BAI LOOKED AT me again and again. Maybe it was because my eyes were so puffy from barely having any sleep, but that was no excuse to keep glancing at me in class. I gave her a look.
“Did she talk to you again?” Bai whispered.
I turned towards the blackboard and nodded.
“Do you want to share baon today?” she asked. I told her yes.
After class, we waited until everyone else went to the canteen. Bai swiveled in her chair to face me and crossed her arms.
“Inah says we should choose our own friends. She’s right, you know.”
“Did she make you tuna sandwich?” I asked. “You can’t eat mine, it’s eggs and pork.”
“That’s three days now. Mrs. Corazon probably knows we’re sharing.”
“You can have my juice.”
Bai spent the rest of recess trying to help me understand the math lesson ahead. She explained things simpler than the teacher. As always, I understood better with her.
By the time the bell rang, I was feeling proud of myself. Bai pinched both of my cheeks.
“You did it!” she said. “You should smile more, Lila. You look like a teddy bear.”
“Teddy bear?” I asked. I thought of a huge, brown thing, the one people won at carnivals for hitting the bull’s eye. “That big?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it like that, Lila!”
“It’s fine,” I said. “Mama says I should start exercising, anyway.”
“What did she say this time?” asked Bai.
“The same,” I said in a tiny voice. “She said I’m not supposed to be friends with you anymore.” I pursed my lips and busied myself with putting away my lunch box. When she was sad, Bai pouted and widened her eyes like a puppy. She only did that when she felt really bad for me, which was becoming more and more often.
Bai adjusted the veil covering her hair. It was pink today. She held my arm and said, “Let’s go buy some stuff at the mall after class, okay? I’ll tutor you on the way.”