I am endless. That is my downfall: I am endless. When it all crashes down, fails, dies – There I am, forced to exist. It will never be any other way.
I woke up at 12:00 AM. Always the same time. Like a machine, perfectly programmed. I always came back at midnight. The sounds of my house were quiet, stifled. Dad snoring, Mom yelling at him for being such a fuck up. Karen crying.
I can still remember the first time I died. I was terrified, pallid and incredulous, my heart a palpitating chorus of fear. I was eight years old…
Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and I were throwing rocks at passing cars, lazy and indolent and just whiling away the time any way we knew how. Crossing the road. Going to go up the street. Got bored of the rocks, the throwing, the angry yells of the drivers. The summer light was glimmering down, making the asphalt swelter, and god how I still remember the smell of it, so industrial and urban. A strange thing when you've grown up living in a town the size of South Park.
A car, roaring down the stretch of road towards us. Foot to the pedal like we weren't even there. The other three were in front of me. I didn't think, couldn't think… I simply reacted. Shoved them, hard as I could. Lashed out at them, willing them out of the way of the oncoming danger. The mechanical beast hit me head-on, and in that moment, that infinitesimal moment before I died, I thought, 'This is okay. Dying can't be so bad. I am going to die. I am about to die, and I will never see the light of day again. But they're all safe, all three of them.'
I woke up that night, 12:00 AM. And it never stopped. No, I just kept on existing. That was the one constancy in my life: I existed.
We were at Cartman's. Ten years and we were still just screwing around, getting in deep shit, playing video games. It was a tag-team game and I was with Cartman. Because Stan and Kyle, well… there had never been any question about it. It just happened like that. It was the natural order, something that had always been.
The days were getting longer and longer as senior year winded to a close. The town was a quiet trove of indelible restlessness, its limbs heavy with the sweetness of summer. It had always been this way, but this year I was feeling it more saliently than I ever had. I was thinking, contemplating.
To think that there was this whole, immense world out there – that South Park was just this insignificantly small little bit of the whole thing… it was a mindfuck. It was impossible, at least to me. It was all I'd ever known. And there was so little time left. Even now, I felt like I was wasting it all, sitting here and thinking all this pointless stuff as we blasted zombie brains into the heavens. Because no matter how much my mind pored over these awful little nothings, it was never going to change any of it. I wasn't ever going to change any of it.
Stan and Kyle and Cartman, they were all cut out to do something in life. Maybe I had always known it, ever since that first time I died. Maybe I had always known that they would amount to more than I would, that their fucking net worth was more valuable than my own.
In any case, they were all going to leave. Leave South Park behind, leave each other and leave me, and go out into the big, cold world. I always knew I would stay, probably end up like my fucking dad. There was nothing about me that would suggest otherwise, no brains like Kyle, initiative like Stan, cunning like Cartman; I just had… me.
I beat Stan and Kyle in the game, and Cartman gloated over it, victory through association. I was good at that. Video games, I mean. But what's a goddamn video game, anyway? Pointlessness.
I have died for them so many times that I have lost count. I do it over and over. Why? Because I can? Because I'll always come back, without so much as a scratch, come 12:00 AM? No. It's because I love them. I do. Yeah, I guess that's pretty gay or whatever. But they're my best friends. I fucking hate them sometimes, like when they rip on me for being poor or screw me over or whatever… but that doesn't change the fact that when it comes down to it, there's a reason for what I did that first time I died. That first time, I had no way of knowing that I had this gift, this curse, this… whatever you'd call it. No; that first time, I died for them because I loved them. Because I would die for them even if I couldn't come back.
I've done it again and again and it's become something of a second-natured habit, really. I've done it without thinking about it. They never remember. They'll never know. But it's okay; it's actually probably better that way. I wouldn't want them to feel indebted to me; it'd just make it all worse once it was finally time for them to leave.
