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All Eyes On Me, But Your Eyes Look Away

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On a dark winter’s night, the community of South Park came together – not in some form of celebration or holiday merriment, instead in remorse, guilt and grief. The Broflovski parents sat side by side, Sheila held tight in her husband Gerald’s grip, their youngest son sitting beside them – stone-faced, the silent tears edging down his face the only indication of his despair. The Marshes sat opposite, Sharon and Randy and their son Stan with his new wife Wendy. Others were dotted around, old school and college friends – all in varying stages of anger or distress. Kenny McCormick and Eric Cartman sat silent in their chairs, not a word uttered nor a facial expression shown, blank and empty.

“I just don’t understand,” Sheila sobbed from deep within her chest, her body wracking violently with the strength of her misery, “There was no indication anything was wrong – what would push him to this?”

If someone had asked Stan Marsh, which person out of his old fourth grade class was least likely to attempt suicide – Stan would have promptly responded, “Kyle.”

Kyle was strong-willed, determined, ambitious and hard-working, no matter what obstacles came into his path he overcame them – he faced prejudice on a daily schedule in the form of Cartman’s anti-Semitic remarks, but he still carried on with barely a flip of his middle finger and an uttered, “Fuck off fatass.” And yet, here they gathered, sitting outside Kyle’s hospital room after Ike having discovered him in a puddle of his own blood with his insulin injections laid strewn around him messily after a combined overdose and exsanguination. Ike, despite still being young and inexperienced, was a quick-thinker and without any hesitation had wrapped and put pressure on his brother’s wounds, phoned the emergency services handsfree and explained the situation in a calm, level voice. His immediate response had kept Kyle alive.

Stan turned his steely-eyed determination to the people around him, “Does anyone know what happened? What was wrong? Did something happen to him the day before, did anyone see him?”

Everyone within the room gave small shakes of heads, muttered “No, of course not”s and silent lowering of eyes, and yet Kenny hunched further in his seat, ducking his head from sight.

This was not left unnoticed by Stan, whom immediately latched onto the submissive movement, “Kenny? What do you know? What did Kyle tell you?”

Kenny hesitated, his eyes darting back and forth anxiously, “It’s not my place to say.”

“So you do know something! Tell us now!”

“Dude, if you know something, share it – maybe we can help Kyle,” Token encouraged, stepping from the mass of old school friends, forever the intelligent, level-headed young man he was.

“I can’t just betray Kyle’s trust like that, he told me these things in total confidence, I’m not going to be a dick,” Kenny defended, turning from the group obstinately, his eyes dropping to the ground.

“Kenneth please,” Sheila’s wobbly voice broke through the angry murmurs within the gathering, “If you know anything, please, tell us. I need to know what possessed my little boy to do this, he’s never been the kind to act rashly or impulsively – something must have led him up to this moment, to cause him to feel this was his only option left. I need to know why.”

Meeting the eyes of Kyle’s distraught mother, Kenny felt his resolve break, “I… Don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t think Kyle would want to either.”

“You’re not going to Kenneth, we’re all strong enough here to handle what needs to be said,” Gerald encouraged, casting his eyes around at the surrounding group of Kyle’s friends whom all nodded their agreement.

Hesitating, Kenny let out a frustrated growl and dragged a hand through his messy blond locks, before dropping it and turning an intense stare to Stan, “Kyle loves you.”

“Well of course he does, and I love him too,” Stan returned, stating it as if it were a fact no more hard to understand than that the sky was blue, or that we need air to breathe.

“No, Stan… Kyle loves you,” Kenny emphasised, at Stan’s continued blank look Kenny let out a bark of agitation, “He loves you like you love Wendy.”

Stan’s eyes darted to his wife, confusion colouring them as he considered Kenny’s statement, “But, that doesn’t…”

“Stan, he’s loved you since you were kids – he’s always been in love with you.”

“But, he didn’t… why wouldn’t he tell me? He told me everything, why would he not tell me something as important as this?” Stan floundered, his understanding of his entire relationship with his best friend was being thrown apart haphazardly in his mind, words spoken by his red-headed friend were taking on new meanings, heartbroken expressions giving him new realisations.

“Because he thought you would be disgusted by him and leave him, he couldn’t face losing you,” Kenny explained with a pained grimace, “He loved you so deeply he couldn’t handle not spending a day without you. He told me he could never tell you, that he would hide his feelings in order to keep you as his best friend, no matter how much it tore his heart apart.”

“When… when was this?” Stan demanded weakly, his head spinning with all this new knowledge, Wendy’s grip on his hand anchoring him to the present.

“Kyle spoke to me precisely two times about this. Once, when we were sixteen and he knew his crush wasn’t just a childhood phase that was going to fade anymore, and…” Kenny gritted his teeth, turning his head away, unwilling to admit the truth for fear of hurting Stan anymore.

“Kenny, please.”

