Carrying two bundles of roofing up the ladder, Darry looked out across the road. He saw two young men, about his age, talking and laughing together. If only he could do that. But life hasn't been that kind to him.
His parents had died in a car accident, leaving him to be the guardian of his two younger brothers, Sodapop and Ponyboy. His dreams of going to college came crashing down around him. He couldn't leave them. So, without complaint, Darry gave up the idea of going to college, and roofed houses for a living. Why had this happened to him? Darry could not understand. With love and dedication, Darry provided for his small family with the help of Sodapop.
On top of the roof, Darry began work. Pounding each piece into place, Darry worked hard. When the two were in place, Darry backed up, preparing to go down the ladder. When he placed one foot on to the ladder, the ladder wobbled, falling to the ground with his foot stuck inside. Darry fell to the ground, along with the ladder, as it toppled on top of him.
His head hurt. He heard Jeff, his coworker, call to him, "Darry! Are you all right?" Before Darry could answer, he passed out, trying to remember who Darry was.
"Hello?" Soda answered the phone. I watched him as his facial expressions changed. Something was wrong. The fear on Soda's face made that clear. I sat there, waiting to figure out what disaster was upon us this time.
"Where is he?" Soda asked. Oh, no, I thought. It must be one of the gang, or maybe. . .no, not Darry. Please don't let it be Darry.
Darry is my oldest brother. Though he's always yelling at me, I know he loves me and I love him, too. A few months ago, Darry had hit me because I was late coming home, and he was mad and scared. It upset me that he hit me. It made me think he didn't love me anymore. But when I returned home almost a week later, I realized that Darry loved me. He just cared so much that he was trying to make something out of me. That's why he yelled so much.
Since then, Darry and I have gotten along a lot better. We still have arguments every now and then, but we're too different not to. Whenever he yells at me, instead of getting mad at him, I think of why he's doing it. It helps to know he's doing it because he cares.
Soda hung up the phone and looked at me. "It's Darry." He said. "He fell of the roof of one of the houses he was working on and broke his leg. They think he will have a concussion, and he has a few broken ribs. He's at the hospital. We need to go."
I followed him out to the truck. As we pulled out of the driveway, our tires screeched, and we were on our way.
At the hospital, I walked silently with Soda. He got a hold of one of the nurses, trying to figure out where Darry was. When we found out where he was, we went to see him.
There was a doctor waiting outside for us. He smiled at us and said, "He's doing well. He should be able to go home in about a week. We need to run some tests to make sure there's no damage done to his brain, but he should be good as new very soon. You can go see him now."
We walked into Darry's room. He was laying on the bed, limp and dead-like. I felt goose bumps on my arms and tears spring to my eyes. The strong older brother looked weak and helpless laying there. Soda and I each took a seat on a side of his bed. I was to his left, with Soda on his right.
"Hey, Superman." Soda said. "How you feeling, buddy?" There was no response.
We sat there with him for ten minutes, when he started to stir.
His eyes looked confused and frightened. He looked around the room, and then at Soda and I.
"Soda?" He asked in a hoarse voice.
"Yeah, buddy. It's me. Pony's here to." He said, nodding toward me.
"Pony?" He asked.
"Yeah. I'm here." I said in a shaking voice.
"Who's Pony?" Darry asked.
I felt the blood drain from my face. The tears were threatening to spill over, as I tried to regain my composure.
"It's Ponyboy, Darry. You know, your brother?" Soda tried.
"I don't remember Pony." He said sternly.
"Okay. Maybe you'll remember tomorrow. How are you feeling?"
"Like I got hit by a bus." He said, chuckling without humor.
"Ladder, actually." Soda said, grinning.
"What happened?" Darry asked, still confused.
"Well, from what I hear, you got your foot stuck in the ladder and the ladder fell, taking you with it."
"So that's why my leg hurts."
"Yeah, you broke it."
"Go to sleep then. We'll be back to check on you in the morning before I go to work."
"Okay." Darry said, as his eyes closed and he fell asleep.
"Let's go, Pony. He needs his rest."
"Okay." I said, trying to make my voice sound normal unsuccessfully.
"Hey. Just because he didn't remember you doesn't mean anything. They said he had a concussion." Soda tried to comfort me.
