The Night She Fell

He sat alone in his room, sobbing. To truly understand his life, we must first understand the room he was in. Alone. We can’t look at anyone else, anything else. We must look at this boy’s room. When you enter through the door, with the paint chipping from it, showing the faded, rotting wood it hides underneath, you come face-to-face with a teenage boy’s room. The room is no bigger than a dormitory. To the far left is his bed, with clean clothes thrown on top of it, needed to be folded. Across from his bed sits his desk, which has his computer sitting on top of it. The desk is overwhelmingly cluttered with simplistic designs of suits and costumes he’d been working on. There’s also a picture of him with his uncle and aunt wrapping him in a hug after his eighth grade graduation. He wears a goofy academic hat, and a long gown. In the picture, his glasses shine back the flash from the camera. 

There’s also a picture of his girlfriend. It originally sat next to that image; one of the last he had of his uncle alive.  He’s holding that right now, though. His tears splash against the frame and the glass. He’s shaking now.

Back to the room – a LEGO set sits on a shelf that is covered in books. Books about biotechnology are sprawled among the floor. In the middle of the floor lies his suit.

The blue and red suit has a large spider-like shape on the back. It’s very much homemade, full of patches of different cloth in it to keep it ‘consistent,’ whatever that means for him. There’s a large tear on the back, right through the spider logo, from where he stretched too much earlier. Years ago, he came up with the name “Spider-Man” to be his heroic identity. He’s still sobbing.

He clenches his fist and slams it down against the desk, hitting the glasses that he hasn’t had to wear in years. They’re crushed by his fist, destroyed in a mere moment through the absurd strength that the skinny, tall boy somehow possesses. There’s no glass in the frame, so plastic and metal is left crushed as he shakes it off.

Peter Parker has had too many bad days.

His face is red and it’s at a point where he has been crying so much that tears no longer flow. As he blinks, he sees her. Then he sees his uncle. For a brief moment, he sees his best friend. He sees the people he has failed. Constantly, through Peter’s mind, he keeps hearing you failed, you failed.

But what he’s mainly remembering is the tower.

.

.

The musty, wet environment, how it smelled of mold, of being untouched since its construction, how it was in dire need of a cleaning. He stood across the way from Norman Osborn, clad in his goofy getup. The Green Goblin smile glared at Spider-Man, unchanging as his purple cap flowed in the wind. Norman held in one hand an orange bomb, and in the other hand he grasped Peter’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. 

Gwen was wearing her lab coat – when she was kidnapped she had just left her lab class. She tugs at Norman’s arm, kicking and trying to escape his choking grasp on her. Her blonde hair was messed up, and her eyes were full of panic. 

Under the mask, Peter was panicking. Somehow, Norman Osborne was back as his arch-nemesis. Peter, in his very limited knowledge, from the few AP credits he had with psychology, and the brief class he took for a gen-ed, couldn’t figure out how this happened. This man had amnesia; he was seemingly a good man. But… How is he back?

He was also panicking because his girlfriend, struggling and begging for help, was being held by this mad-man. She was probably freaking out, she had no clue why she’s the one being held like this. She doesn’t know that Peter is Spider-Man, and because of this secret, she’s being hovered in the air by the Green Goblin. Stay calm, Peter. He thought, Stay calm for her

“Jeez, Gobby. I-I,” He tried to quip, “If you have your memories back, you could’ve had a new outfit.”

“It’s best if you don’t speak like that, Spider-Man! After all, I’m the one with your love in my arms!” Norman, upon exclaiming this, started with a soft laugh. It continued to build up, getting louder and louder until his laugh turned into a cackle. 

“S-Spider-man, help…” Gwen pleaded.

“Don’t worry, I’ll help you.” Peter assured her, “Drop her, Norman.” His lens started to fog up, the sweat and perspiration clouded his vision. He needed to figure that out; now he thinks he should’ve figured it out sooner.

