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Joceline Murga Galeana

“Can you oil my scalp when we get home?”
I suck in a dramatic breath. Extra loud. So you can hear my reluctance.
We laugh. We’ve just spent an hour scouring the aisles at the grocery store looking for flaxseeds.
You keep asking, “Why flaxseeds?”
“To make that smoothie my mom told me about,” I repeat for the eleven-teenth time.
We’re going through a smoothie and shake phase these days. Green smoothies, fruit smoothies, protein shakes, and now an attempt at papaya -almond milk- flaxseed shakes. We’re also running on three hours of sleep. But our laughs just sent a small surge of energy to keep me revived enough to oil your goofy scalp.
In my room, I turn on my speaker and put on a song you probably haven’t heard yet. I do a lot of that–show you music I keep hoping you’ll like. And after a year of long car rides and Sunday morning cleaning, you’re finally used to the unfamiliarity of my music and sway your head along anyway.
I’m going through a restless, sleepless phase myself. And I know you are too, but we don’t talk about it. You’re also going through a Candy Crush phase, which we do talk about and have an inside joke for: I comically roll my eyes every time you pull up the app and you pretend to be offended.
And it is this upside-down alarm (your laugh at 3AM) that loosens the corners of my head, sinking me into a coconut-flaxseeddream. A turbulent sleep. But sleep at last.
You tap away at your phone while I warm up the coconut oil in my hands. Who knows what we’re talking about. But we’re laughing a whole lot and even start singing a little.
Two hours later, we’re both in our own rooms lying in bed with our bonnets on. I know you’re not sleeping, but I’ve managed to convince you that I am, now that the music is turned off. I sometimes wonder if that ever makes you feel lonely in a way– thinking you’re the only one awake.
I eventually start getting the bedtime itches, and I lay like that for a while, unable to drift away even after a pleading prayer to the cosmos. A while turns into 3AM. Then I find myself jumping up at the most obnoxious sound: your stupid laugh. It is the loudest laugh I’ve ever heard. I hear it every day. Everyone who knows you, knows of that obnoxious laugh.

I let out a laugh of my own, so you know I’m awake, too. Only it probably gets muffled by the fan in my room, and you don’t hear it at all. You’re probably not lonely, though, I realize. And I’m never alone.
And it is this upside-down alarm (your laugh at 3AM) that loosens the corners of my head, sinking me into a coconut-flaxseed dream. A turbulent sleep. But sleep at last.

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