Posts Tagged ‘puerto rico’

At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her–her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.

The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.

But nothing, not even the stunning splendor of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…

Dream Realm Awards Finalist!


“Mayra Calvani is a masterful storyteller… Dark Lullaby is complex and compelling…” –Habitual Reader

“Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end.” –ePinions

“Dark Lullaby is a page-turner. A horror story from the top shelf! You’ll love it.” –5 stars from Euro-Reviews

“This is a terrific horror…” –Harriet Klausner

“Dark Lullaby will capture you with its rich descriptions, its exotic location, and the need to uncover the dark secrets hidden within its pages.” –Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection


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by Mayra Calvani
Zumaya Publications
Release date: February 2009
Print ISBN: 978-1-934841-18-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-934841-19-8
Parody/Satire/Women’s Fiction
Available on Amazon and as ebook from EReader.com

Sunstruck has its own site at: www.sunstruckthenovel.blogspot.com


Twenty-four year old Daniella is an architecture student living with her narcissistic artist boyfriend in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Abandoned by her father at an early age, Daniella always falls for the wrong type of man.

Her most enduring male relationship so far is with her 30-pound Turkish angora cat. Thankfully, Daniella’s mother is always there to offer a shoulder.

Several strange mysteries are threaded through Daniella’s everyday life: her ex-husband, Ismael, has just opened an outlandish hotel for animal lovers that has her distraught; Ismael’s wife, a rich woman Daniella fondly refers to as “Lady Dracula,” has some gruesome ways to keep her skin looking young; Daniella’s mother is founding a revolutionary, feminist society called The Praying Mantises; the island’s national forest is being depleted of hallucinogenic mushrooms; meanwhile, young girls are disappearing and there’s a nut loose dressed as Zorro slashing the rear ends of women who wear miniskirts.

Oppressed by all these crazed, eccentric characters, Daniella feels herself falling into an abyss. Then something horrendous happens, making Daniella wake from her stupor and take charge of her life.


“Salvador Dali meets Terry Gilliam in a surrealistic romp that skewers the society of dilettantes and artistic poseurs. Reading Sunstruck is like having one of those long, convoluted dreams that seem to be totally logical until they twist off into another dimension entirely. Monty Python’s Flying Circus would be proud.” -Blue Iris Journal

“Brilliant” –MyShelf.com

“Dark and quirky humor coupled with quixotic characters adds to the surprising mix found in Sunstruck… I’ve never read a book remotely like it. Everything from the humorously weird to the actue macabre can be found between these covers, and then some.” -Laurel Johnson, Midwest Book Review

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Hi all,

I was recently interviewed by NY Times Bestselling author Marta Acosta on her popular blog, Vampire Wire.

The link is http://www.vampirewire.blogspot.com

I’ll be giving away two free copies to two lucky winners who leave a comment.

Thanks in advance! It’s nice to be the interviewee once in a while 🙂


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Welcome to the fourth day of the Women, Words and Wisdom Blog Tour!

The winner of Lara’s $10 Starbucks gift card is SHELL!!!!!!!

Initially I was planning on posting a short story titled, “Killing the Writer’s Block: A Story,” but then I changed my mind. While it has to do with writing and women’s wisdom, I think it’s propably too ‘kinky’ for this blog tour (sorry about that!) So instead I’m going to post an excerpt from my chick-lit novel, Sunstruck, coming next spring from Zumaya Publications. The novel takes place in hot and steamy San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At the bottom of the excerpt I’ve put a question. Send me the answer to mgcalvani@hotmail.com for a chance to win an ebook copy of one of my books, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, Dark Lullaby, or Embraced by the Shadows (your choice!)

Good luck and I hope you enjoy the excerpt!


When Daniella steps out of the shower she finds Tony throwing a big spoon of Quick into a glass of milk. He begins to stir the milk desperately, as if he can’t wait to drink it.

“How’s the painting going?” Daniella says. She’s wrapped in a bright green towel and her long damp hair smells of apples-and-cinnamon shampoo.

Tony glances at Daniella. “You smell like apple pie,” he says. He tilts his head back and noisily gulps the chocolate milk like a barbarian.

It’s Wednesday night and even though both windows are open, the air feels hot and muggy inside the apartment.

Commando is sitting on the windowsill, staring down at the passersby on the street with a disdainful expression on his face. He seems to be thinking, “I used to be sacred, you simple ordinary mortals. Three thousand years ago people used to pay me tribute at the Temple of Bubastes. Those were the days of glory! I used to be revered and adored and adorned with precious stones and mummified and buried with kings.”

Commando throws Daniella a quick, resentful look. Ever since Daniella gave him that rubber mouse, two weeks ago, Commando has been acting funny. Daniella believes she hurt his feelings when she gave him that rubber mouse. Commando had looked at it with an incredulous, insulted look on his face. Daniella had clearly read the indignation in his eyes: “What do you think I am? Stupid? You think I can’t tell the difference between a real and a synthetic mouse?” But Daniella hadn’t wanted to hurt his feelings. She had just wanted him to have a rubber mouse.

“I don’t know,” Tony says, putting the empty glass in the sink and going back to his surrealist painting, propped up on a worn wooden easel in the middle of his incredibly messy work area. From where Daniella stands his work area is so messy it’s almost frightening—a sharp contrast to the rest of the studio, which she keeps spotless and reeking of Lysol. Daniella suspects this dual, surreal state of her apartment symbolizes her life.