“And… The second time was the night before your wedding,” the blonde admitted, meeting eyes with both Stan and Wendy desolately, “That, well that was a bad night for Kyle. But I thought things would get better now, you know? At the wedding, he seemed so genuinely happy for you guys, he kept smiling and cheering and I just thought… Well I figured now he could move on, that the wedding could be some form of closure and he could go out and meet someone new, some nice guy who could treat him right. I never… I didn’t think it would ever come to this,” Kenny choked on a sob halting his speech, tears falling fast and hard down his cheeks now as he furiously scrubbed at them, his girlfriend Marian immediately hugging him tightly to her body in comfort.

“Some nice guy…” Stan muttered in disbelief, “How long has Kyle been gay? He never said, he didn’t tell anyone!”

“Yes he did,” Sheila cut through Stan’s misplaced anger, “He came out to us as a family when he was fifteen – we couldn’t have been prouder, our boy was so strong and so determined, and he knew exactly who he was and he wasn’t ashamed of that fact. I always worried why he hadn’t found anyone yet though…”

“He told me when we were fifteen too,” Kenny added in.

“It wasn’t hard to guess,” Cartman spoke his first words upon entering the hospital waiting room.

“Oh shut up Cartman, can’t you keep your homophobia to yourself for one fucking day?” Stan spat viciously, “He just tried to kill himself, try and have a little humility won’t you?”

“No I don’t-” Cartman gritted his teeth in frustration, “I mean it was pretty obvious, with the way he looked at you. Whenever we’d go out to the clubs in college, we’d all be chasing the ladies, all Kyle would have eyes for would be you dumbass.”

“What do you..?” Stan stuttered, his eyes wide and his head shaking slightly in a combination of shock and repressed denial.

“When you got drunk and ended up in a pile of your own puke, who would drag you home, clean you up and look after you the next morning? Fuck knows it wasn’t me or Kenny,” Cartman scoffed, rolling his eyes exaggeratedly, “When you had another break up with Wendy and would sob like a little girl in your room, who was always there to wipe your tears and play videogames and watch movies until you smiled again?”

“But that doesn’t mean-”

“When you had that fallout with your parents, back in second year,” Kenny’s hollow voice cut through Stan’s denials, “Kyle stayed with you the entire time. He missed an important exam and was forced to re-sit the entire course, alongside his other subjects.”

“I r-remember in high school,” Butters meek voice edged into the conversation, he kept his eyes to the ground and bumped his fists together anxiously as he brought back old memories, “Kyle had that important sermon thing at the synagogue, well I-I don’t know what it was about, but Kyle was sure excited about it – said it was his first chance to be the chanter or something, and that was really important to him, b-but then, well, you had gotten drunk at school and said those words to Mr. Thompson and then run away into the forest behind the school,” Butters paused his eyes drifting up to Stan’s anguished ones, “And, well we told him to just leave you, that’d you come back yourself when you were ready, told him his reading was only an h-hour away he’d better get ready, but he was just so worried for you, and said you would always be the single most important thing to him in his life. That nothing, not even God, was more important than you were to him.”

It was at these words Stan finally broke, his tears choking him as Wendy gripped him fiercely to her, trying to sooth his sorrow, but Stan broke from her hold turning determinedly to the people around him, “I need to see Kyle, I need to, I need to speak to him, we need to discuss this.”

“No, you don’t,” Ike spoke, his tone void of any emotion – the tears continuing to silently trek their path downwards, “You need to stay away from him.”

“Ike!” Sheila chastised in shock.

“No mum, I won’t let him near my brother,” Ike’s expression transformed into one of unadulterated loathing, “You’ve ruined Kyle, this is all your fault, and I’m not letting you hurt him any longer. I know my brother, he didn’t try to kill himself because he had lost hope, he did it because you kept giving him new hope. You’d go to Wendy, but keep coming back to him, building upon the false hope inside his heart, he’d keep thinking – ‘maybe this is the time’. You were tearing him apart piece by piece every time you came running back to him. He’s never had the opportunity to look for anyone else because you’ve never gave him the chance. You need to let go, enjoy your new life with Wendy and don’t look back. Kyle needs to build himself a new life, he needs to meet someone new, someone that will make him happy and not leave him at regular intervals on a whim, he needs you to leave him alone,” Ike finished viciously, standing from his seat and crossing over to Kyle’s room, clicking the door shut quietly yet resolutely behind him, leaving nothing more than a stunned, heartbroken silence in his wake.

Stan Marsh stood from his seat tiredly, his mind felt like a hurricane had turned everything he knew to be fact upside down and his heart felt like it had been torn from his chest and held before him in a morbid parody of his treatment of Kyle over the years. He took one last look at the door to Kyle Broflovski’s hospital room, wishing for both his health and happiness, before taking his wife’s hand and turning to leave the hospital, turning his back on Kyle for one last time.