This world is hard, he thinks, and it never pulls a punch. He likes that phrase. It makes him think, if there's another dimension where things are just allowed to exist, just be without needing to live or die, and one of them were to ask him what it's like to be alive... If that happened he would immediately punch that entity in the face (if applicable) and say, “You've just been born and it only gets harder from here, still want to go on?”

It's selfish, really, to feel like he does. He knows there are people with worse lives. He knows they're still around and fighting. He knows and understands and commiserates but none of it makes him feel any better. The opposite, really. If he hurts this bad, if he can suffer so deeply, and he's still not any worse off than the average person? This world is fucked. This world is truly fucked. It is fucked hard, raw, bareback and infectious.

His name is Erwin. His world is not fucked. His world is complicated. His world is his story and, like any story, abounds with opportunities and decisions and the potential for both metamorphosis and stasis. Currently, however, he only feels stasis.

This is common. Erwin is an adult (or so they tell him) and is finding that his choices are starting to hold more sway on his story than ever before.

I don't deserve this, he thinks. Maybe he even says it out loud. He's got a choice to make. He doesn't have to make it right now, the opportunity will always be there, at least for the foreseeable future. But how much of the future is foreseeable, anyway? You can get a glimpse of the immediate future just by observing the present. Anybody can. You can get a glimpse of a hundred possible futures any time you want. But are you going to know which one to focus on at all? More likely than not you'll just miss the actual outcome altogether, it'll be something from way out in left field that will drop in and rape you before you know what's happening.

These are the little nagging questions that tear him apart. There are bigger things, more specific things, sure. There always are, he knows that. Still, his hands are shaking and his eyes are wet. He wants to cry, he can feel his eyelids burgeoning with the weight of tears, but nothing comes. He thinks, I don't deserve to die. He thinks in unison, I don't deserve to live.

His hands are shaking. His eyes are wet. He doesn't deserve to live or die. He's got a decision to make, and he doesn't have to make it now, but just not deciding is a decision by itself.

He thinks, should I

or should I