“Drop her?”

“Put her down, I don’t want to hurt you.” 

“Fine, Parker. If you want me to drop her, then so be it.” Norman loosened his hold on Gwen, over the ledge of the tower. It was as though time froze for a second – a second too late. Parker’s mind started to work overtime. She’ll begin falling at 9.806 meters-per-second, accelerated by her weight. Luckily, Goblin didn’t throw her; that would’ve complicated things. There’s no water below this part of the bridge. If she falls, it’s splat. If she was to grab hold of a ledge, her arm might break, but I’d at least be able to web her up. Yeah, he’s got this.

Gwen, upon hearing ‘Parker’, widened her eyes. In her brief moment, she had realized everything. The bruises and scars, the fact that some nights he’d have burns similar to being hit by electricity: Peter, her love, was Spider-Man.

“Peter!” She exclaimed.

Her legs kicked in the air, her scream loud as Peter – not Spider-Man – dived for her. This was no longer a hero saving the damsel. This was a boy who needed to rescue his love. In a blink of an eye he pictured their future; how they’d continue dating through college, how he hoped to marry her. He closed his eyes; he saw her holding her stomach, both of them dressed in Spider-Man sweatshirts, decorating the tree. Gwen Stacy was his life. She was the first person that he ever genuinely loved; when Ben died, he threw himself into this work, his world of vigilantism. But her blonde hair and her beautiful smile brought him into a new world; a better world.

Peter Parker now couldn’t imagine a world without Gwen Stacy. He made a leap for her, webbing the air behind him so he could hold on to the side of the tower. Another web, and another. Gwen approached impact. He needed to act fast.

It was the fatal web that killed her.

As the web connected to her waist, Peter tugged it up. The snap of her spine caused a brief sonic sound. It was loud, echoing through Peter’s ears. His eyes widened, and he made a leap down to her. He placed two fingers to her neck, checking for a pulse.

Nothing.

Panic started to settle in for Parker. The worst of his nightmares came true. The Green Goblin’s laugh descended upon him.

“You failed, Peter.” He says, “Now you know. Now you know what it means to fall.”

Spider-Man removed the mask. Peter sat still, staring at the corpse that laid in his lap.

“Yeah.” He grumbled.

“…’Yeah?’” Goblin repeated.

“Yeah, you’re-” he’s in shock. How could this happen? “You’re right. But you’re not going to get away with this.” He didn’t know how he could prove that to Norman. He was just saying words to say them. 

“Right… Sure…” Green Goblin knew he won. “Well.”

Norman glared at the unmasked Peter, who was sitting still, letting it settle in. … Do I let him grieve, or do I take this as my chance to squash him once and for all? Osborn wondered. He stood on the hoverboard, letting it stand still.

“Go away.” Peter said.

“You’re not going to fight me?”

“… You won, okay?”

“Ah… I see… You got it, Parker.” The Green Goblin started to cackle again as he flew away, leaving the boy and his dead girlfriend alone. Norman’s the winner.

.

.

Now we’re here. Peter Parker has just crushed his glasses, he’s sobbing his eyes out. They had found Gwen’s body a few hours ago when he placed an anonymous tip. J. Jonah Jameson was already putting out slanderous articles about how it was Spider-Man’s fault. No, it wasn’t slanderous. Parker thinks, It was my fault. 

But it was also Norman’s doing too.

Peter stares at himself in the mirror. Dark circles started to form under his eyes, how drained he was from the tears. He was going to make a house call.

.

.

Peter, dressed in the torn and damaged Suit, stands outside of Norman’s penthouse door. The lights are on. Closing his fists in, he punches the door open, stepping inside. He was angry; all that was going through his mind was how he wanted to kill this guy, end the fighting once and for all. He freezes up upon seeing Norman, though. Norman is sitting on the other side of the room, watching the fireplace. On the mantle is the Goblin mask, and next to it is his glider.