Tony squints into the canvas. He grabs the palette and brush from the table and once again submerges himself in his work.

“What do you think?” he whispers, not caring in the least for an answer. He’s wearing nothing but white jockey shorts and white socks. Dear God, he’s so hairy. An alien humanoid or a werewolf making art.

Fifi Santos is going to exhibit Tony’s paintings this weekend. That’s why Tony has been working frantically during the nights for the past few weeks. He’s also been edgy and annoying. Okay, so an art exhibit can bring a lot of stress and pressure into your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like a Neanderthal.

Daniella herself has been working on an important project for her design class. She’s designing a huge modern shopping center, nine stories high, with inner gardens and water fountains and a big roller-skating rink There’s even a skyscraping tower built in the center of it, with a gambling casino, a bar, and restaurant at the top. The walls of the tower are made of glass so that people can see the view as they go up inside the elevator, but outside, the entire structure is painted in a Day-Glo pink-and-black checkerboard pattern.

“An ambitious task, no doubt,” her professor had said.

Daniella had scowled at him. It’s a disadvantage to be in a class were there are only four females and more than thirty males If you’re of normal intelligence, they condescend and patronize you like you’re some sort of pet who dared to dream too high. But if you prove you have above-average brains, it’s even worse. You become a sociological curiosity. She’s still trying to figure out in what category she’s in.

Daniella’s stomach is making strange persistent noises. She opens the refrigerator and studies the possibilities. A half-eaten bag of nacho chips, a jar of mustard, a small bowl with some kind of unrecognizable, stale moldy food in it, two cans of Budweiser, a box of Cocoa Crispies, a plate of hummous Tony made yesterday. She would like to eat the hummous but there’s no pita bread and she can’t eat hummous without pita bread.

“There’s nothing here,” she says, not surprised.

She reaches for the box of Cocoa Crispies, but when she pops a handful into her mouth she notices they’re not crispy anymore. She’s supposed to meet Mari Carmen and some friends from the university at El Patio de Sam at eight-thirty. She’ll have to stop at the supermarket on her way back. There’s one in El Condado that’s open till midnight.

Trying to forget about her hunger, she takes her underwear out of the freezer and starts getting dressed (she got the idea from a Marilyn Monroe film—an ingenious way to fight the heat!) She’ll eat something out.

She glances at Tony and frowns. She can’t help feeling a twinge of envy. She wishes she could concentrate on her studies as much as he concentrates on his paintings. When he paints, the world stops rotating. Right now he isn’t even aware she’s in the room. Yes, she has to give him credit for that. He’s hardworking. All day long struggling with Los Chinitos, all night long struggling with surrealist nightmares. He even runs an hour every morning before going to work. If it weren’t for the drugs, he’d be a saint.

“I’ll stop at the supermarket on my way back. Do you want anything special?” she says when she’s ready to leave, her hand clasped around the doorknob.

After what seems like an eternity, Tony grunts, “Huh?”

“I asked you if you want anything special. I’m going to buy some stuff on the way back.”
He looks up at her. Suddenly he seems surprised, as if she’s an apparition from the lower world. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t believe this. I told you three times. You were not listening to me.”

Tony tries to run a hand through his hair, but his hair is so tangled the attempt is unsuccessful. “I was listening to you.”

Daniella folds her arms across her chest. “All right. Where am I going?”

Tony grins. He doesn’t have an idea where she’s going. He puts the palette and brush back on the table—he’s back on planet earth. He says, “Okay, okay. You win. I wasn’t listening to you. I know I’m an ass. Now can you tell me where you’re going dressed like that?”

“What do you mean?” She’s wearing a jade-green mini dress and high-heeled black pumps, her brandy-carrot hair falling like a long satin cape down her back.

“I mean where are you going dressed like that? Don’t you know that wearing clothes like that at night can be damn dangerous? We’re not in Disneyland. Don’t you read the papers? Are you trying to get yourself raped and killed or what?”

He looks like he’s getting angry, which in a way pleases Daniella because it shows that he cares for her, but in another way mortifies her because it shows that he’s deeply influenced by the chauvinist pigs of Latin America.

“There’s nothing wrong with what I’m wearing,” Daniella protests. “How come all of the sudden you’re so interested in what I’m wearing or where I’m going? Five minutes ago you were hardly aware of my existence.”

Tony sighs. “Are you going to tell me where you’re going or not?”

Commando seems to realize there’s more action going on inside the room than out on the street. He jumps down from the window sill and leaps up on the bed, settling himself on one of the pillows. Apparently elated with this new turn of events, his odd-colored eyes shift from Tony to Daniella, from Tony to Daniella. He yawns.

“I’m going to El Patio de Sam,” Daniella snaps. “Mari Carmen is waiting for me.”

“Mari Carmen can go to hell. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you read the papers? There’s some nut loose slashing women’s asses.” He rummages around the room for the newspaper, but his efforts prove futile. “Damn it! You can’t find anything in this damn place.”

Daniella wants to tell him that if he can’t find anything it’s because of his continuous messiness, but instead she keeps her mouth shut.

