Chapter 14

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This was now the second time I woke up next to Camila.

But this time it was different. I definitely couldn’t enjoy her sleeping next to me when I remembered what had happened. My heart was still aching thinking about her breakdown hours before. I had woken up multiple times during the night, worried about the younger woman next to me. She had been dead asleep every time but I couldn’t help but be concerned. I was awake for quite a while now and just watched her sleep. Her steady breathing was soothing but also terrifying because I knew as soon as she’d wake up, her now peaceful facial expressions would be replaced by the ones full of pain and agony.

Assuming the Cabellos would incorporate traditional Cuban elements to Sinuhe’s passing today would be a very hard day. It was common amongst our community to spend the following 24 hours with the deceased and then hold the funeral right afterwards. At least that’s what we had done with my grandmother. Maybe it wouldn’t be as customary but I could imagine there being similarities.

It hadn’t really sunk in yet that Camila’s mom was actually gone. Wrapping my head around something so definite and irreversible was a strange concept but I tried my best not to be in denial and let myself feel whatever it was at the moment. Right now, it was sorrow. In a dimension that was difficult to grasp. Although I wanted to stay in bed and just watch over the light haired woman, I needed to make sure the others were taken care of as well. Camila sleeping was a good thing because I wanted her to gain whatever strength she could at this point.

Carefully getting out of bed without waking her up was a struggle but I did it. The entire house was quiet and I realized everyone was probably already at the wake. The family spent hours just honoring the departed at a local place with the coffin being there, until 24 hours passed and everyone went to the cemetery. My heart rate went crazy just thinking about this but I needed to be strong if I wanted to be some sort of support system for Camila.

To calm my nerves, I went outside to the backyard to have a cigarette. Placing the cigarette between my lips, I saw someone coming out as well. It was Sofi. I hadn’t seen her since knowing her mom has passed on but we both slowly walked up to each other until I embraced her tightly in my arms.

“I’m sorry”, I whispered and held her for a quite a while, softly stroking her back and rocking her little body.

She flashed a very small smile when we let go and I saw how swollen her eyes were. I had admired her maturity the days before but seeing her so vulnerable reminded me that she was just sixteen. No matter how mature for her age, she was just a kid that had just lost her mom. I brushed her dark brown hair to the side so I could place a comforting kiss on her forehead. She looked up now and I saw the tears burning in her eyes. Neither of us said anything but I thought she’d understand how deeply sorry I was for her loss.

Giving her a little space, I took the cigarette and lit it this time.

“Can I have one?”, Sofi asked surprisingly.

I probably should’ve said “No”. But how do you deny someone anythingwhen they had just lost their mother. She really did remind me of myself; of Camila as well. Almost like a mixture of the both of us when were younger. I decided to give in and watched her inhale deeply when she took my cigarette and I lit another one for myself.

“I didn’t know you smoked”, I said and the concern in my voice was obvious.

“I do sometimes, but not a lot. My family doesn’t know-“

“I won’t tell them”, I assured her quickly because I knew what she felt like. They probably already had an idea. I had tried hiding my smoking habits when I was younger as well but later I found that they all knew anyways. It was strange in a way but it felt like my bond with Sofi got stronger by the minute even if we didn’t talk. Maybe I shouldn’t corrupt her lungs in the process but I was happy that the teenager felt so comfortable around me; almost like I was an older sister to her as well.

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