“I mean, we can work our way back up, right?” Todolix tried lightly. “And, we can hide it from your parents ‘til we find someone they trust on our side.”
Her best friend ignored her. Again. For the nth time.
One hand was wedged halfway into her armpit, her arm resting on her chest. Todolix remembered a YouTube vid she had once watched on body language. Ah, the knowledge acquired in the sleepless throes of 3AM. Cappe appeared to be self-soothing.
People self-soothe when they’re unhappy or distressed. It’s a coping mechanism most people don’t realise they practice, to calm oneself down, and spotting these signs can be easy, once you learn. You just have to know the person well enough to comfort them.
What made Cappe happy? The options fluttered around in her slug of a brain. Todolix was actually a terrible friend.
Her brain was a broken vending machine. She racked hard until a random can finally rolled to the bottom.
...Cappe always seemed extra gleeful when she managed to steal Todolix’s food?
Todolix’s abaya melted into the trusty linen of a striped apron, her hijab now tucked into a chef’s paper hat. It was a heavy pressure on her head, and yes, her customer seemed unbreakable, a stone wall. But this cook would find a way!
The air crackled with curiosity, assumptions, and spice as the white walls of the mosque were replaced by metal shafts of a kitchen with an open roof. Stars glittered from the dark patchwork of the sky as her assistants cluttered around with cooking books, reciting something that sounded suspiciously like various surahs. But they faded into the background, and Todolix’s rested her elbows on the counter, subtly examining her mysterious customer. Moonlight reflected off the stranger’s shuttered expression. It illuminated something that squeezed painfully at her head, something that woke Todolix up and the kitchen and the sky switched off abruptly.
Cappe wore a heavy frown. It sat between her eyebrows uncomfortably, her mouth dragged into an unhappy twist. Even the braids under her hijab sagged. Her arms were folded into a self-hug, elbows rested on her knees.
Todolix opened the pack of M&Ms she had been saving for later. “You want some?”
Cappe unceremoniously shoved a handful in her mouth.
Todolix racked the vending machine even harder.
Talking. She needs to rant.
Schooling her features into what she hoped was a softening expression, Todolix mimed for Cappe to speak.
Cappe did not take the hint. She flopped her head on to the bench. The stack of prophet stories wobbled dangerously, so Todolix grabbed them. They didn’t need to commit a sin right now; everything was already bad enough. She waited.
Cappe’s voice was muffled. “Ugh,”
“Yes, ‘ugh’ is correct.”
“Talking is meant to help, I think.” Todolix soothed.
Her best friend responded by sticking out her palm.
“Wha- you want more? Greedy pig.”
The palm waved around in an attempt to slap her.
“I’ll give you, then you tell me stuff.”
Cappe’s hand curled into a thumbs up, and then they were both silent, chewing over the sound of the other kids’ reading Quran.
She nudged Cappe’s knee. “Your turn,”
Cappe groaned, but Todolix saw her eyes returning to their usual mischevious light, so perhaps everything would be okay.