“This damn place is filled with cat hairs. No wonder I feel so worn down all the time. I’m inhaling and eating cat hairs. And that cat is Turkish. Do you know what caused the bubonic plague in Europe?” He puts his hands on his hips and stares at Daniella, demanding an answer.

Daniella stares back at him, perplexed. What does the bubonic plague have to do with what they’re talking?

He answers his own question triumphantly. “Turkish rats! That’s what caused the bubonic plague. Turkish rats!” He finally collapses on the bed and starts rubbing his forehead.

Daniella shakes her head. “You look ridiculous, talking about Turkish rats in your underwear. And when was the last time you shaved, anyway? You look like a terrorist. I’m going. I’ll see you later.”

“Wait!” Tony says, suddenly seeing the newspaper tucked under the pillow where Commando is sitting. “It’s here, I found it.” He tries to reach for it, but Commando gives him an icy, threatening hiss, forcing Tony to pull back his hand.

“I can’t believe this is happening. And he’s sitting on my pillow. How did I end up sharing my pillow with a psychotic cat? I’m going to have that paper, you son of a bitch,” Tony says. He snatches the newspaper from under the pillow just in time to see one furious paw with five sharp claws coming at him. “Shit! I’m going to kill you, you son of a bitch!”

Commando swiftly jumps down from the bed and Tony starts swatting him about the room.

“Stop it! Are you crazy?” Daniella says, blocking Tony’s way in order to protect Commando.

“Look at my hand! It’s the hundredth time that cat scratches me! I’m going to kill him!”

“If you do something to that cat, I’m the one who’s going to kill you. Look at yourself. You’re acting hysterical.” She examines his hand. “It’s nothing, Tony. Just a little scratch. Do you want some orange juice? I’ll bring you some juice. And I hate it when you talk like that. You know I can’t stand foul language.”

“I don’t want any orange juice. Bring me a beer.”

“Juice would be a lot better.”

“I said I want a beer, Mother Theresa.”

Daniella scowls.

Tony snickers. He can feel the small wound on his hand stinging, throbbing. He can see it clearly, the ferocious battle going on inside his body. Thousands of microbes and other single-cell organisms rushing into his bloodstream and shouting “divide and conquer!” and some of his cells, the brave ones, attacking the nasty intruders, the others running away like cowards. Human beings are so defenceless. No fangs. No claws. No fur. Only a squashy, flabby, slimy, disgusting-to-look-at mass of grey cells floating inside their heads. Good for what? Thinking about sex and nuclear weapons.
Daniella hands him the beer and in less than fifteen seconds Tony drains the whole can.

“This is the reward I get for trying to protect you—being attack by a deranged cat that probably has rabies.”

“You know he doesn’t have rabies.”

“You should see the way he acts when you’re not here. I’m telling you, he only pretends to be good in your presence. When I’m alone he takes pleasure in hiding and darting out to attack my leg when I walk by. The animal is diabolically possessed, I tell you! Or at least brain-damaged.”

“Will you listen to yourself?” She raises her eyebrows. “You were really trying to protect me?”

“Look at this.” He shows her the newspaper.

Daniella reads the headlines: ZORRO STRIKES AGAIN!

“This is the third time in three weeks and the victims were all wearing mini skirts at the time of the attack. The stitches they put on the third victim—a rich lady who was out from a health club on her way to her car—got infected and she’s suing the whole damn hospital. They say she won’t be able to sit for months and she’ll be permanently scarred for life. I don’t want any lunatic slashing your—”

“Stop whining!”

“On top of that, young girls seem to be disappearing everywhere and no one knows why. This island is degenerating into hell itself.”

“Since when are you so concerned about other people? No one’s going to do anything to me.” She tosses the newspaper back on the bed. “Really, Tony. I can’t let an article in the newspaper tell me how to dress. I like mini skirts. In most parts of the world women wear mini skirts and live to see their grandchildren.” She starts toward the door. “I’m going to El Patio de Sam and I’ll have a nice time with my friend and then I’ll stop at the market. If you’re always so worn down is because of malnutrition, not because of any cat hairs.”

“Mari Carmen is radical. I can’t imagine what you two talk about. You have nothing in common.”

“Just like you and I, Tony darling?” she asks sweetly.

Tony sighs. “Don’t go.”

I turn around. There he is, standing in his underwear in the middle of the room with his arms extended toward me, a pleading, puppy-like look in his eyes. I should ignore him, teach him a lesson and walk out the door. But I just linger here. And then he takes advantage of my momentary confusion and slowly begins to approach me, like a cat stalking a bird. With one hand he pulls me toward him and with the other he curls a lock of my hair around his finger. He rubs his cheek against mine and I feel the scratchy stiffness of his beard and smell the musky scent of his flesh. I must be in a trance because I feel as though I’m not here. I mean, I’m here but I’m not here.

“Don’t go,” Tony whispers.

“Why should I stay here? So that you can go back to your painting and ignore me?”

“I won’t ignore you, I promise. And the painting is almost finished. After I’m done with it we’ll cuddle up in bed and watch TV. There’s a horror movie tonight.”

“Even if I don’t meet Mari Carmen, I still have to get some food. We don’t have anything to eat.”
“Okay, go and get some wine and beer and when you get back we’ll have a little party. What do you say?”

