Since Karen was in bed, I sat outside on the back steps with a can of beer. Our back yard was small with a few trees and a swing set that Karen wasn't using much anymore. I stopped using it myself when I was her age. Even though I still like sitting on the swings at the park. I don't think I'll ever let go of my childhood.

A car pulled into the drive way and my mother appeared next to me a few minutes later, looking tired and stressed like she did every night. She sat down next to me, looking over at the swing set. "I'll have to start thinking about getting rid of the swing set soon."

I looked at her. "Why?"

"Well, you don't use it and Karen's starting to out grow it, too. There's no sense of keeping it if we're not going to use it," Mom replied.

I sighed, "Yeah, I guess so. But it holds so many memories."

"And it'll hold more," Mom told me. "I'm going to give it to one of the girls at work. She has a young daughter who would love to have a swing set."

"Does the girl have a father?" I couldn't help asking.

Mom gave me a funny look. "You were eight when your father left us. I've tried to raise you and Karen the best I could. But, it hasn't been easy for me. I guess it hasn't been easy for you either. But, I'm glad you're willing to look after Karen when you'd probably prefer to do something with your friends."

"We went to the Curtis' house for dinner," I said. "I think Karen had fun with Soda."

"Anything else?" Mom asked me and I realized that it'd been a while since we'd talked like this."

"The school wants me to graduate in June. They have Ponyboy tutoring me," I said. "Mr. Symes wants me to write a semester theme and I'm thinking about writing about what's been like growing up without a father."

Mom nodded and grinned at me. She had the same grin I did. "You'll graduate in June, Two-Bit, I know you will. If you set your mind to it, you can do anything."

"Mom?" I asked.

"Yes?"

"Do you ever wonder what it would have been like if dad hadn't left us?" I asked.

"All the time," Mom replied. "But I think we've done okay, don't you?"

I grinned and nodded.

"I'm going to go to bed now, I have to work in the morning. Don't stay up too late." Mom gave me a kiss on the cheek before standing up and going into the house..

I stayed outside for several minutes before I headed inside and went to my own room for the night. I knew it was getting late and I had to go to school in the morning, but I wasn't tired. So, I found some paper and tried to work on the semester theme that Mr. Symes wanted me to write, remembering the things Pony had told me. But after an hour of failed attempts to start it, I decided to go to bed. The theme could always wait, after all, I had the whole semester to write it.