What had she hoped to accomplish? Prove her point? Some word from the distantly all-too recent past came to mind. 'Extreme'. Maybe. She hadn't thought then, or then, or then, and definitely not now.
Way back then, Irene had written everything Noah had seen. Without much thought save impassioned irritation. Especially without thought spared for typos. Fingers fast then, as they weren't now. She took the time to write. She wasn't writing anything for reals, but the wall she had claimed as chalkboard buzzed with activity in her mind's eye. Sentences sweated from the pores of the concrete, traced by a nondescript imagination, line for line. 'Noah', and then 'do', and then 'you'. Somehow she could remember, however long ago it had been. Days? Months? Years, even though she hadn't known Noah that long? 'Think' was spelled correctly this time around. She began drifting down the y-axis, the sentence began to tilt. Actually writing didn't allow much freedom. Seemed better, much better, when it was all just in her head.
That was right. It was better. Wouldn't comfort Noah at all, but, well.
"... This I can't just wash away..."
'Don't... 'you'... 'think'... Irene couldn't help her fingers helplessly flexing at her side, slow-dancing quietly against her thigh. Words were everywhere, in front, beside, especially behind her. Noah said things, she listened. For once, perhaps. She stared. As usual. Not at him. Her eyes didn't hurt anymore, but the more she listened the more she got the sense that she'd chosen the wrong time to stop crying. Seemed about right. Unlike her. Suddenly Irene didn't seem so right.
That wasn't right.
So she'd had the wrong idea. Self-misogynist wasn't a word. Accounting for that it was missing from what she was rewriting in air on the wall. Twink was a word, whatever it meant. Just a couple of little mistakes. Nothing she couldn't bounce back from. She had a perfect draft in front of her now. Noah hadn't even read the whole thing anyways. Everything that needed to be said, for her to once more be the one in the right. Real or otherwise, typos or otherwise. All right there. Her hand sat silent, waiting to be called to action to do something that would have no purpose anyways.
"... My little sister is an amazing kid, and I know she's going to rule the world someday, and I believe she can do it..."
Somehow that of all things stood out. Sounded familiar. There were a lot of little sisters, in this world.
How long had they even stood there? He had so many things to say. She didn't have a word, for all of the ones she'd pretended to write. She wanted to move her hand, flourish it somehow on her behalf. It kind of just flopped in a circle and then weakly settled from whence it came. He was continuing to say things. Things that she understood as much as she didn't want to. She wanted to somehow retort, make it so she was the one who had a reason to be mad again. She was supposed to be the right one. She couldn't be, even if she wanted to.
Her vocal cords only constricted, contracted, belts and ropes and whips tight. Nothing.
The only thought she had left to obey was to keep staring straight ahead. She refused to admit anything further.
"'... Kill your female self or whatever that shit even is'. This is one of the worst things you could tell an LGBT person. Yes, I get that you're referring to my character, but this is really where you've gone too far..."
You're the one who made the joke in the first place, Whitley. Irene wished she could remember that night. She saved the formless evidence as part of the now lively discussion not happening on the expanse of brick and mortar before her.
"... I have had to spend my whole life explaining myself to people. I have to convince people why I am the way I am and hope that they can accept it..."
This was all just a giant misunderstanding, just like the days she would say something stupid to mom and then mom would get furious and Irene would just mumble stuff and be exonerated. It happened all the time, literally all the time, with friends with family.
"But for you, Irene, to act like you like me, or at least tolerate me, and then to write such hateful things that you probably hoped you could say to me once you found the chance, this is downright despicable."
Sometimes saying things didn't work so well. Sometimes they made things worse. But no matter what Irene was always there. And she never really knew what to say, in hindsight.
Now, still, she didn't know.
She had to say something. Why was it so hard to say something? A refusal, an edict to the effect. It was so weird that she didn't want to cry right now. This was the time to cry. It was him, it was her. Noah Whitley, the boy-slash-apparent-twink she'd once thought she hated and was an insensitive jerk and thought he was so clever and smart when he totally wasn't. Irene Djezari, the...
She was proven wrong. In so many words. Somehow that didn't seem to matter. And Irene had nothing to say. She just had thoughts and visions but none of them were worth anything. To be fair, they were all right there. She had all the obvious apologies, corrections, rebuttals. The counterproposals, the evidence, the tangents. The anger, the fear, the desire. It was all still there. She had it all, she had...
... To be...
... Nothing to say. His stories were touching. His delivery, for once, made perfect sense. His accusations were justified. She had responses, but she had nothing to say. Irene always had a move. Usually ill-advised. But at least she'd always felt... something. Now she couldn't move at all. Couldn't feel anything at all. She could have run, screamed, cried at the very least. It would somehow prove something. Every instinct just wanted her to stay so still statues would sooner crumble away to eternity than she.
Funnily enough, with all Noah had said, she somehow did feel better. Negative to zero. But in terms of absolute value zero was handily the worst. However that metaphor translated to real life. It probably didn't, all things considered.
Maybe this all proved something in and of itself. Zen and all that.
Her eventual response was the first thing that came to mind that she didn't carefully, meticulously, infinitesimally curate in her stubborn silence. Just a few seconds, eternity, either definition of time sprung to mind for how long she'd stood there, unresponsive. She said it in a tone so even that she couldn't:
"You can break it, if you want... The phone." How helpful, that she specified. How that in anyway resolved anything was a question Irene herself didn't know the answer to.
Somehow it was logical. Noah got his fair shot at retaliation. Whatever came after at least, somehow, it was a step towards normalcy. Where all these words somehow made sense, where Irene was Irene again, whatever that entailed. And just like everything else Irene inevitably lost or broke she'd just come up with something, maybe sniffle a bit, and mom and sis would be halfway across the world to replace it on her behalf. The phone, it's contents, they didn't matter.
What did matter was her. Irene was the answer to the problem, it was all right there. She had to be something, anything... She was useless, that's what she was. Typical. She continued to not be willing to will herself to any further action, kept every muscle locked so tight she swore she'd snap in half at the shoulders from the strain, as much as she wasn't feeling anything at that moment. What words even reasonably described these feels? Come on, Webber... Trepidation? Stoicism? Callousness? Triggered?
Obviously most of what was happening in Irene's head wasn't really apparent. It was fast as the speed of thought and only exponentially more convoluted. It probably also wasn't really relevant in the grand scheme of things. What Noah heard, what he saw, that was what he got. An answer. A person.
Whatever the substance of either was.