“We need some food, Tony.” Daniella peers into his eyes, uneasy. Lately Tony never wants to eat solid food and has manipulated her again with his luring, animal charms.

“Whatever you say, little fox. Bring some Ben & Jerry’s, cookie dough.”

When Daniella comes back from the supermarket she finds Tony sprawled on the bed and Commando stretched out on top of his stomach, placidly licking his paws.

Tony props himself up on his elbows. His pupils are fixed and dilated and strangely glittery. He looks comatose.

Daniella stands by the door, paralyzed, each arm holding a bag of groceries. The stereo is playing Metallica and on the TV an old woman is stabbing a man in the chest with a pair of knitting needles.
Tony smiles and raises an arm towards her. He’s offering her something. She can’t see what it is but she knows what it is.

“Would you like a one-way ticket to hell?” he says.

QUESTION: Why doesn’t Tony want Daniella to wear mini skirts?

Send the answer to mgcalvani@hotmail.com. The winner will be announced on Caridad Pineiro’s blog tomorrow!

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Déjà Vu
By Mayra Calvani

Standing on the sidewalk of the Boulevard del Valle, Amanda looked towards the sea. The splash of the waves against the rocks below resonated in the air. She could taste the salty tang sharply on her tongue, feel the cool breeze tousling her hair. She hugged her arms to stop the goose bumps.
Tonight Old San Juan vibrated with a magical quality. Twinkling multi-colored lights and shimmering garlands adorned shop windows and balconies. Christmas trees glowed from inside the flats that lined the street.
Amanda admired the sea a little longer; it was late and she had to go home. She and her husband were giving a party. They always did on Christmas Eve. She was stalling and she knew it, though she didn’t know exactly why.
Abruptly someone bumped into her. She turned to see a little boy running down the street. She froze for a second before realizing what had happened—he had stolen her handbag.
“Hey!” she said, running after him. “Come back here!”
A sensation of unreality grabbed her. She saw the little boy running in slow motion, his dark curls floating behind him as if there were no gravity. An intense feeling of déjà vu shook her to the core. She had to catch up with him. She had to stop him!
“Stop!” she shouted, breathless.
Everything happened in a matter of seconds. The boy glanced behind his shoulder just as he tried to cross the street. A fast approaching car was coming in his direction. Amanda reached for the boy’s shirt and pulled him harshly to the sidewalk and away from the street. The boy struggled against her, but she held on, a wave of relief flooding through her.
“Stop that. The policeman will see us,” Amanda said, her eyes on the strolling officer across the street. Oddly, he looked bored, as if he had not noticed anything unusual.
The boy relaxed under her grip and for the first time she had a chance to look into his face. He had shoulder-length curly hair and large brown eyes surrounded by thick lashes. Under the streetlight his chestnut curls glowed. He couldn’t have been older than eight. In spite of his arrogant attitude, he reminded her of a cherub.
“What do you think you were doing? Trying to get yourself killed? That car almost ran into you!” she said.
“Are you going to have me arrested?” he said, lifting his chin.
Amanda glanced at the officer, who was now far away. She sighed. “Are you going to give me back my bag?”
Looking oddly calm, he gave her the bag.
“Thank you,” Amanda said drily.
“Can you let me go now?”
Amanda realized she was still holding on to him. Confusion and fear filled her being. She didn’t want to let go.
“I’m not going away,” the boy said enigmatically.
Their eyes locked momentarily.
“Oh… all right…” She let go. “What’s your name?”
“Why did you try to steal my bag?”
His small, thin shoulders lifted in a shrug. “Why do poor kids steal rich people’s bags?”
She decided to ignore his wisecrack. “You should go home. It’s late. Your parents must be worried.”
“Nah, they never worry.”
They began to walk side by side.
“Let me bring you home.”
“I don’t want to go home. There’s always too much fighting in there.”
“It’s Christmas Eve. I bet your mom is preparing a nice meal.”
“I don’t want to go home,” he said coldly, stopping her in her tracks.
Amanda looked at him. She was not ready to say goodbye. “Well, do you want to come to my house? We can have something to eat together.”
“Do you live in a mansion?”
“You could say that.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“I have a dog,” Amanda said.
His expression brightened. “What’s his name?”
“Noah. Well?”
Alfonsito seemed thoughtful as he stuffed his hands inside his pockets and resumed his walk. “I’d like to meet Noah.”


