This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

They don’t all die. In an infinite universe, an infinite number of them die, but an infinite number, just as well, live. This one never had a chance at a fancy School for the Gifted, nor was she picked up by any fanatics within a Top Secret Government Organizations.

This one is just as scarred as all the rest, just as scared, just as furious, only she’s never known anyone, those who might’ve been friends, or even just teammates.

This one is currently locked in a battle of fists and hate, her expression twisted into a grimace of fury. Her full lips are parted, revealing a snarl, her teeth wet with blood, some of it dripping over her chin. A long multistriped scarf is clenched up in her fists and wound about the neck of a pasty-skinned man three times her width. He looks astonished, himself, and is struggling to kick her, to bring her down, his own expression twisting into red-faced agony and eye-bulging determination, but she is tall and daddy-long-legged, and can mostly stay out of his way, dancing around, twisting him this way and that.

More than a few blows land on her, however–and it looks, from the ragged tears on her clothing and the bloody knife on the ground was once his–that she’s beginning to lose the struggle.

“He was three,” she growls at him. “Three fuckin’ years old, Kevin–”

“I don’ give a shit,” Kevin snaps, half-bluster, half-fury of his own.”

She talks right over him, as though he were silent. “–and you gave his ma somethin’ hot–”

“Fuggin ho can’t handle her shit, not my fault, y’crazy bitch!” he yells.

Still, she keeps talking, almost calm, her voice low, her voice angry, and only for him. “–an’ she strapped ‘im inna fuckin’ chair, an’ she sewed his fuckin’ mouth shut–”

The big man chokes, looking like he might vomit, and gurgles out, “Fuggin’junkiewhore ain’ my fuggin problem–”

“I’m MAKIN’ IT YOUR FUCKIN’ PROBLEM KEVIN!” she shrieks, giving him a tooth-rattling shake, and then her voice goes low again, calm and determined. “Three years old. His name was Dion. They found him Four. Days. Later, Kevin,” she says, using his name again and again, as if to drive home that she is talking to him. Handing over this guilt she found, she feels, she knows belongs to him. Here, I noticed this belongs to you and I feel like you should have it back.

“She was dead on the fuckin floor ’cause her heart gave out, and that fuckin three year old got himself outta his chair and laid down on his momma, his momma who fucked him up after you fucked her up. She’d been clean for Eight. Fucking. Months, you piece of shit. He curled up with his momma, and he fuckin’ died on the dirty kitchen floor,” she hisses, tears rolling over her cheeks, streaking through blood. “His name was Dion. Say it, Kevin. His name was Dion. SAY IT.”

He gurgles again, twisting, trying to kick, and she actually lets go of him, of the scarf, doubled over as though to catch her breath. She lets him fall back to hit the wall of the alleyway, and push himself up.

“Say it,” she says, wiping her face with the back of her fingerless gloves. “His name was Dion. You killed his ma on purpose, n’just as on purpose, y’killed him. Say ‘is fuckin’ name, Kevin.”

“Ain’ sayin shit,” he rasps. “Ain’ sayin shit. Dirty fuggin crackho momma ain’t my–” And then his face goes even more pale, and he seems to lean back against the wall, flattened there. “–th’fuggyou doin, crazy bitch?” he gasps.

The girl, all blood and tatters and a wild mane of beaded, braided, ribboned, natted hair looks up at him, and the tears from her eyes darken, and turn red, spilling, looking like warpaint. “Say his fuckin’ name,” she whispers.

“Dion,” the man wheezes. “Dion Travers. Name’s Dion Travers. Dion Travers!” he says, his voice going high as he begins to panic. “Fuckyoucrazybitchwhatyoudoin? DION! I SAID IT! DION!”

She looks weakened, but watches him as he writhes on the wall, as a no-wind-no-sound touch begins to stir up the debris and garbage in the alleyway. The world crawls with unseen pressure.

“Whattayougonnadonow?” he whines, still struggling.

She spits blood, and stands, slowly, her face a mask of dead, despite the bared-teeth grin curling her lips. Her eyes are reddened, bloody, and she says, her voice toneless, “When you get to hell–”

“No you don’t, you fuckin crazybitch–”

“–I really, really fucking hope–” she says, taking a step toward him, lifting a hand.

“–fuckfuckfuckfuckYOUgoddamncrazy–” Full on panic, now, and he gags and his eyes roll as he struggles, violently, against nothing and no one. A dark stain spreads down the left leg of his low-slung jeans.

“–that you get to feel this, forever. You know? Because this is what he felt–” and she takes another step closer, and lays a hand on his chest.

“–NoNONO!–” He howls, but the sounds are covered by cars honking, sirens wailing, brakes squealing, whores calling, gangs shouting, kids playing, feet walking, tires squealing, dogs barking, every bit of life the city itself has to offer, a symphony to cover his fears and her sins alike.

“–while he cried to the one person who could’ve saved him. Just like you’re doin now–” she says, her voice low again, quiet.

“I’m sorry! I’M SORRY! I’M SO FUCKIN SORRY!” Kevin bawls, nearly incoherent in fear and misery.

“–t’me. I know,” she says, spreading her fingers out over his sternum, splaying them long and wide. “His name was Dion. And I get that you’re sorry, Kevin. I do,” she says, and her hand flattens against his chest, and all the strange pressure, the strange touch that moves through the alleyway coalesces, and there is a shockwave that seems to move through Kevin, and his last shriek of protest dies in his throat as he jerks, as something in him gives, as the front of his chest caves in with a startlingly wet crunch, and the wall behind him becomes slickly painted, deep red and glistening pale as his insides become his outsides, front to back.

She lets him go, then, drops the refuse of his leftovers against the alley floor, and stands there, staring down at him, at it.

“But sorry ain’t good enough.”

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