I've known that the world is a shitty place since the day I was born. The first time. And honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way. I feel bad for people like Butters. Those people who get shit on almost constantly by the universe, but still wait patiently for it stop, wipe the shit off their face, and smile. Who are they kidding, really?

Now, most days, I can convince myself that the world isn't shit. There's a difference—I'm pretty sure—between shitty and straight up shit. The difference is that I always know that my friends will give me half their lunch when there isn't any food in my house. They do it without me asking because they know I won't. The difference is that when I drink myself to passing out over by Stark's Pond, I more often than not wake up smothered in the warmth of Butters's bed. The difference is that whether my parents hate each other that day or not, there is always somewhere better to be. The difference is that I at the very least have a shirt on my back and shoes on my feet. The difference is that, while I have very little else and sometimes hate every other person on Earth, there are some pretty fucking awesome people in my life.

The difference is Stan and Kyle. There isn't really an "even though" statement for this one. I firmly believe that Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski are the difference between pretty shitty and complete shit. I would seriously tell that to anyone. Having a bad day? Take a look at those two fuckers over there. They'll restore your faith in a New York fucking minute. What'd I do to deserve such good friends? I sure as shit couldn't tell you. I wouldn't even be friends with me. I'm consistently a shitty friend, which is saying something because I'm not even consistently around. Between the drinking and drugs and girls and all the other dick moves I pulls, I honestly have no idea how the most impatient kid and the most pessimistic kid in my class are my best friends.

That's not really it though. That's not the reason they are the difference. It's more that they exist. The two of them, a team, a duo, that gay super-best thing. It's the fact that even when it seems like no one in the world truly belongs together (my parents, Cartman's parents, Stan's parents, Stan and Wendy), I know there's no way that's true. Because I know as sure as I know my own name that Stan and Kyle were made to be together. OK, stop your fangirling; not like that. Believe me, I have my theories, but no proof yet. The point is they're Stan and motherfucking Kyle. There is no just Stan and there is no just Kyle. And there's nothing that makes the difference more than that.

I don't like to admit it because I like that I have the lone wolf thing going for me, but I wouldn't mind at all if I had that someday too.

So, you've got the backstory. "The world hates Kenny!" "Yeah, but he loves his friends!" Both things: true. But, I don't want your pity because that's not the point here. The point is that now you know that I would do literally everything I could to keep those two together. Because they're kind of my faith, you know?

My faith is kind of on the rocks right now. And by kind of, I mean really. I can't remember the last time these two fought. We had to have been kids and those weren't even real fights. Stan's depression is the only big thing I can think of and that was more of a miscommunication. Plus, you can't really blame someone for being depressed and, as is true with most of the bullshit that goes on in this joke of a town, we were way too young to have to deal with it. I think today is the first real fight Stan and Kyle have ever had.

I also think it might be my fault. At least, partially, indirectly. It was my idea to go camping. Mom and Dad have been especially violent lately and Kevin literally smokes himself into a coma every night. So I dragged Karen over to Ruby Tucker's house, drove to Stan's house, opened the garage, loaded up the truck with everything one might need for camping, and then made Stan and Kyle get in too.

They hadn't wanted to. Kyle was acting like a whiny little bitch, which, of course, is completely normal. The only weird thing was that he was doing it to Stan. I didn't pay attention to it though because I'm a retard and, as previously mentioned, consistently a shit friend. I'm also one of those people who likes silence or, at least, isn't bothered by it. It's comforting to just drive. With my friends at my side(apparently already hating each other's guts, but I hadn't exactly figure that out yet), the windows slightly open, leaving South Park and everyone in it behind.

Kyle was the first one out of the car when we got there. He struggled to tug his hat on over his hair because honestly it doesn't fit anymore, but no one has the heart to tell him, and shrugged his coat over his shoulders. "I'm going to take a piss," he declared, stomping in the direction of some trees.

"Bring back fire wood," I called, while throwing all of our shit out of the truck bed. It's cold as a tit right now and I could tell it was going to be from the moment we got here. I looked up in time to see Kyle flipping me the bird. "What's up with him?" I asked Stan, who was trying to set up our tent.

"It doesn't fucking matter," he muttered in reply. I think this might've been my first clue that all was not right in the perfect little solar system that was Stan and Kyle.

I had never really considered the logistics of a Stan/Kyle throwdown before then. For starters, I figured, throwdown was definitely the wrong word. There wouldn't be punches thrown. Even if there were, they'd be more of the love tap variety. Kyle wasn't…strong, exactly? And Stan wouldn't be able to actually hit him. I've been on the receiving end of a Stan Marsh sucker punch, and I'd be the first to tell you that shit was throbs.

The whole scenario played out in my head. Kyle would say something stupid. Something he knew without any doubt would piss Stan off to the point of no return and then stand there, a smug, little dickhead smirk on his face. Asking to be hit. Basically, begging. In reality, it'd be more like daring because if Stan ever actually hit him, Kyle would throw the biggest shit fit ever. I was certain of that. Stan wouldn't hit Kyle. He'd want to, but wouldn't. Would probably cock his arm back, mad enough to seriously lose his shit on his best friend in the whole world, and then choke.