At Amanda’s home the party was at full swing. Guests in sophisticated attire were gathered around the pool with drinks and cigarettes in their hands. Some couples danced. Others ate by a long buffet table. Aguinaldos poured out of hidden speakers.
Amanda led Alfonsito to the back of the garden and towards the back door of the kitchen.
“Do you know all these people?” he asked.
“Yes and no.” She halted momentarily to look at the guests. “My husband is an important man. These are mostly his co-workers.” Her voice had turned sad, bitter. “ I’ve always been sort of a hermit.”
“What’s that?”
“I like being alone.”
“My husband is a very important man.”
“So you said.”
They looked to the kitchen as a large blond dog stormed out the door and dashed into their direction.
“Noah!” Amanda said, smiling for the first time that night. “Come here, boy! Let me introduce you to someone.”
She bent over to stroke him and scratch him behind the ears. Alfonsito laughed as he joined in the petting. Noah whimpered as if he couldn’t have enough of Amanda’s affection.
“Let’s go inside,” Amanda said.
She led him to a table at the far end of the kitchen, while the servants continued their duties on the other side of the room. After bringing an assortment of food and pastries to the table, Amanda sat across from Alfonsito. Noah lay at her feet, his tail still swaging from contentment.
“Go ahead, eat,” she said.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“I’ll just have a drink,” she said, lifting a glass of wine as if in toast.
Watching her drinking, his expression turned sad. “Do you have any kids?” he asked.
She shook her head. “I’ve always wanted kids, but I can’t have any.”
“Oh…” He began to eat. “Hmm… I had forgotten what this tasted like.”
“Guineitos en escabeche is one of my favorites, too. Doesn’t your mom make it?”
“Not lately.”
After Alfonsito finished eating, Amanda said, “I probably should bring you back now. It’s late. Your mom must be worried.”
Amanda leaned over to stroke Noah, who had started whimpering again as if sensing her parting.


Amanda and Alfonsito stood by the door of the small house which was his home.
Alfonsito looked somber. Amanda was about to knock when he stopped her and said, “Don’t. Let’s just go in.”
Inside the small living room there was no Christmas tree; no lights or garlands or poinsettias.
A woman sat alone in the dark, her back to them. She had something in her hands.
Alfonsito took Amanda’s hand and together they approached the woman until they stood over her shoulder.
“Don’t cry, Mami,” he whispered.
“What’s that in her hands?” Amanda asked.
Then she saw it. It was a photo of Alfonsito.
Amanda turned to him, the floor shifting under her feet, the room swirling around her. She opened her mouth, but no words came out.
“I died one year ago,” he said.
Amanda took a step back. “No…”
She moved away from the crying woman and away from Alfonsito. His big eyes shimmered with emotion as he extended a hand towards Amanda.
“Come. I’ll show you,” he said.
“You can’t be dead. You’re here, with me, talking to me. You just played with my dog, ate at my kitchen. You can’t be…”


In the late hour the Old San Juan cemetery was cold and windy and Amanda could hear the waves crashing against the rocks below.
“Where are you taking me?” she said.
Now it was his turn to hold on to her. “You have to know, Amanda. You have to let go.”
She shook her head, tears flowing down her cheeks. “You’re going to show me your grave, is that it?”
His small hand pressed tighter around hers, his nails digging into her.
“There,” he said, pushing her in front of a tombstone.
She read her name engraved on the stone and covered her face with her hands, while all her life, all the memories rushed through her mind until that last very moment. “No! No! No!”
“Think about it. Why is it that no one can see or hear us—no one except Noah? How do you think we moved from here to your house without a car?”
“You have to let go,” he said.
“No!” She fell to her knees, wallowing in the knowledge, guilt and pain.
“You’ll be here forever without freedom or peace until you forgive yourself. Look at me, Amanda.”
Her sobs weakened as she looked up at him.
“It was not your fault that I tried to steal your handbag. You had to run after me. It was not your fault that I got ran over by that car. You’ve punished yourself enough, drowning in alcohol and pills. Why did you take so many pills that night?”
“It was an accident…”
“I know.”
“I never meant to kill myself!”
“I know.” Then he said, “I forgive you, Amanda. This is why I’ve come here. Tonight.”
They were quiet for a long time. Amanda stood up and looked around her. Would she smell the sea again? Play with Noah? She felt scared and lost.
“What now? Where do I go?”
Alfonsito took her by the hand. “Let me show you the way.”

The End

©2007, 2008. Mayra Calvani / All Rights Reserved. This story may not be copied nor printed in any form without permission from the author.


