She learned to love reading at an early age by spending time in her father's library. Her childhood was marked by fear, a theme that appeared in a number of her future works as an author. In she moved to Mexico City where she worked as Alfonso Reyes 's secretary. Davila is known for her use of themes of insanity, danger, and death, typically dealing with a female protagonist. Many of her protagonists appear to have mental disorders and lash out, often violently, against others. Many times the women are still unable to escape from their mental issues and live with the actions they have taken.
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We lived in a small, isolated town, far from the city. A town that was almost dead, or about to disappear. He was grim, sinister. With large yellowish eyes, unblinking and almost circular, that seemed to pierce through things and people. My miserable life became a hell. The very night he arrived, I begged my husband not to condemn me to the torture of his company. He stayed in our house. Everyone in the house—my children, the woman who helped me with the chores, her little son—dreaded him.
Only my husband enjoyed having him there. From the first day, my husband assigned him the corner room. It was a large room, but dark and damp. Because of these drawbacks, I never used it. He, however, seemed content with it. Being quite dark, it suited his needs. He would sleep until night fell, and I never discovered what time he went to bed.
I lost what little peace I had enjoyed in that big house. During the day, everything proceeded with apparent normality. I always rose very early, dressed the children—who would already be awake—gave them breakfast, and entertained them while Guadalupe fixed up the house and went out to do the shopping. The house was very large, with a garden in the middle and the rooms laid out around it. Between the rooms and the garden were corridors that protected the rooms from the harshness of the frequent rains and wind.
To keep such a large house in order and its garden cared for—my morning activity each day—was hard work. But I loved my garden. The passageways were covered with climbing plants that flowered almost all year round.
In the garden I grew chrysanthemums, pansies, Alpine violets, begonias, and heliotropes. While I watered the plants, the children entertained themselves looking for caterpillars among the leaves. Sometimes they spent hours, silent and very intent, trying to catch the drops of water that leaked from the old garden hose. There were times when, as I was cooking the afternoon meal, I suddenly saw his shadow cast upon the wood stove. I would feel him behind me. He would go back to his room, as if nothing had happened.
I think he was completely unaware of Guadalupe; he never approached her or chased after her. Not so with me and the children. He hated them, and he stalked me constantly. When he left his room, there began the most terrible nightmare a person could endure. He always stationed himself under a small arbor in front of my bedroom door.
I stopped leaving my room. Several times, thinking he was still asleep, I would head toward the kitchen to make the children a snack, then suddenly discover him in some dark corner of the walkway, beneath the flowering vines. Guadalupe and I never referred to him by name. It seemed to us that doing so would lend greater reality to that shadowy being.
He only took two meals, one when he woke up at dusk and the other, perhaps, in the early morning before he went to sleep. Guadalupe was responsible for bringing him the tray; I can assure you that she flung it into the room, for the poor woman was just as terrified as I was.
When the children had gone to sleep, Guadalupe would bring dinner to my room. And he came home very late. He had a lot of work, he said once. I think other things kept him entertained as well. One night I was awake until almost two in the morning, hearing him outside. When I woke up, I saw him next to my bed, looking at me with his fixed, piercing gaze.
I leaped out of bed and threw the gasoline lamp at him, the one I left burning all night. He dodged the blow and left the room. The lamp shattered on the brick floor and the gasoline quickly burst into flame. My husband had no time to listen to me, nor did he care what happened in the house. We only spoke when absolutely necessary. Between us, affection and words had long since been exhausted. I feel sick all over again when I remember. I checked on him several times; he was sleeping peacefully.
It was close to noon. When I reached the room I found him cruelly beating the boy. When Guadalupe came back from her shopping, she found me unconscious and her little boy covered with bruises and bloody scratches. Her pain and rage were terrible.
I was afraid that Guadalupe would go away and leave me alone. But that day a hatred was born in her that clamored for vengeance. I thought then about fleeing from that house, from my husband, from him. But I had no money and no easy way to communicate with anyone. Without friends or family members to turn to, I felt as alone as an orphan. When Guadalupe went out to the market, I shut myself in my room with them. The opportunity arrived when we least expected it. My husband left for the city to take care of some business.
He would take a while to return, he told me, some twenty days. Guadalupe and her son slept in my room, and for the first time I could lock the door. Guadalupe and I spent almost the entire night making plans. The children slept peacefully. From time to time we heard him come up to the door of the room and pound at it furiously. When everything was ready, we crept noiselessly toward the corner room.
The wings of the double door were ajar. Holding our breath, we dropped the bolts, then locked the door and began to nail the planks across it until we had completely sealed it shut. While we worked, thick drops of sweat ran down our foreheads. When everything was finished, Guadalupe and I hugged each other, crying. The following days were awful. He lived many days without air, without light, without food. At first he pounded at the door, throwing himself against it; he shouted desperately, clawed and scratched.
Neither Guadalupe nor I could eat or sleep—the screams were terrible! Sometimes we thought my husband would come back before he was dead.
If he were to find him that way!. His endurance was great; I think he lasted close to two weeks. One day there was no more noise to be heard. Not even a moan. Still, we waited two more days before opening the room. From The Houseguest and Other Stories. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson. Drawing comparisons to Kafka, Poe, Leonora Carrington, and Shirley Jackson, the stories in the collection follow characters to the limits of desire, paranoia, insomnia, and fear.
She has been hailed as one of Mexico's masters of the short story. Article continues after advertisement. More Story.
El Huesped Y Otros Relatos Siniestros
We lived in a small, isolated town, far from the city. A town that was almost dead, or about to disappear. He was grim, sinister. With large yellowish eyes, unblinking and almost circular, that seemed to pierce through things and people.
But much of the literary caliber of the story lies in the fact that it is indeed believable and appealing as realistic fiction. What is this creature to symbolize? Seymour Menton states, noting her due recognition for the fantastic elements in her narratives, which her realistic stories stand out also The narrative of terror commences with the introduction of the mysterious guest. Furthermore, more than a few readers insist that, from the beginning, originally and always, the beast described is really a human being. Our first clue for identifying this unwanted guest is the reaction of the wife when her husband first brings it home. She is paralyzed by fear.