Phantom Life

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters but I wish I did because someone needs to clean Marvel up. R/R if you remember the good, old days.

The body hits the car with a sickening thud. A woman jumped off of a building a few seconds ago. The gel was beautiful, her eyes an incredible shade of blue. Not as blue as Paige's but almost. You wonder what makes someone kill themselves, what makes 'em so daft that they'd give up living. They don't know how bleedin' lucky they are to live. No one does except those who don't live anymore. Those like me.

There's a law in science called the Law of Conservation. It states that you can neither create nor destroy energy. All you can really do is change its state or displace it. I suppose I should thank it since it lets me still exist. Yeah, big prize that bloody well is. I stare at the girl. She's beautiful still. Why'd you want this so badly, luv? You think life is so bleedin' hard because you're not a mutie anymore? You think you're left with nothin' because nobody'll curse at you or spit on you? You're a damn foolish little gel then.

I turn away from the sight, the sight that I can still see without having eyes. I mentally note the color of her eyes despite my lack of a brain and I walk onwards without legs. I am energy now. My body resides in Midtown Hospital, hooked up to so many wires you could stick a pane of glass in me chest and call me a ruddy telly. I'd probably get bad reception though. But my spirit, my consciousness, whatever in bleedin' hell makes me who I am, it floats on through this world. The giant wave of energy tried to fix me. This is what I get, the final slap in my non-face that says I can never be cured. But this little gel, she got to be human again. Maybe it really is a mad world we all live in.

I walk on through the streets of New York and stop at a pub. I remember places like this. I remember the feeling of a guitar in my hand and staring out at dingy, dimly-lit barrooms. I remember playin' my heart out for drunks and druggies, for teenage kids with fake IDs and all the other misfits of this world. I remember Gayle used to tell me that I lit up those rooms. I would make them my own. That was . . . a long time ago, so long ago that I can't figure out if it ever really happened at all.

There's a phenomenon with amputees. You still get little feelings of what used to be there but isn't anymore. It's called a "phantom limb". Your nerves haven't completely died there yet so you still feel some sensations you shouldn't. But I wonder as I stare at the pub whether or not there's such a thing as a phantom life. What happens when your life stops but you still feel things from it? Maybe you go insane, the memories eating you alive. In any case, I still feel things connected to my former life. I still feel loneliness.

Paige came to see my body once. I know because when I came to see it later there was a lipstick mark on the forehead that wasn't there before. The room smelled really nice too, which is strange since I can't really smell at all. She always smelled fresh though, fresh and clean in a good, earthy way. Clean in an innocent way because she had been raised away from the bad side of life. She was raised clean, clean and pure like sunshine on a summer day. I didn't expect her to come see me. I don't rank too high on her priorities these days. It's kinda funny in a morbid way. I spent too much of our time together moping about how I lost me face. Now I lost the rest of my soddin' body. Shows you how much of an idiot you are, that's what that does.

I remember the first time Paige kissed me. I remember when she took me back home with her. I remember when I told her I loved her while I knelt before her dying body. Hollow memories passing through the hollow head of a hollow man. I can still remember so many things and feel so many things. Her lips as they pressed against where mine should've been. Her gentle fingers as they touched my hand or my cheek. The way she laughed, like music. My sight turns back to the car. Paramedics and cops are here now and they all ask the same question. Why? You don't know how lucky you were, gel. You had the rest of your life ahead of you and so did I. Couple o' idiots we were to throw it all away, huh? But you still get the better deal, luv. Better to die knowing that you lived than exist wonderin' if you ever really lived at all. I sigh without lungs and move on, a ghost who can never find peace. I'm the hollow man now, the hollow man who feels all the pains and longings not of simply a phantom limb but of a phantom life that can never be again.