"Not All Bad"
Kenny sat alone on the swing set, swaying back and forth slightly and staring at the snow on the ground. He was oblivious to the other kids whizzing back and forth around him. Even when one of them smacked him in the face with a snowball he hardly flinched and simply brushed the snow and a lock of dirty blonde hair out of his face. A couple guys and girls had approached him earlier in an attempt to break him from his daze, but like old wounds he ignored them and made up an excuse such as being super tired or hungry to make them go away. It was strange, seeing everyone acting like they cared that he was there, but he knew better.
In reality he really was tired, though. He didn't necessarily sleep last night, unless one considered shooting yourself in the face and dying sleep. He remembered pulling the trigger and then opening his eyes to the dark ceiling of his bedroom, but everything in between felt like empty space when he thought about it. He remembered shouting at Cartman for being an asshole and then shouting at that Cthulu monster. He remembered that man appearing in that wavy mirror thing, then feeling a glimmer of hope, and then…nothing.
His hands tightened around the chains of the swing.
A familiar scenario began to play in his mind. It was another dreary morning. He woke up to find himself in his old worn-out orange coat. He yawns, gets up, gets dressed, and has a slice of bread for breakfast before grabbing his small bag that's supposed to be his backpack. The sun greets him as it always does, smiling that mocking smile as if the events of yesterday never happened and that today is all that matters. Some days he liked the sun, its warmth pleasant on his face and providing more heat than his own house, its brightness pushing away the clouds and guaranteed a clear day, and it just feels like nothing will go wrong. But then, some days he wished he could strike it down with a nuclear missile, rip off that damn annoying smile and stomp on it hundreds of times, pour endless amounts of liquid nitrogen on it…and then smack it in the face with a shovel.
Today felt like one of those days…
He arrives at the bus stop, and his friends are already there. Kyle and Cartman are arguing about something retarded and Stan is shaking his head, no doubt trying to push out the sounds of their voices. He takes his usual place by Cartman and patiently waits for the bus. Perhaps today I'll get to see it arrive, he says to himself. And for the rest of the day, his life is paranoia hell.
The bus arrives though, and he hurries on board. So far, so good…
He closes his eyes, clenches his fists, grits his teeth, and when he opens his eyes he sees the school in the distance.
Okay, doing fine…
He gets off the bus and rushes through the school doors with everyone else as the morning bell rings.
Hey, I just might make it today, he thinks. But his memories keep him from being too optimistic.
The bell rings, schools over and he moves towards the bus station.
And then, out of nowhere…he gets crushed by a UFO…
There's pain, oh yes there's pain, and then a feeling like falling through space or something. Sometimes there's a light, other times there's fire below just waiting to swallow everything whole. But even in the confusion, the end result is always the same; he's suddenly awake in his bed and in his coat, good as new, as if the entire horrible experience was nothing more than a dream.
When Kenny first discovered this, he was almost excited by the fact that he couldn't die. Well, he could die, but he came back to life every time. The idea that he, the poorest boy in all of South Park, had a superpower was awesome. His friends had talked about how scary it would be to die, but he would never have to be afraid. Ever. He could shake hands with Death and not feel the smallest ounce of fear. He could do anything without worrying about dying, and it felt like it opened up endless possibilities. His imagination went wild…
But then he started to realize something. Whenever he asked anybody about what had happened, not a single person recalled anything about his death. Not the witnesses, not his family, not even his friends who almost always saw him die remembered anything and would carry on with the day without a single care in the world. Perhaps everyone not remembering wasn't so bad, as he was not sure how he could have a normal life when he was known as "the poor kid who died yesterday." But the fact that no one cared that he died, or could die…it struck a blow more powerful than any stampede or spacecraft could. In an instant a marvelous gift had become an unbearable curse.
And he thought he was so close…so close to discovering why he had this curse. After a while he no longer cared if he was destined to die every day for the rest of his life. He didn't care if his family never talked to him again. He didn't care if he really was the only one who could take down that monster. He didn't care if no one would ever remember the terrible things he had been through. All he wanted was a single answer as to why he had this power, why he was immortal, why he was the lucky one in the entire universe to be born with this curse. When that weird bearded man appeared, it felt like God himself had FINALLY decided to throw him a bone. After all the blood, all the searches, all the pain and memories, he would finally know why. Then he could at least die with ease of mind whenever it happened again.
But NOOOOOOOOO! He didn't even get that! WHY?
Fucking Mint Berry Crunch… What the hell…
Kenny slumped lower into the swing. He could hear someone calling him, but he did not know who it was, nor did he care. He felt lost and confused, almost like Starvin Marvin over a year ago. He wondered why he even bothered getting up this morning since he knew everything about the day was going to suck. If he was doomed with this endless cycle, why bother with anything anymore? He ought to just sit here and wait for someone to shoot him "accidentally" or for a train to run him over or for him to spontaneously explode for no reason or…
"Hey! Earth to Kenny!"
Someone kicked him in the shin, making him almost wince. He looked up to see Stan staring at him with raised eyebrows and was holding a football. Kenny grunted.
"Come on! Quit moping around play some football with us."
Kenny stared off to the side.
Stan rolled his eyes. "Uh, dude? It's because you're good and we need you on our team."
Kenny blinked. "You need me?"
"Yeah! You're the best running back we got and since Cartman's suspended for who knows how long for that whole Cthulu thing we're down a player. Besides, Clyde sucks ass at catching. It's gotta be you."
When Stan received a meager groan from him he suddenly felt himself being pulled off the swing and dragged to the other side of the playground where there was the most space. Kenny did not struggle against him, only thought about how this would not end well in the slightest. By the time he was aware of his surroundings again, he was kneeling down in a familiar formation with Stan gazing around at his teammates. After a moment's thought, Kenny realized that this was the same play Stan used to score against the Cowboys last season, and as if it were instinct, he knew what he had to do. The ball was snapped, and he took off down the field while dodging opponents. He glanced behind himself just in time to see the football sailing towards him. He reached out and caught the ball and kept running, leaping over another opponent. In what felt like a blur, he saw himself zooming between two cones placed at the other end of the playground to represent the end zone. He skidded to a halt, kicking up powdered snow and he suddenly heard cheering behind him. He turned around to see his teammates running up to him. Kyle and Token each gave him a high-five and the others patted his back. Stan then arrived and put a hand on his shoulder.
"You see, Kenny? That's why you'll always be a part of the team. Well, one of the reasons, anyway."
Kenny looked at him directly this time. "…Always?"
Stan smiled. "Yep. You always have that...I don't know, something that makes you better than these other guys. It also doesn't hurt that you're our friend, and have been forever. Unless you screw up like Cartman, it'll stay that way, don't you think?"
Kenny did not answer. He clutched his arm, falling once again in deep thought. But this time he didn't feel empty or even angry. Despite the cold weather and the events over the last several days, he felt rather…warm and light, like the time when he got to use that golden PSP or when he survived last year's Christmas. Despite all the horrible things he had experienced, Stan, Kyle and Cartman were always there to greet him on a new one. They may never remember any of the bad things, but they always came back to him rather than abandon him altogether. He still had friends throughout it all…and he never said thanks for sticking around.
"Come on, Kenny!" Stan called out to him. "A few more plays like that and we'll win this game!"
Kenny tossed the football to Stan and followed his teammates. And underneath his coat, a smile slowly appeared on his face.
Well…perhaps things are not all bad…