They'd squirm and feel awkward. Feel like they owed me something, like they couldn't leave. They'd feel sorry for me; god, how I'd hate for anyone to feel sorry for me. I really would. And I would just be holding them back from their potential. What's the point in dying for someone if they don't at least live their life to fullest afterward?
12:00 AM came again. This time it involved a rabid Pit-bull, a German warhead, and Mrs. Garrison's genitals. Don't ask; really, just… don't ask. I was exhausted. Dying was painful, despite the fact that I always came back. It hurt. A lot. In a way, I was almost looking forward to when my best friends would finally be gone. Because something told me that once the three of them left this town, everything would be a lot quieter around here. Maybe I wouldn't need to die so much.
I shifted to my side on my bed-less mattress, beneath my shabby blanket. I did then something I haven't done in so long. For the first time in years, I cried. Hell, I wasn't even aware of it until the dampness crept down my cheeks, silent and endless. The tears came and came and didn't stop, and I didn't try to stop them, either. Wouldn't have known how, anyway.
It would be summer in a week. It would be summer. And then, in a few months, it would be autumn again. By the time it began getting chilly once more, the winds picking up around Stark's Pond, Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, and Eric Cartman would all be gone from this place.
Hell, I thought. I would even miss Craig; heartless, indifferent, monotonous Craig. I would miss Token, who would surely do great things, that rich bastard. I'd miss Wendy Testaburger, because there was no way she'd stick around with smarts like she had. Bebe would probably go to Hollywood, try to land a role in some movie. And it was all happening so fast. Where did a decade of my life go? Lost in the forevers that were South Park, lost in the minute folds of time. Lost. Years that we could never get back, that I could never get back, no matter how many times I died.
Graduation was a relatively peaceable affair. I mean, what did you really even say? "It was nice knowing you my entire life", "It was great having everything I ever did revolve you guys", "Well, bye then"? No. What was there to do?
The ceremony began at the high school, which was decked out in all white; white bouquets adorning the hallways, white banners, and white paper cranes hanging on invisible strings, looking unsure about whether they'd fly or fall. Wendy and Kyle had tied in the race for valedictorian, the first time in the history of South Park High School. They'd written their speech together during the delectable June nights, much to Stan's discontentment.
While the night was still young, we all came back into the town, celebrating under the country night stars. Everyone in the streets, over at Stark's, in the old elementary school. I couldn't bring myself to go over there, because I'm not sure what would've happened, seeing the old playground, looking at the windows of the old classrooms. Just the thought of it made me a little nauseous.
That night, I felt inexplicably dare-devil-esque. I felt empowered. I felt like leaving a mark, even if only to have it forgotten by 12:00 AM. Even if it would mean nothing to them; because, it would mean everything to me. One last show, one last one for old times' sakes, brought to you by the one, the only, Kenny McCormick.
They were setting off fireworks out in a rotation crop in disuse, the ground consisting of dusty dirt; the perfect place. Fire trucks stood by, nonetheless. As the pyrotechnic workers prepared the next firework for launch, I pushed through the warning tape and jumped onto the thing, clinging to it with my bare hands. They screamed at me but it was too late. I was soaring into the air, I was bursting hundreds of feet from the ground, I was exploding, the flames licking my body. I hoped it was beautiful for them. I really did.
The thing was, what if I did die? What if I died, what if my life ended and then I came back... without them? What if they weren't here? I didn't know how to deal with that. There had been so many times when I'd wished that I really could die – would it really be that bad? That's the thing; there's no way out for me.
My downfall is that I exist. I will never not exist. I will always be here, peripheral and forgotten at times, left here by myself. I will live through it all, unable to leave even if I had wanted to. I will watch everyone I love move away, on with their lives.
But what is life without death? That is why my life will never have the same value as anyone else's; without death, there can be no life.
I will watch them all grow up, get jobs, raise families. Maybe we'll send holiday cards, talk on the phone once or twice a year. I will watch them get old. I will watch them die. And I will never be a part of that. Because I will always exist. But I will never be alive.