as death could be.
You’re driving your car & everything seems fine, then it jumps & you know you’re fucked. And then you’re dead & it all happened so fast.
& now you’re dead.
& it’s sort of boring.
You carry your neon bruja amulet with you wherever you go. You bring death. It’s your job now. It’s not personal. It is important for you to be the bruja of your own unlife.
Once I died, I entered her dominion. She rules with blackmail.
The neon bruja is a patchwork gangsta witch.
She has a neon cat & the neon cat is a shapeshifter. Sometimes cat sometimes snake, wolf, or spider. The neon cat feeds on you. You become catfood every day. The witch smiles at you with her toothy grin.
She has all her teeth.
Your brain is her soufflé. It is ice cream & all kinds of other screams.
Once you’ve crossed over you never make it back. Once you die in her name you are her bitch for all eternity. We are legion. We wreck the lives of men for fun. When the neon bruja calls your name you’d better know what you’re gonna say.
I told her my name was Peaches so now that’s my official emissary of death name. Not very threatening, I know.
My death, my peach cobbler. Death by dessert in the desert. The bruja always comes at night after you’ve passed out after too many roasted marshmallows & vodka shots. She can smell the candy & the liquor on your breath. She wants to eat you up.
The neon bruja is not interested in you. She just wants her cut. She’s like the Heidi Fleiss of the afterworld. A hard ass bitch. A hustler. You might say to yourself “I’d never let myself get hustled to death.”
Don’t be so sure.
She first came to me back in Mexico. Back then I was often being visited by extraterrestrial beings, for lack of a better word. When I left Mexico, I thought I had left her behind along with them, but I had not. I was stuck with that ice hearted bitch. And now it is forever, since I am already dead. My sins follow me. My sins have legs.
Black dogs run in packs. You know where all the dead girls are? They smell you. I smell you. We work for her now.
We all killed ourselves somehow.
For me it was a car accident. I wanted to die, but it worked. I did not expect it to work. I regretted it the instant it happened but it was too late.
I crossed over. I was running from my past but I did not really think about what I was running to.
I looked back at my life & was not impressed & was ashamed of my moments of weakness.
I am ashamed of my weaknesses. It was what kept me from everything. I let bad things happen because I was too scared to face up to my demons. I kept my life on pause so the bruja wouldn’t come out but she came anyway.
Bruja bitch ain’t taking no for an answer.
She’s got a heart of coal that only burns when she’s hunting. She finds you wherever you might be. If you are hiding at work or in the woods she will find you. She will start to talk to you, through mirrors, in your dreams, in your moments between terrors.
Broken skull. Bright lights. Neverland.
Who are you?
She gets in through the cracks.
Why is there so much death around you. You want answers?
You know you’re rich when you’re buying white suitcases & you know you’re a bitch when you are packing them up with his limbs wrapped in plastic. A leg. His beautiful head. You sawed him up in your bathtub. You are not all cold. You cried the entire time. Blood splattering on your face as you saw your lover’s body apart. He should not have cheated. You warned him. You warned him that bad things would happen. He did not believe you & now look at him
all in pieces.
You watch murder shows to figure out how to get away with it without getting caught. Lover lover, how black you turn. Lover lover, rotting in your bed. Lover lover you loved me once but now you are dead to me & dead irl.
How do you hide your past?
You are now a mistress of death so it really doesn’t matter.
You’re a killer queen. You know people are scared of you. You know you have a bad reputation.
You never had control over your own reality. She was always there, watching you sleep, watching you watch yourself. She knows the day you’re going to die. She starts chasing you 10 years ahead of your death date. Every day the neon bruja becomes something you expect to see. She is getting you ready for death. By the time it comes, it is almost boring, like an arranged marriage. You fight at first but finally succumb.
I was ordinary. I was a pissy teenager who transitioned into a pissy adult.
Me & my charmed life
& you’re next
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