“If you and I are in agreement…” Azzah let her sentence trail off as she pushed her elbow into Reem’s back. Reem stood back up, downing half of her bowl with a few gulps. She glanced back at Azzah with a smirk. Azzah gestured for her to move on. Reem did so, Azzah watching her the entire time.
“They certainly like to dance around each other,” Waseme commented, holding a new bowl out to Azzah.
Azzah took a few more gulps to finish her drink so to exchange it with the fresh one. “In Reem’s case it is dancing. She knows how to dance well. Lebna knows how to stand and look pretty.”
“It is a good thing to have,” Waseme agreed. “What will you do when she takes him?”
Azzah shrugged. “Nothing different. It won’t change anything.”
Waseme held the empty bowl to her chest, following Azzah’s watchful eye back to Reem. Reem’s stance was much like when they sparred – sturdy. She knew exactly where she stood and it was where she wanted to be. Lebna could only attempt to mimic her certainty. It made Azzah snicker.
“Probably not.” Waseme patted Azzah on the shoulder and returned to her pots.
He went to the same coffee shop every morning. He always ordered the same thing, a wet cappuccino, despite the fact that his wife told him just to get a dry latte because that was the same thing. It wasn’t, he was certain, so he never did change.
This meant when the world literally ended on the one day he failed to get his cappuccino, he couldn’t help but feel like it was his fault.
“News reports: all over the world children are refusing to grow up.”
He stared at the screen, then at his coworker as they stood on the tram. “That’s ridiculous. Why bother to report on such a thing.”
His coworker appeared to be taking it a bit more seriously. “It’s not that they are refusing. Not only. My… my niece hasn’t changed in over a year. We thought she was just slow in her physical growth, but…”
He decided to ignore this, because obviously his coworker was being crazy. He moved on to work, where the entire office was going crazy because of the news. And here he was, without his cappuccino. He felt its absence in his hands.
Well, there were worse things to happen, he tried to tell himself. But it seemed unfair that children could make this change and the rest of them couldn’t.
There came the day when the vicious beasts no longer had names that anyone knew. At least, not anyone nearby. Without a name, without anyone who knew anything about them, these monsters became much more difficult to kill when they got in the way.
“If we come across another slaughtered town…”
Toiréasa didn’t have to finish her sentence, Saoirse knew how it would end. It felt like they had been away from home for so long, tracking down the origins of these changes, this destruction. This swampland used to be a grassy field, according to the maps, according to the last people they had talked to. Some still believed it was grass. The change hadn’t happened slowly.
“-did you see that?”
Saoirse first looked at Toiréasa before following her line of sight. First it looked like a body. Then it tried to move.
Someone was, despite all odds, alive.