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Cicada Days
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"James?" One syllable betrayed Irene's confusion as she considered the possibilities. James Watson? James Franco? Irene wasn't even sure where that second name came from, save the barest twitch of trigger-finger inklings that it had something to do with things Asimah and Mom possibly watched. Arbitrarily, off the top of her head... The King's James Bible. The James Bible of the King. Made enough sense for Irene to go forward on that assumption. The hypothesis was lent further credence by the good 'Lord' bit. "Man, that one took me a bit." Irene could have played off her noteworthy pause there any number of ways but she'd already blurted out the truth. Dammit. At least she now had a shoulder to cry on, Abby being so kind as to provide one. She even offered a smile, which was happily returned. Irene liked cuddling with other girls in a platonic sense, it reminded her of the times when she could snuggle with sis without feeling all kinds of uncomfortable and embarrassed. She drew closer until she was essentially using Abby as the third leg of her table. Rickety any sort of construct built even in part from an Irene doubtlessly was.

"How exactly does James speak to you?" Irene studied the text she continued to blithely believe was the King James version. Her eyes scrolled as if controlled by the non-organic variety of mouse, rudely flicked back and forth in a microcosm of all that was wrong with the internet generation. But she was legitimately going fast. One second it was 'where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from?' A few seconds of skipping rope with Abby's pointer finger later and she was reading about messages and destiny. An itch over her retina caused some skips. Nothing significant, maybe a few lines or a dozen lost. But something made some sort of impact, the K-T event for her dinosaur brain. 'If you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.'

Sounded contrived.

"Lots of talk about not sassing or undermining folks for spite, mind, but I can't think of anybody I'm lookin' to badmouth?"

"I legitimately doubt you could badmouth anyone if they had, like, a gun to your head and the distinctive aroma of fish and sewers about them." Maybe Irene didn't know Abby quite well enough to make such an assertion. But hey, it was a compliment. Irene hoped. "But man. I bet there are some people right at this school that James here has got on his naughty list." It wasn't a question, but experience had taught Irene that this was the sentence that either triggered gossip or pointed ignoring. When she remembered to use it, anyways. She'd run the stats someday, maybe get a number that was above zero if she was lucky.

"Easing someone else's struggle." Well it was quite the compliment lobbed Irene's way. For the briefest of moments her ego happily purred, satiated by niceties. Sure, she was totally a good girl at heart. But wait a minute. What was it that the people who used these books with the huge crosses and robes and stuff said? Practice what you preach. By Abby's standards... Well. Irene didn't work at a clinic or a shelter, really, unless one counted the Vaults from the Fallout series. Her Fallout character, now there was a saint, save the whole accident where she had picked the wrong option with the nuclear bomb. She didn't like to talk about that one. No, wait, focus. Irene wasn't her character, even though said character was named Irene. Irene was Irene. The 'herself' Irene. Descartes eat your heart out.

So, no clinic, no shelter. Not even much family, really. Asimah and Mom and Dad... had she even really seen a concentrated amount of them since Dad's birthday that February? The one she'd spent half of street passing with the girl the table over half her age?

Irene wasn't bothered, not yet. She needed at least a few more existential screw ups to really make her feel that alien turning of her stomach.

"Uh-huh, I see." Irene managed to keep the conversation going, even through the distractions of her own ruminations. "Well, uh. Thanks! I mean I don't do much. I don't even rub my hands all that often, I mean it's super hot like every month of the year. Why would I need to try and conserve body heat?" Irene was still sort of smiling dumbly, still sort of happily dumb. "So that sort of stuff is what you spend most of your time on?" A finger instinctively pried at the page, against Abby's possible wishes, trying to turn it. Maybe Abby was actually done, but Irene sure wasn't aware enough to confirm that fact.

V6 - Like you imagined when you... were young...
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