Déjà Vu
Por: Mayra Calvani

Amanda miró hacia el mar desde la acera del Boulevard del Valle. El estruendo de las olas contra las rocas resonaba en el aire. Sintió el gusto del salitre en la lengua y cómo la brisa fresca le alborotaba el pelo. Cruzó los brazos, tratando de darse calor.
Esta noche, el Viejo San Juan vibraba con una cualidad mágica. Los balcones y las vitrinas de las tiendas estaban adornadas con guirlandas de parpadeantes luces de colores. Por las ventanas de los apartamientos que daban a la calle se veían los árboles de Navidad encendidos.
Amanda se quedó mirando el mar durante un rato más. Era tarde ya y tenía que regresar a casa, a la fiesta que ella y su marido ofrecían, como todos los días de Nochebuena. Se estaba atrasando y lo sabía, aunque no podía precisar porqué.
Fue entonces que alguien chocó contra ella. Se dio vuelta para ver a un muchachito que corría calle abajo. Se congeló por un momento, antes de darse cuenta de lo que había sucedido – ¡le había robado la cartera!
“¡Oye!” le gritó, mientras le corría detrás. “¡Vuelve acá!”
Tuvo la sensación de algo irreal. Vio, como en cámara lenta, que el niño corría, con sus rizos oscuros flotando detrás, como si no hubiera gravedad. Una extraña noción de “deja vu” le sacudió las entrañas. Tenía que alcanzarlo. Tenía que detenerlo.
“¡Para!” le gritó, ya sin aliento.
Todo sucedió en cuestión de segundos. El muchachito miró hacia atrás, hacia ella, justo cuando empezó a cruzar la calle. Un auto se aproximaba hacia él a toda velocidad. Amanda lo agarró por la camisa y le dio un halón que lo devolvió a la acera y lo alejó de la calle. El muchacho trató de zafarse, pero ella lo tenía bien agarrado. Una sensación de alivio la invadió toda.
“¡Deja de luchar! El policía se va a dar cuenta,” dijo Amanda, mirando al oficial que caminaba por el otro lado de la calle: parecía aburrido, como si no hubiera notado que pasaba algo raro.
El muchacho dejó de forcejear y por primera vez ella lo miró a la cara. Tenía el pelo rizo y largo hasta los hombros. Sus ojos, grandes y castaños, la miraban desde debajo de unas pestañas muy largas. La luz de los faroles de la calle le sacaban un brillo rojizo a sus rizos. No podía tener más de ocho años. A pesar de su actitud arrogante, le recordaba las pinturas de los querubínes.
“¿Qué estabas haciendo? ¿Querías que te aplastara ese carro? ¡Por poco te arrolla!”, le dijo.
“¿Vas a hacer que me denuncien?” le preguntó él, con un gesto de desafío en la cara.
Amanda miró al policía, que ya estaba lejos. Suspiró: “¿Me vas a devolver mi cartera?”
Con una tranquilidad algo extraña, el muchacho le tendió la cartera.
“Gracias,” le dijo Amanda, secamente.
“¿Puedes soltarme ahora?”
Amanda se dio cuenta de que aún lo tenía agarrado por la camisa. Sintió una mezcla de confusión y temor. No quería dejarlo ir.
“No voy a salir corriendo,” le dijo el muchacho, enigmáticamente.
Los ojos de ambos se encontraron.
“Bueno,… está bien …”, dijo ella y lo soltó. “¿Cómo te llamas?”
“¿Porqué trataste de robarme la cartera?”
El muchacho alzó los hombros pequeños y huesudos. “¿Porqué es que los niños pobres les roban las carteras a la gente rica?”
Ella decidió ignorar la respuesta arrogante. “Debes regresar a tu casa. Es tarde”, le dijo. “Tus padres deben estar preocupados.”
“No, ellos nunca se preocupan.”
Empezaron a caminar uno al lado del otro.
“Deja que te lleve a tu casa.”
“No quiero ir a casa. Siempre hay pelea allí.”
“Es Nochebuena. Seguro que tu mamá está preparando una cena especial.”
“No quiero ir a casa,” repitió él, y su frialdad la dejó, a su vez, fría.
Amanda lo miró. No quería despedirse todavía. “¿Quieres ir a mi casa entonces? Podemos comernos algo juntos.”
“¿Vives en una mansión?”
“Sí, es una especie de mansión.”
“No tengo hambre.”
“Tengo un perro,” le dijo Amanda en tono tentador.
La expresión del muchacho cambió. “¿Cómo se llama?”
Alfonsito se quedó pensativo. Metió las manos en los bolsillos y siguió caminando. “Me gustaría conocer a Noé.”


Cuando llegaron a casa de Amanda, la fiesta estaba en su apogeo. Los invitados, muy bien vestidos, conversaban –con tragos y cigarrillos en las manos- alrededor de la piscina. Algunas parejas bailaban. Otros hacían fila ante la larga mesa del bufé. Por los altoparlantes escondidos salía la música de aguinaldos navideños.
Amanda llevó a Alfonsito hacia el patio trasero, donde estaba la entrada de la cocina.
“¿Conoces a toda esta gente?” le preguntó él.
“Sí y no,” le contestó ella mientras se detenía a mirar a los invitados. “Mi marido es un hombre importante. Casi toda esta gente trabaja con él.” Su voz se ensombreció y adquirió un tono amargo. “Yo siempre he sido una especie de ermitaña”
“¿Qué es eso?”
“Me gusta estar sola.”
“Mi marido es un hombre muy importante.”
“Ya lo dijiste.”
Cuando estaban llegando a la cocina se abrió la puerta y un enorme perro de pelo castaño claro salió corriendo hacia ellos.
“¡Noé!” lo llamó Amanda, y sonrió por primera vez esa noche. “¡Ven acá! Quiero presentarte a alguien.”
Se bajó para acariciarlo y le rascó la cabeza tras las orejas. Alfonsito reía y lo acariciaba también. Noé daba grititos, como si estuviera ansioso de que siguieran mostrándole tanto afecto.
“Vamos a entrar,” dijo Amanda.
Llevó a Alfonsito a una mesa que estaba en un rincón de la cocina. Los sirvientes siguieron en sus tareas del otro lado. Amanda buscó una bandeja de pastelitos y dulces y se la trajo al muchacho. Se sentó frente a él y a sus pies se tiró Noé, moviendo el rabo a todo lo que da.
“Anda, come,” le dijo ella.
“Y tú, ¿no vas a comer?”
“Me voy a tomar un trago,” contestó, mientras levantaba una copa de vino como si fuera a brindar.
Él la miró con cierta tristeza. “¿Tienes niños?” le preguntó.
Ella dijo que no con la cabeza. “Siempre he querido tener hijos, pero no puedo tenerlos.”
Cuando Alfonsito terminó de comer, Amanda le dijo, “Ahora te voy a llevar a tu casa. Se ha hecho tarde. Tu mamá debe estar preocupada.”
Amanda se bajó a acariciar a Noé, que empezó a llorar como si se diera cuenta de que ella se iría.


