The girl was cross. He was not doing it right.
“You’re not doing it right!” her words were brittle, like those thin layers of ice that filmed on window panes and the lids of icecream pints. Prickly and chipped at the edges.
He exhaled, soundless and loud at the same time. Vexation has volume.
The boy, whose right hand was tenderly cradling the girl’s cheek, shifted and adjusted. He cupped her cheek in another angle, a little lower, a tenser hand, a softer wrist.
“Like this can?” he retorted, his words jagged and sharp while his hand remained a gentle curve.
The girl, who was pretty even with testy dissatisfaction hugging her mouth, peered critically into the phone she was holding up. “You’re pulling my hair,” she muttered before forcefully tugging a few strands out of his cupped hand. She peered into her phone again.
“Okay. Now it’s okay. Okay, smile at me. Not at the camera! At ME. ” It sounded more like a command than anything else.
“No not like that.”
“Can you smile more naturally? You look so fake.”
“Yes like that, but we have to take again. My face looks fat in this one.”
Ten. Fifteen. Twenty four. The girl clicked on with militant determination, she beamed in megawatt joy, she grinned cheekily, she contorted her mouth into a half-laugh as her eyes turned up into commas, she puckered her lips into a kiss, she shuttered her eyes down in mock bashfulness, a secretive little quirk of her lips. Ah, yes, this. Perfect.
“Okay, we got it.” she turned her head away from his hand irritably and hopped off his lap. She returned to her seat across from him and pushed the menu towards him.
“You can order first. I want to edit and post on Insta.”
She was too engrossed in her phone to notice his eyes roll, or when his eyes widened, and blinked twice. If she had looked up, she would have seen him gazing beyond her shoulder at the group of girls seated behind them.
But she was adjusting brightness.
If she had looked up, she would have seen him shoot his smile, the smile he strategically made a notch shy, to the brunette at the table, who was looking back at him.
But she was busy meticulously reducing shadows.
If she had looked up just then, she would have seen him mouth the word ‘no’ when the brunette gestured to her, silently asking if they were together.
But she was busy Googling for a quote for her caption. Rumi or Lang Leav?
So she didn’t.
“There! Posted on IG,” she sat back with a self-satisfied sigh.
The boy shrugged. He stood up. “I uh, got to go to the washroom,” he mumbled.
“Now? When we are going to eat?”
Now it was her turn to roll her eyes as he left the table. Her phone lit, and she momentarily forgot about her annoyance. Somebody had commented on her photo. She smiled complacently as she clicked on the orange speech bubble.
Omg too cute you two! Relationship goals!