"Then why'd he remember you!" I asked, angry and sad.
"I don't know. He'll come around in a few days. Just wait. He'll come back to us."
I wiped at my eyes, trying to dry the tears. Sodapop looked over at me and then placed his arm around my shoulders. I took a quivering breath to calm my emotions. We went home and went to sleep. In the morning, we'd go see Darry.
When we got to the hospital, Darry was awake and sitting up in his bed. He looked sad and confused. When he saw Soda, he brightened. Though Darry didn't seem to remember anything else about his life(or family), he still remembered Soda. He knew Soda was his brother, and that brought comfort to him in his confused state.
"Hey, Soda." He said, laying weakly back on his pillow.
"Hey, bud. Ponyboy's going to stay with you to keep you company after I leave. Is that all right?"
"Sure. I don't care. I'm just glad I'm not in a room full of strangers still."
It was so weird. My tough, strong brother looked so vulnerable and defenseless in this big hospital. I don't think he understood what was going on, and it scared him.
"Okay, " Soda said. "If you're cool with it and feeling all right, I'll go to work. Take care, Darry." And with that, he left.
I sat down next to him. He looked at me intently.
"Do I know you? You look so familiar."
If you want to know what it feels like to have your heart torn out of your chest and then stomped on, it's having your older brother who you love so much not know who you are. I felt tears form in my eyes. I bit back a sob and said, "Yeah. You know me."
We sat there in silence. Darry fell asleep a little while later. When he woke up next, Sodapop came in the door.
"Hey, guys. It looks like you've been having fun." Soda said.
"Not really. I've just been sleeping." Darry replied.
"Well, that sounds good to me. You ready to go, Pony?"
"Yeah." I said, not too enthusiastically.
That night as Soda and I lay in bed, I began to think about how Darry has forgotten me. I just couldn't understand it. I thought he loved me. I know he has a concussion, but he still remembered Soda. Did he love Soda more? It just didn't make sense to me.
Tears slipped down my cheeks, and I was surprised Soda seemed to notice. He turned over from his side of the bed and put his arms around me.
The tears became sobs as Soda held me. I was so confused. I thought Darry loved me. What went wrong?
"Listen, kiddo," Soda said in the darkness. "Darry loves you just the same. He's always loved you and he always will. Don't worry about it. He'll come around soon."
It wasn't much comfort to me, but I was able to sleep better with the protection of Soda's arm around me.
The days went by too slow for my taste. Each day(since it was summer), Soda would drop me off at the hospital while he went to work. Everyday Darry didn't recognize me, and it was nearly killing me.
On Darry's last day there, I was supposed to stay a little later than usual. Soda was going to some party with Steve, but he said he'd be at the hospital around eleven for me. On his lunch break, he came to see me and brought me some lunch. It helped the day go by a little better, but it was hard still.
Around nine o'clock that night, Darry awoke from his nap. He looked at me strangely, and then said, "Who are you?"
"Remember me?" I asked. "It's me. Ponyboy."
"No, I don't know any Ponyboys." He replied.
I couldn't take it anymore. I broke into sobs and I sat down, my back toward him so he couldn't see my pain. Darry sat back and closed his eyes, falling asleep again.
I looked at him on the bed, and I thought of something to do.
I got into bed with him. I lay by his left side, and fell asleep there.
When I woke up, the only thing I noticed different was that Darry had an arm around me and my head was on his heart. I could hear each thump as his heart beat steadily.
When I got up and walked toward the door, a strong hand grabbed by wrist. I turned to see Darry looking at me.
"Ponyboy?" He asked.
Tears of joy filled my eyes as Darry finally recognized me. "Yeah," I said. "It's me."
Joy overwhelming me, I jumped into bed again and hugged him tightly, while trying to keep from hurting his leg. Darry's strong arms came around as he held me close. He didn't let me go(though I wouldn't have let go, either) until we noticed someone was at the door.
We both looked up to see Soda looking at us, tears in his eyes.
"Come here, little buddy." Darry said. "You might as well join the group."
Soda came and lay on Darry's other side. Hugging and laughing together, we lay there. We stayed there all through the night, as the three of us slept soundly for the first time in a long time.