Siesta

Typically our house is full of sound.

Typically my little brother can be heard playing Rock Band anywhere in the house. He likes to turn the volume up loud. He sings along to Paramore’s That’s What You Get, his prepubescent voice still able to go up the extra octave. It’s his favorite song in the game. Lately he’s been singing it nonstop. Yesterday my abuelo threatened to throw the game away if he didn’t quit singing during dinner.

Typically the sound of arguing tumbles down the staircase as my abuelos yell at my mother, telling her how badly she’s messed up with us. Being a young single mother is never easy, especially in a world where women aren’t supposed to be alone. It would be different if her husband had died. That would at least be respectable. But being an unwed, teenage mother – no matter how long ago it was – is still shameful.

Typically there’s me and my baby sister playing cards at the kitchen table. Uno. Her new favorite game. We play it over and over again, and I became bored with it ages ago, but I keep playing because that’s what big sisters do. She sings and dances each time she wins a round. She cheats. I used to call her out on it, but now I just let her win.

But not today. It’s summer now. And today everything is silent. Everything is still.

Today my brother and sister are asleep in the next room, sharing hammock but doing everything they can not to touch one another. On a day like today, one touch of another human being could set your skin on fire.

Today my mother and abuelo sit on opposite ends of the sofa, not looking at one another for fear a spark may ignite. My abuela, no longer able to keep working in the stifling kitchen, exhausted in more ways than one, is sitting motionless at the table, her eyes focusing on nothing in particular. The glass of water sitting in front of her has already become too warm to be refreshing.

Today I lay in my hammock, the fan above me slowly slicing through the thick, hot air, moving it around, washing me in a warm breeze that only adds to my discomfort. The air coming in through the open window is even heavier than the air already in the room. I should get up and close it, but I don’t. Like everything else in the house, I stay perfectly still. I do everything I can not to disturb the heat that has settled in around me. To do so would only make it worse. I can feel beads of water starting to form on my forehead, but I know better than to try to brush them away. The effort it would take to raise my arm to my head would cause me to break out in a full sweat.

Even the animals know better than to try to move at midday in the summer. The dogs that usually crowd the streets have disappeared in search of shade. Not even the insects are out while the sun blazes above.

I know why the siesta was invented. It was invented for days like today. Days when it’s too hot to move. Days when there is nothing to do but lie and wait for night to fall. Once the oppressive sun goes down, the earth will finally begin to cool and then my world will awake and come to life once more.

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