Chapter 24: The Ink Left Behind

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September 24, 1965

Colly,

            It’s been a month and I’ve been missing you like crazy.  I’ve already seen war and killed an enemy.  Steve’s doing great, excited as ever; you know how he gets.  It’s warm here for now. Captain says in the next couple of months it should get colder.  We have about seventy pounds on supplies on our backs and we’ve hiked around mountainsides.  Even though there’s a war here, it’s stunning.  A US camp a couple miles down was raided and our troops are on alert 24/7.  How’s Ponyboy? Is Darry treating him alright?  How’s the gang?  Dally in jail again?  I miss you so much and I miss the gang too.  Steve misses you guys too.  He carries around that picture of Evie everywhere.  I’m doing great, I haven’t had this much adrenaline in forever.  Believe it or not, there’s a couple Socs from home here too.  We invade an enemy’s troops tomorrow. 

                                    With love,

                                                Sodapop Patrick Curtis

I folded up the paper that Soda sent from Vietnam.  The ink soaked the yellow paper of a journal.  It had been a two months since he left and this was the first letter I got.  I was relieved that he was okay, but knowing that he missed me pissed me off.  I told him not to go and now he was regretting leaving.  He was, right?  Tears rolled gently down my cheek.  ‘Sodapop touched this paper with his hands.  He was the last person to touch this piece of paper.’ I thought to myself trying to bring us closer together.  All I wanted was for him to come back to me. 

“Whatcha got there?” Darry asked looking over my shoulder. I was sitting at the kitchen table.  He caught a glance then quickly remarked, “Oh.”

I sighed.  Everyone was treating me like a child ever since Soda left.  I guess it was because they thought I couldn’t handle it and thought I was ‘emotional’ about the subject.  “I know what you’re thinking.” I said looking up at him.

“And what is that?” he asked turning towards me.  Ponyboy just walked into the room with his lip cut up.  He got into a fight at school with a guy from his track team.  Darry yelled at him a little, but he wasn’t as loud as he normally gets. 

“You think I can’t handle the truth.  Well let me tell you something, I know that Soda’s chances of coming back alive are slim, but I have hope.  Did you know that he asked about you? I’m not a child!” I argued with him and walked into my room, clutching the letter.  I sat down at the desk and shoved my head in my hands.  It felt like I was going insane, I was having constant anxiety attacks.  My heart would race and race for hours and no matter how much medicine I took, it would never go away.  Ponyboy followed me into the room.

“I don’t think you’re a child.” Ponyboy said from the doorway.

I looked back, “Close the door.”

He closed it and sat down at the end of the bed, “I’m as worried as you are.  Soda is the only person I can talk to.  Darry doesn’t and will never understand me as much as Soda does.  I know what happens in war.”

“I thought you and Darry quit fighting as much?”

“That doesn’t mean he gets me.” He responded. 

“People get judged here and misunderstood.  We’re all misfits.” I paused, “Don’t you have school or something?”  

“You do too.” He protested.

“Yeah, but you’re actually smart.  Go to school.”  I demanded.

Ponyboy got up and walked out the door, “It’s Saturday, actually.”

I clicked my pen and ripped out notebook paper.  Where to start?  I must’ve gone threw half the notebook trying to jot down ideas like an English paper. I started to write lies.

 Sodapop’s POV

Dear Sodapop,

            Everything’s going good at home.  I’ve almost got half the money for the wedding; now you’re committed.  Life at war sounds stressful, but it sounds like you’re managing. Ponyboy’s still in school along with Two-Bit (big shocker).  We all miss you guys a lot and can’t wait til you get back.  The Soc’s have been extremely quiet; they haven’t wandered into our territory for a while.  We think they’re having a crisis in their social group.  Darry is as happy as a clam because Sally and him are still dating, so he’s been going easy on Ponyboy.  We’re all trying to stay out of trouble just in case.  Even Dally is starting to become a model citizen; he isn’t littering as much.  I’ve been fine, things have been slow like usual.  I miss your sweet little kisses though, your oil streaks from the DX, your late night cuddles on the couch, the surprise visits at work, I miss the boy that would follow me around town with his buddies trying to find out who I was dating.  I miss my greaser.

                                    Love Always,

                                                Colly

P.S.

Here’s something to top Steve’s picture.

Inside the envelope was Colly’s school picture that smelled like her perfume.  Knowing her, she lied about half of the things in the letter trying to cover up her true feelings.  I missed her so much. I haven’t kissed her in two months!

“What’s that?” Steve asked walking into the tent.

“Something from Colly.” I said blankly still staring at her writing. 

“Yeah, what’s yours say?  ‘I miss you.  Blah, blah, blah, new shoes, Blah, blah, blah’.” He imitated. I didn’t answer, and he continued, “Yeah, Evie sends me one of those every week.  It’s nice getting them, huh?”

“Yeah, real nice.” I said finally as I stared at my bride’s picture. 

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