I wrote this randomly last week. I don't know if I'm going to go anywhere with it, yet...but if I do decide to take it somewhere, you'll know.
For now, enjoy. :D
Sometimes I can still remember what it felt like to be nine years old. To be innocent and carefree and worried only about friends and family and school. Sometimes I can still remember sitting on the banks of Stark's Pond and holding Stan's hand, feeling his fingers trembling in my palm and smiling at him behind my scarf because he was just so cute. I would look away, pretend I didn't see him blushing, and I would wave to Bebe as she chased poor Kyle around the ice. He would lean over and kiss my cheek, sometimes, and I loved him the most when he did that; when he found the courage inside of his third-grade body to show me how much he cared. I would giggle and kiss him back, softly on his cheek or his ear, and sometimes he would run away, only to return a few minutes later with an unsteady step and a weak smile on his pale face.
He didn't stop throwing up until we were in the sixth grade.
I guess testosterone kicked the shit out of that adorable, innocent little boy I loved so tenderly. He turned into a man that year. A deep-voiced, athletic, slightly cocky, sexy man, who chose to spend less time with his friends and more time with his girlfriend. And that girlfriend was me. He was my man. I was his woman. And I still loved it every bit as much as I had loved it when we were younger.
Kyle took a little longer to blossom. I noticed it; his voice didn't change until around the beginning of eighth grade, and then he got really tall and had acne all the time. He had to get braces, and Bebe lost interest in him, flocking instead to Craig, who was very much like Stan, save the fact that he was a little less sexy and much more of an asshole. Kyle hated himself for a little bit when that happened, but he had Stan there to comfort him, as he always had, and he would come with us sometimes when we went to get pizza or went to see a movie. He always seemed a little uncomfortable tagging along on our dates, but I could tell when he smiled at us—flashing those train-track teeth at us—that he was happy we had invited him.
Poor Kyle. He's always been so sweet.
Looking back on growing up with the two of them—Kyle my younger brother, Stanley my beloved "husband"—I can't help but get choked up nowadays. We're all so old, now. Going into high school was supposed to be something great; something that told us all that we were adults, now, and that it was time to act like it. Only the three of us really took this into account. The rest of them—Kenny, Eric, Craig and his gang—all stayed pretty much the same, like they weren't ready to let their childhoods go, yet. Like they weren't ready to grow the fuck up.
It didn't bother me so much that Kenny didn't grow up. I mean…he's always been a bit crazy…so I forgave him quickly when he just kept on smiling and flirting and not bathing. I accept Kenny as my friend now, I suppose, though since I've taken him in, he's been close to me in some odd, awkward way that isn't at all like my relationships with Kyle or Stan or anyone else I've ever met. Kenny will never be a brother to me. He'll never be a boyfriend. He'll never even really be one of my better friends. He'll always just be…Kenny.
But I guess that's okay with him. And it's okay with me, too.
When I'm bored, sometimes I'll just sit around my house, waiting for the phone to ring and bring a smile to my face. Usually it's Stan, but sometimes it'll be Kenny, and I can feel his weird, crooked smile on the end of the line. "Hey Wendy," he says in his wet, cigarette-torn voice, and I always laugh into the phone at the sound of my own name for some reason. "Wanna go throw trash at cars with me and Kyle?"
I've always been the kind of girl who wants to save the rainforest and bring about world peace. Littering is disgusting, to me, but for some reason, I can never turn him down when he asks me to do this. I giggle again. "Sure," I reply, and we hang up simultaneously, knowing exactly where to meet.
He'll bring the garbage. He always does.
By now I've accepted the fact that Kenny probably looks at me as "one of the guys". That's why he invites me out on these little excursions when Stan is sick or grounded or away on vacation. I'm his replacement Stan, and I guess that's fine, as long as Kyle is there to mediate. Kyle knows that I'm not Stan, and I don't laugh at the same things or like to talk about the same things that he does. Kenny's never really stepped out of line in front of me since we became friends, but for some reason, I like having Kyle around, anyway.
I walk to the interstate at the edge of town, my boots crunching in day-old snow, my breath fogging in front of me. Winter, to me, has always smelled like warm fireplaces and rusted iron, and I really like that smell. I push my hair out of my face and see Kenny's hooded sweatshirt moving as he looks around for cars. Kyle is there, too, in all of his red-haired glory, sitting in the snow beside Kenny and sorting through the trash. I step up beside them and pull my scarf down, smiling at them both. Kyle smiles back; Mr. Zipper Mouth. He has a particularly nasty pimple on the bridge of his nose, and I can tell that he was trying to pop it before I showed up. I sit down next to him and kiss his cheek, anyway.
"Hey Kyle," I sigh, joining Kenny in looking for cars. "Any luck yet, guys?"