“I figured you’d come.” Norman says as he looks to Peter, “Go ahead, sit.” He motions to the other reclining chair, holding a remote. This wasn’t what Peter was expecting; in fact, it took him out to see this. The active disparity from what had occurred mere hours ago to Norman, sitting by the fireplace in a robe, made him feel a rage previously unfelt, yet it confuses him so much that it was like a flashbang to the mind.

So, Peter sits down.

“The fire is so beautiful, isn’t it?” Norman asks, “Red like your suit, moving with life. Yet you’re not shining. W-What I mean is that you’re moving like a robot. Did I really win, Parker?”

Peter stays silent.

“I don’t think I did, to be honest.”

“… How?”

“Well, to tell you the truth, I expected more from you. It’s on brand for you to rescue her… Do you remember the first time we fought?”

“Of course, I do. In the middle of Central Park, swinging through trees, webbing bombs. It was awesome.”

“Yeah. It’s funny.”

“Why?”

“Like an old love, I am nostalgic for that. Those early days. But you’re a mere child, and I’m getting older. You’re going to feel the same way with her – the nostalgia. You’ll think about Gwen every day. I hate you, Peter. I loved you at first, like a son – a better son, one that’s not an addict, one that’s smart, doesn’t waste their life – but I hate you so much. You take every opportunity I have to succeed and you throw it to the wayside. You defeat me, I come back, or I lose my memory… It’s always you that does this. And I hate you so much for it. I hate this cycle, and even when I succeed, I don’t feel it… I don’t feel it now.”

Peter stands up and walks towards him, “You took Gwen from me, Norman. I loved her. I hate you too. The last couple hours, I’ve thought about killing you. How I’d do it. I could web a noose for you, wrap you in a web and suffocate you. But… now I’m here. God – I can’t believe I’m hearing you out. I should just kill you now.” He stands over Norman now, looking at him.

“Go ahead and do it, Peter. Kill me. Just like you killed your uncle and your girlfriend. You’ll think of me every day, just like them. And when you inevitably kill your aunt, you’ll think of us. If you ever get married, have a family, they’ll all inevitably die by your hands. We’ll haunt your mind. You take me down, it’ll only make your life a living hell. Do it.” Peter clenches his fists. Usually, he holds his punches, but he was about to go into it with all the strength in the world; he wanted to squash Norman like the insect he is, “But know that it’ll be your responsibility. Just like Gwen’s death was your doing. You will never, ever make it stop.”

He loosens his fists and turns around, “No.”

No?”

“If I did that, it would never take away the fact that she’s gone. I may have lost her. I miss my Uncle every day, yet I live with that pain because that’s what he’d want me to do. I’m not going to kill you.” He removes his mask, “Look at me when I tell you this; look at the real me, the one that’s under this stupid mask. Ultimately, you’ll never win. If I killed you, it’s what you’d want. You’d still succeed, and that’s a win in my book. So Norman, as much as I hate it, I’m not going to kill you. Just being you is a fate worse than death.”

The sobering reality settled in for Norman. The wrinkles and creases on his forehead softened, his eyebrows widen, and he found a new peace, previously unseen. “I see.” 

“I hope I never see you again.” Peter says before leaving. He walks through the shattered door, and upon leaving, he feels the tingle on his neck, the sixth sense that something was wrong as he hears the glider turn on and swiftly move, and a groan as bones break. He turns around to see Norman Osborn, lying dead in his chair, the glider stuck in his stomach, the remote in his hand falling to the ground. He impaled himself. Parker can’t help but cry. Two deaths in a day; two important people in his life, but on opposite ends of the spectrum. He takes off his costume, revealing the shorts and the Empire State University t-shirt that Gwen bought him underneath. He throws the costume away in the trash can outside of Norman’s apartment, leaving the dead body and his vigilante life behind… for now. 

Peter Parker has had too many bad days, but he hopes that tomorrow will be better.

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