Amanda y Alfonsito se detuvieron ante la puerta de la casita donde vivía él.
Alfonsito estaba serio. Amanda iba a tocar la puerta cuando él la detuvo y le dijo: “No toques. Entremos.”
La salita era pequeña. No había adornos navideños: ni árbol, ni luces, ni guirnaldas ni pascuas.
Una mujer estaba sentada en la oscuridad, dándoles la espalda. Tenía algo en las manos.
Alfonsito le cogió la mano a Amanda y juntos se aproximaron a la mujer hasta que pudieron mirar sobre su hombro.
Alfonsito suspiró. “No llores, Mami,” le dijo bajito.
“¿Qué tiene entre las manos?” preguntó Amanda.
Y entonces vio. Era una foto de Alfonsito.
Se viró hacia él. Le pareció que el piso se estremecía bajo sus pies, que la habitación daba vueltas en torno a su cabeza. Abrió la boca pero no le salieron las palabras.
“Yo morí hace un año,” dijo él.
Amanda dio un paso atrás. “No…”
Se alejó de la mujer que lloraba y de Alfonsito. Los ojos grandes del muchacho brillaron de emoción mientras le tendía a Amanda una mano.
“Ven. Te llevaré,” le dijo.
“No puedes estar muerto. Estás aquí, conmigo, hablándome. Acabas de jugar con mi perro, de comer en mi cocina. No puedes estar …”


A esa hora de la noche en el cementerio del Viejo San Juan hacía frío y soplaba el viento. Amanda oía cómo las olas chocaban contra las rocas.
“¿Adónde me llevas?” le preguntó ella.
Ahora le tocaba a él sujetarla con fuerza.
“Tienes que saber, Amanda. Tienes que dejarte ir.”
Ella negó con la cabeza. Las lágrimas le corrían por las mejillas. “Me vas a llevar a tu tumba, ¿no es eso?”
Su manita apretó la de Amanda; las uñas del muchacho se le metían en la carne.
“Allí,” le dijo, empujándola hacia una lápida.
Ella leyó su propio nombre grabado en la piedra y se cubrió el rostro con las manos. Toda su vida, todos sus recuerdos le pasaron por la mente, incluso los de aquel último momento. “¡No! ¡No! ¡No!”
“Piénsalo”, le dijo él. “¿Porqué es que nadie nos puede ver u oir—nadie con excepción de Noé? ¿Cómo piensas que nos movimos de aquí a tu casa sin un auto?”
“Tienes que dejarte ir,” le dijo él.
“¡No!” Ella cayó arrodillada. La sobrecogían los recuerdos, la culpa, el dolor.
“Te quedarás aquí para siempre sin libertad y sin paz hasta que te perdones a ti misma. Mírame, Amanda.”
Los sollozos de ella disminuyeron cuando lo miró.
“No fue culpa tuya que yo tratara de robarte la cartera. Tenías que correrme detrás. No fue culpa tuya que me arrollara aquel carro. Te has castigado bastante, ahogándote en alcohol y píldoras. ¿Porqué tomaste tantas píldoras esa noche?”
“Fue un accidente…”
“Lo sé.”
“¡Nunca quise matarme!”
“Lo sé.” Entonces él le dijo, “Yo te perdono, Amanda. Por eso he venido aquí esta noche.”
Permanecieron callados durante un tiempo. Amanda se puso de pie y miró a su alrededor. ¿Volvería a oler el mar? ¿A jugar con Noé? Se sentía asustada y perdida.
“Y ahora, ¿qué? ¿Adónde voy?”
Alfonsito la tomó de la mano. “Yo te enseño el camino.”

***This version appeared in Revista Domingo, El Nuevo Dia newspaper, December 2007.
©2007, 2008. Mayra Calvani / All Rights Reserved. This story may not be copied nor printed in any form without permission from the author.

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At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her–her skin’s abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.

The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister’s baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her.

But nothing, not even the stunning splendour of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister’s unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…


“Mayra Calvani is a masterful storyteller… Dark Lullaby is complex and compelling…”
— Habitual Reader

“Dark Lullaby is an atmospheric paranormal horror that grips you from page one and refuses to let go until you’ve raced, breathless, to the end. The prose is so smooth there are no speed bumps as you devour the entire novel in one or two sittings.”
— ePinions

“If you like chills, foreign settings, and moral dilemmas, this book is for you!”
— Gloria Oliver’s Blog

“Dark Lullaby is a page-turner. A horror story from the top shelf! You’ll love it.”
— 5 stars from Euro-Reviews

“This is a terrific horror tale that hooks readers who in spite of knowing that Kamilah is malevolent from almost the first siren meeting with Gabriel wonder what her motive is and who she is. Fans will assume due to Gabriel’s descent into paranoia and Elena’s increasing manic panic attacks and anxiety-depression that borders on bipolar that this is a psychological thriller; but the Turkish locale and Kamilah make it so much more. Mayra Calvani will have fans hooked in a one sitting read as the author’s appreciative attentive audience will want to know is it madness or something more paranormally chilling.”
— Harriet Klausner

“The next time you feel like curling up with a scary book, get a copy of author Mayra Calvani’s Dark Lullaby, a riviting page turner that will keep you reading straight through until the end… Dark Lullaby is a must read for those who enjoy novels of horror. Calvani keeps the tension tight throughout this gripping novel.”
–Patricia Altner, Vampire Notes

“A master storyteller, Calvani hooked me from the first moment in the tavern to the very last page. This is truly a unique story that I look forward to reading again… Dark Lullaby will capture you with its rich descriptions, its exotic location, and the need to uncover the dark secrets hidden within its pages.”
–Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection


“Who’s that woman?” Gabriel demanded.