"Nada," Kenny mutters, grumbling something under his breath and stretching for a moment in the sun like a cat. "Damn. This sucks ass. You'd think that Cartman would at least ride his bike past us or something. It's his day, after all."
"Shut up, Kenny," Kyle growls, even though I know full well what they're both talking about. The flesh on my arms crawls for a second at the thought of it before I shiver and the feeling goes away, and I lean into Kyle's shoulder, both to keep warm and to console him. His green eyes scan the street half-interestedly. "…The mailman's already come today…shit, Kenny, it's Sunday, everyone's home relaxing. Why the hell did we even come out here?"
"Because we have nothing better to do, that's why," Kenny replies. He looks down at me, as if expecting me to back him up. I shrug.
"…Why don't we go to the arcade or something, then?" I suggest, digging into the snow with the heel of my boot. "I've got change."
"Not in the mood," Kenny shoots quickly, and when I look back up into his face, his eyebrows are furrowed behind his hood. "…You know something? Maybe we should just go and bother Cartman. I'll bet he's already back there—"
"Shut the fuck up, Kenny," Kyle snarls, and I feel him tense against my side. Blue eyes shoot to green, and I see them exchange angry glances. They both know that I know precisely what they're yammering on about. Kyle just doesn't like talking about it as much as Kenny does, for more than obvious reasons that sometimes I get mad at Kenny for overlooking. I grab the green glove and squeeze it reassuringly, flashing a smile at our beloved redhead before I get to my feet and brush snow off of my butt. It's only around noon; we have plenty of time to do whatever.
"…You're right, Kenny, he's probably there already," I say gently, glancing down the road. The mountains loom on the horizon, imposing and uninviting, and I sigh and start the trek back toward town. Kyle follows alongside me, his hands jammed in his pockets, his head bowed, and Kenny just stands there beside his precious garbage, stunned.
"What? Where are you guys going?" he calls after us, sounding upset. "I thought we were gonna go piss him off!"
"Please, Kenny," I shout back. "Not today."
Kenny McKormick doesn't take shit from anyone, especially not girls like me. He throws a soda bottle at me and it bounces off of my head, so I flash my middle finger at him. He growls a few choice insults under his breath before I hear the crunching of snow beneath a third pair of boots a few feet behind Kyle and I, and I smile to myself. I do love them so.
I would miss hanging out with Bebe and the other girls if they all hadn't turned into such bitches. After fifth grade, Bebe and I became ex-best friends, and the other girls just stopped talking to me, slowly but surely. Bebe became the new "Miss Popular", "Queen of the Clique", because she got breasts first, and I didn't really care after a while. I still had Stan, and that was good enough for me. Besides, he always told me (and he still does) that I was a million times prettier than any of those other girls. Craig's fanclub; that's all that they are, really. Stupid mindless whores.
Kenny links his elbow with mine and I join my other arm with Kyle's, and we all walk together down the sidewalk, past Tom's Rhinoplasty and Raisins and into the arcade. I laugh at Kenny and push him once we're inside. "So much for 'not in the mood'," I say. He smirks at me in that twisted, eerie way.
"Well, you guys didn't want to go see Cartman, so what could I do?" he asks quietly. Kyle glares at his shoes darkly for a moment before he sees Pip and Damien at the air hockey table and loses interest in the two of us. Kenny kisses my shoulder before he runs off to play pinball, and I'm left alone in the doorway of the arcade. But that's okay.
I had my own reasons for coming here, after all.
When I walked by earlier on my way to the interstate, I had seen Tweek, sitting in the back-corner booth of the snack bar, with his face in his hands. I had paused for a moment and wanted to go inside to see what was wrong with him (he's had a lot of problems since about a year ago, when he got thrown out of his clique, just like me), but I hadn't. I had known it was Sunday, and I had also known that there wouldn't be any cars out today. If I could convince Kenny and Kyle to go to the arcade, then things would be okay.
But Tweek isn't in his booth anymore when I go to check on him.
Oh, great, I think, chewing on my thumbnail. He's probably in the bathroom.
I slide into his booth and immediately I can smell the traces of marijuana smoke, left on the seat from his clothes. My nose crinkles in disgust and I try to ignore it, drumming my fingers on the tabletop and looking around for other familiar faces as I wait for him to come back. I can hear Damien giving Pip pointers as he plays Kyle in air hockey.
"Don't come out so far! It gives him the advantage!"
"Oh, do be quiet, Damien, I was good enough to beat you, I can certainly take on Kyle."
