"Can you kill me, please?"
I must have looked startled because her expectant gaze saddened a bit.
"I'm sorry. What?"
"Can you kill me?" Her face brightened as she repeated the morbid probe.
Confused, I couldn't help but notice her rather familiar clothes. Faded pink jeans, knock-off Converse shoes. Little black hoodie with a torn right sleeve.
"You just looked a bit angry and I figured you'd be the best person to ask."
I stood next to the bench. My backpack dug into my shoulder and I shrugged it off. It'd be awhile before the next bus came anyway.
She looked down the street. The dim lights barely revealed the closed shops and leaf strewn sidewalks. A short breeze caused the dead landscaping out front to rustle gently but now, it seemed slightly ominous.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked." Her voice was hollow and even though she was turned away, I could sense the hint of disappointment.
Sighing, I sat on the other side of the bench. Pausing for a minute, I glanced up at the mostly hidden stars. The light pollution made it harder to make out their pinpricks but I managed to spot a few.
"There's the big dipper," I lamely pointed to the stellar collection. The bell on her necklace jingled as she also looked up.
"Ya know," I continued. "Whenever I'm feeling worthless or insignificant, I always look at the night sky. Because it always reminds me that I'm right."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her frown. Her blue eyes narrowed with confusion.
"I don't get it."
Glancing up behind me, the tree branches blocked further investigation.
"It reminds me that I actually am insignificant. That's how we're supposed to be. It's not wrong or crazy. It's actually very realistic."
I leaned back on the bench causing it to creak. A few more stars had survived the glare of the lights. Both of us watched them in silence.
"So..." She looked at me, jingling. "Even if we were to die..."
"The stars would continue on. They don't need us to burn in space just like these trees don't need us to grow. They live for themselves and don't need us telling them how hot to fuse elements or how deep to stretch their roots."
After another silence, she laughed slightly. "Aren't you supposed to, I don't know, try to talk someone out of dying if they mention it?"
I couldn't help but grin, "Is that what you want me to do?"
She leaned back. Her small frame barely caused the bench to shift. "No. I guess I really don't."
Now smiling, I watched the leaves stirring in the deserted street. "I never liked it when people told me what to do. Their opinions don't matter."
I glanced over at her. She was playing with the torn edge of her sleeve. Her black painted nails were cracked and chipped.
"So...does your opinion matter?" The blue eyes still looked a bit confused.
"I don't know. If you think it does, then it does," I glanced back up at the deepening sky. A few of the streetlights had switched off and the glare had receded.
"Each of those stars up there," I nodded to the expanding collection, "is vast light-years away from the next. They're all different yet on a fundamental level, they're all made up of the same stuff. They don't even tell each other how hot to burn so they're hardly concerned with what we do."
The girl brought her legs up onto the bench and hugged her knees. Her eyeliner traced eyes contemplated the void above us.
Resting my chin on my hand, I gazed up as well. The tiny specks of light faded in and out slowly, almost lazily. Unconcerned with who watched and admired them.
"Still want me to kill you?" I looked over at her.
She leveled my gaze with hers, "Don't tell me what to do."
Laughing softly, we enjoyed the vastness in silence until a bus rolled up to the stop. The number wasn't mine but I was no longer concerned.
The girl sprang up from the bench and stopped on the first step. The bus driver looked less than amused by her energy so late at night. Over her shoulder, the blue eyes looked at me one last time.
"I'm glad you missed your bus," she called. With that the doors closed and the air lock brakes pushed away fallen leaves.
I watched it until it turned out of sight. Leaning back on the bench, I was greeted by my own insignificance before the speckled void.
"I am too, kid. I am, too."