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Rukky was asleep. I watched her chest rise and fall. I listened to the little snorting noises she made as her mouth opened and closed in a rhythmic fashion. Fish had nothing on her. Except fishes didn’t snore.

Open, snort, close.

I pumped my pillow and lay back on my side of the bed. I counted sheep. I counted the sugar ants that marched in formation across the wall in front of me. I lay on my stomach. Then on my side. I dare not lie on my back. Rukky once told me doing that gave witches access to come and ‘press’ me.

I recited the two times table backwards; then the three times table. I got to five before I realized I was enjoying it. It wasn’t supposed to be fun. The plan was to bore myself.

The bed made a creaking sound as I moved causing me to freeze. A quick glance told me Rukky was still asleep. I fought the impulse to slap her buttocks and won. It would not be funny if I woke her up. “At least you won’t be alone,” the little voice Rukky said was the devil in me said. “I rebuke you in Jesus’ name,” I whispered like I had been taught in teen’s church. From my frozen position I could see my copy of Diana Palmer’s Amber and the Sheikh sticking out from my Biology textbook. If I bent my head a certain way, the dog eared pages looked like a pair of crooked fingers beckoning to me.

“You girls had better get some sleep. I don’t want you nodding off at the all night prayer vigil,” my mother had said.

“Father Lord, if you make me fall asleep, I promise to wash all the dirty plates and not hide any of them in the big pot.”

Never make a promise you can’t keep. Rukky’s voice in my head

“Father Lord, I take it back. I promise to finish reading the novel quickly, and when I’m done, I’ll sleep the sleep that you send. In Jesus’ name,” I added for effect.

“Better add a prayer for strength to take the cane mummy will fire you when you fall asleep in church,” Rukky’s voice. Sleepy, but very real.

I sighed and leaned back into the bed, lying on my side. The ants had formed another line. I resumed counting.

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