I let out a single note of laughter and look back down at the table. It's chipped and scratched with age, and I can remember that Tweek has sat here for as long as he's been coming to the arcade. I can remember that Craig used to sit with him, and that in seventh grade, they used to sit under the table together. To be alone. It was sweet, actually. They weren't making out or anything, but everyone knows just how finicky Tweek is; Craig would sit with him and calm him down, hold him, sing to him. He would do whatever it took to get poor Tweek to relax. And it worked, more or less. Sometimes Tweek could go the entire day without twitching or screaming at random. But then Butters found the two of them under the table, and he told Eric, and Eric started making fun of the two of them. Craig kicked Tweek out of his group of friends, and dear Tweek hasn't been the same since.
I'm reminded of this fact once more as that horrible stink of burning rope hits my nose again. Tweek slides, hardly noticing me, back into his seat on the opposite bench, and when he finally looks at my face (though not at my eyes…he hasn't made eye contact with anyone since Craig "dumped" him), I can tell that he's been making himself sick again. There are dark circles around his eyes, and his brown shirt has tattered sleeves, like it always does. He's pulling at them now that he's sitting again, and I can hear them ripping slowly in his grasp.
"…I ate t-too much pizza, too much," he mumbles, and I feel sick to my stomach looking at him. "…H-had to…keep the f-fat off, oh God, he'll h-hate me more if I'm f-fat…can't have th-that…no…n-no fat…"
He's so thin that it scares me, and every time that I see him, I hate Craig even more. Tweek used to be so nice. Craig used to keep him happy, and he used to be the kind of kid who would take notice of everyone around him, whether it was in a nice way, as he would show with a smile, or in a more alarming way, as he would show with a shriek or a twitch or something of that nature. Now he just…he's hardly even human, anymore. The sunken cheeks flex and his mouth opens a little, letting him breathe more easily through his yellowing teeth. There's a bit of orange residue on his chin, and I feel my eyes sting with tears, pained by this terrible image before me. A boy living in civil society should not look like this. Not even Kenny has ever looked this bad. The mane of tangled, unkempt blonde hair sticks out from his head like he's just put his finger in an electrical socket, and I know that he probably doesn't even give a damn about it or anything else that's wrong with his physical appearance, which is really the saddest part. He thinks that everything that's wrong is everything that's right, and he'll never know otherwise unless Craig takes him back. That much is obvious to everyone. Even to Craig.
But Craig doesn't care.
Because Craig is a fucking bastard.
I reach forward hesitantly, and he grabs my hands and sobs. His head lowers down onto the table, and I shush him as gently as I can while I tug his sleeves up carefully and stare at his arms. Tiny, ugly bruises decorate the tender, otherwise pale skin of his forearms, and I know exactly what they're from. Heroin.
…God forbid Craig lives to see junior year.
Tweek moans indiscernible things to me as he sobs, and I do feel slightly uncomfortable here, sitting in the back booth with the druggie head case of South Park, but I swallow my pride and try to comfort him as best I can. I jerk the sleeves back down to keep everyone else from seeing and I pat his hands gently with my pink-nailed fingers, wishing there was more that I could do. No one can calm him down like Craig can. No one ever will.
…I have a hunch that Craig is out there with Eric. Off on "The Edge of the World", as it's called by the two of them. No one has to say anything about the unspoken agreement between Eric and Craig; since last year...even before then, maybe…they've claimed a little spot at the base of the mountains, deep inside of the woods, as their own. Sometimes they go alone, sometimes they go together. No one besides them knows exactly where it is, but everyone knows that if you accidentally wander into it, they'll know, somehow, and they'll get you for it.
They got Ike for it, about two years ago.
…No one except for Kyle, Kenny, Stan and I know just why they guard it as much as they do. And I doubt that we'll ever tell a soul about it. It's not something you generally brag about knowing.
Kyle storms up beside me, his eyes glinting irritably, and he opens his mouth to start complaining about how Pip cheated in air hockey before he sees Tweek sitting opposite me and his jaws clamp tightly shut again. His green eyes stay fixated on the bush of quivering yellow hair for a few seconds before he looks at me with his eyebrows cocked, and I give him a pleading look. He looks hurt for a moment but then he walks slowly away again, going to play pinball with Kenny instead.
Tweek sobs and chokes against the table, and I find my eyes drawn out the window; looking toward the mountains, again. There are clouds gathering around them, and my chest tightens, the darkness of that far-off storm pricking at my spine like some terrible omen. Yes, Craig is definitely off in the woods with Eric. There's nothing I can do about it, though, no matter how much I wish that there was. I hate Eric. I hate Craig. I hate that Tweek is as sick as he is, and I hate that Kyle thinks that he's ugly. I hate that Kenny doesn't seem to give a damn about how dangerous the world really is.
…I squeeze Tweek's hands and hope that Stan feels better, soon. Because Stan is, to me and Kenny and Kyle, that one last ray of sunshine in this god-forsaken mountain town.