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t tell me you don’t know. I saw the way she looked at you–the way you looked at her.”

“She’s just an old woman, a silly superstitious old woman.”

Gabriel was sure Kamilah lied. He grasped her by the shoulders and turned her to him. “Why was she afraid of you?”

Kamilah laughed, her cheeks flushed. “Listen to what you’re saying. Why would she be afraid of me?”

“I don’t know. But it’s a fact that she gasped when she saw you, that she was afraid.”

She shrugged. “She must have mistaken me for somebody else.”

“But why did you look at her like that? I saw your face.”

She scowled. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Obviously you misread my face.” She wrestled away from his grip. “I want to go home.”


“Yes, home. To the forest. To the cottage.” She stomped her foot and kept going, leaving him behind.

Craning his neck, Gabriel looked back toward the scarf stand but the old woman was gone. “Damn!” he muttered.

He trotted after Kamilah.

Kamilah started running, her shrill, childish laugh defying him. Never stopping, she ran all the way to the mountain trail. With the heavy backpack and his sore leg muscles, Gabriel had a hard time keeping up with her. People turned to stare at them. Desperate to catch up with Kamilah, Gabriel clashed into a man as he crossed the street.

Gabriel muttered a curse. He felt like strangling Kamilah. Her erratic behavior was wearing thin.

“Wait!” he shouted when he saw her going up the trail.

She glanced back over her shoulder and flashed him a feral grin, her flushed cheeks contrasting deeply with her brilliant eyes. “You cannot catch me, you cannot catch me!” She sang loudly in monotone, between gasps. “You cannot catch me, you cannot catch me!”

As Gabriel ran after her the dull pain on the right side of his ribcage came back. He halted, panting. He leaned forward with his hands on his slightly bent knees and his eyes shut to concentrate on the ache.

Massaging the painful area, he made an effort to regain his breath. When he looked again to the trail Kamilah had vanished into the woods.

The hell with her. If she thought he would run after her and play her little hunting games, she was mistaken. He would very calmly find his own way back to the cottage. He reached into his backpack for the bottle of water and took a big gulp. After resting for several minutes the pain lessened and he felt better. In the deep chambers of his brain an alarm went off–for the first time the pain in his torso began to seriously worry him. He didn’t think it had anything to do with indigestion or any exotic virus or bacteria. Words like tumor and cancer flashed through his mind but he tried to shove them away. He couldn’t think about this now. Once back in Baltimore he would go to a doctor and have a complete examination.

He’d been hiking for about an hour when a sound came from deep within the woods.

Gabriel stopped, his head turning to the source.

The sound was familiar… the distant shrill murmur of children playing.

As suddenly as the sound had appeared, it vanished.

Goose bumps rose on his arms. Had he imagined it? He massaged the sides of his head while drops of sweat trickled down his back. The burning sun and the humidity didn’t help clear his mind.

After taking a few deep breaths, he continued his way up the trail.

About a quarter of an hour later he heard the sound again. This time it appeared closer.

Gabriel stopped and peered into the woods. He closed his eyes and concentrated on identifying the sound. Yes… the shrill murmur of small children playing. Ridiculous but true.

Gabriel decided to investigate.

Once under the canopy of the trees, moist coolness and shadows enveloped him. He welcomed the feeling and continued deeper into the woods, the ground soft and mushy under his boots.

After a few minutes it struck him the sound wasn’t getting closer or farther. Even though it was distant, it seemed to be everywhere, all around him.

Tilting back his head, he stared at the dense canopy of trees. Soft beams of light filtered down. He turned around slowly, light-headed and somewhat dizzy. For an instant he felt himself floating as the distant murmur of children caressed his mind.

“Kamilah!” he shouted. “Kamilah!”

He stopped turning and stood immobile, listening to his own heavy breathing, to his thudding heart.

“Kamilah, I know you’re here somewhere! Stop playing games!”

He scanned the surroundings. Something about the tree trunks caught his eye. Their surface wasn’t smooth as normal tree trunks. Lines marred the surface, natural lines which seemed to come from within the bark itself.

The lines, as if carved by a human hand, appeared to be forming something.

As realization dawned on Gabriel he gasped and stumbled back, nearly falling on the ground. He looked around him, terrified. Each tree trunk portrayed a different face… a baby face, crying, the mouth wide open in anguished misery.

The shrill murmur of children became louder than ever.

And then Gabriel understood it, heard it clearly. This wasn’t the murmur of children playing. This was the sorrowful crying of infants.

He ran back toward the trail as fast as his legs would allow him.

Note: A Spanish version of this excerpt appeared in El Nuevo Dia newspaper, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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