As faggy and lame as all of that sounded, I was so glad that was what would happen. I depended on them to decide to "use their words" –something I have been told to do again and again, but can't get the hang of – because words were more likely to keep my faith in one piece than a good, ol'fashioned whaling was. I just hoped that this word usage would take place sooner rather than later because, even though I had no idea what everyone's damage was, I felt somehow caught in the middle.

Since I'd been spacing out, I didn't really notice that at some point Stan had left. I was standing alone in the clearing, our camping shit thrown all over the place. I shrugged, figuring he'd gone to take a dump or something. It was sketchier that Kyle wasn't back yet. That's a long fucking whiz. And we needed firewood. And I sure as hell wasn't about to light a fire. That's probably one of the worst ways to die. Common ways at least. Things that have happened to me more than once. There have been some straight-up terrible things that are more of a once in my lifetime occurrence. Here's to hoping, that is.

I finished setting up the tent. It was already beginning to get dark, a reminder that our 2 month long, tops, summer/fall was coming to an end. Within a few weeks, everything would be undoubtedly buried in snow. Stan and Kyle are big boys, of course; but the idea that they would know what to do if some freaky forest shit went down was a complete joke.

Thus, I was worried. I sat. To go after them or to not go after them. That was the question. And the answer I picked was not. I haven't really decided if that was the wrong answer or not.

Stan and Kyle did make it back, which I guess is the important thing here. That's a weird thought. Me living and them dying. It'll happen someday I guess. They'll both be dead and I'll just continue living and dying and living and dying. I've thought about it before. But I try not to. There aren't many things more depressing than that. I'd have no faith, for starters.

However, they weren't exactly in one piece. If we're talking… fancy and deep right now, they were two pieces. Stan. Kyle. Not Stan and Kyle. Kyle looked, fuck, angrier than I'd ever seen. And Stan looked sad, like the anger had passed, but he just couldn't say that word yet. Maybe that word wouldn't even fix whatever the fuck they had done to each other. I didn't know. Still don't.

But also, they weren't in one piece in the more typical way. Their faces were scratched, Kyle had the faint outline of a soon-to-be shiner, their jackets were dirty, Stan's hat was crumpled up in his hand. I'm still not one hundred percent on how they managed to scratch each other – they're not fucking cats – but, it was obvious that they had done this to each other. Stan had hit Kyle. Hard enough to mark him.

You know how people always talk about their jaws dropping, but it's not real? Like how in cartoons their jaws drop to the floor? That's how I felt. I think my mouth probably was open. They just stood there in front of me, strangers to each other and aliens to me. My brain was trying to find something to say. But there weren't words for the way I felt. Well, there is. I just thought of it now.


They hadn't come to me. Hadn't trusted me to be able to fix them. Maybe I wouldn't have been able to, but now we'll never know.

Kyle was the first to move, shaking his head a bit and stomping away from Stan, past me, and into the tent. Stan opened his mouth once Kyle was gone. His eyes were staring into mine with that depressed intensity that Stan wears like his whole life has been one disaster after another. Even though that's my life. He apparently had no words either.

Then, I shook my head at the ground, turned on my heel, and marched in to the tent. Kyle was wrapped up in a sleeping bag already, but his eyes were open. He pointed to the bag next to him. "Sleep there, please." And since I know Kyle, I knew that meant sleep there or I'll never speak to you again.

I nodded and grabbed a porn mag from my backpack, just because shit was already awkward and Stan's entrance would only make it worse. I lay down and opened the magazine, swearing I could feel Kyle's bitchy eye-roll.

Stan came in a while later. We just laid there. All of us so full of faggy emotions that we didn't have the words to express. Stan and Kyle were both turned away from me, but I knew they weren't sleeping. I had never felt so caught in the middle and I didn't even know what had happened.

And that's where we are now. I wonder if this would've happened if I hadn't made them go camping. I wonder if it somehow has to do with me. I wonder why nobody wants to tell me. I wonder if it can be fixed. I wonder what happened.

I wonder, but I don't think I want to know. Because, right now, even though my two best friends are glaring goddamn swords at each other across my body, I can tell myself that this will be better in the morning. I can tell myself that we're 9 years old and they're fighting about what to name a fucking caveman or some shit. I can tell myself that I will never be without faith.

If I know though, if I know why Stan wouldn't tell me what was wrong when I asked, why Kyle has a full-blown black eye at this point, why I feel like there's an elephant sitting on my chest, if I know and it isn't something that can be fixed, I think it might suffocate me.

What would be the difference between shitty and complete, utter shit? Would there even be a difference?

Stan and Kyle are the only thing that I can depend on in life. So, I'm completely dependent on them. Do I like that? Fuck no. I wish I didn't need anybody. Because that'd make it so much easier to be me.

I picture myself, floating. Lost. In a world that is entirely shit to its core. I find myself unable to picture Stan without Kyle or Kyle without Stan because I've never known those people. The elephant feeling on my chest presses lower and try to think of the last time I cried. I don't cry. Ever. I close my eyes instead.

I tell myself that everything will be OK in the morning because without any faith in this fucked up world, I'm pretty sure it'd be impossible to be Kenny McCormick.

I tell myself that the difference always works itself out.




If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!