Along Came a Spider
Chapter 15: Epilogue
I search for the letter I wrote Dally three weeks ago, unable to find it anywhere. Darry has been yelling at me to move it, since we have a long trip ahead of us. The Metal of Honor is being presented to Steve and Soda tomorrow in Washington D.C. Since I've never been outside of Oklahoma, I'm excited to see all the monuments we've been learning about in school for the past six years or longer.
"I'm hurrying….I'm just looking for something." I say mostly to myself, since I know Darry is too worried about packing everything into the truck to listen. He's nervous as anything, as am I, and I think maybe it's a good thing that Steve and Soda went ahead of us with their army buddies. I grab my jacket hastily, and take one last glimpse across the room. Sure it doesn't mean much, since it's not like Dallas can read the letter anyways, but I'm still upset at loosing it. Damn, I think to myself, I left it right here. I know I did.
"Pony, let's go! The plane leaves in an hour!" Darry hollers from the front door. I tug at my heavy suitcase and leave the room.
"I thought I had loaded everything!" Darry whines, taking my bag from me.
"Jeez Darry, you have a girl waiting on you or something?" I gripe sarcastically. He gives me one of his looks, doing his best to suppress a smile.
"We're on a tight schedule." He says in his 'I'm warning you' tone. I roll my eyes and jump into the passenger seat of the truck.
"What are the chances of getting into a plane crash, again?" I ask nervously as he starts up the truck.
"Slim….unfortunately." He mutters back. I sigh dramatically.
"Dar, chill out. It'll be fine." I assure him.
"Yeah, that's what they all keep telling me."
The applause of the audience is overwhelming as Steve steps off the stage. He's just given his acceptance speech, and managed to do so without using 'aint' or cussing even once. I have to admit that I'm impressed, and by the look on Darry's face, so is he.
"One down." He says, looking slightly relieved. I can tell he's proud though, despite his anxiety. He just knows Soda's not going to be able to contain he's joking nature. Of course, it probably would have eased our nervousness if Soda had let us read his speech before hand, but he had been set on keeping it secret until today.
I look around me at the hundreds of soldiers and soldiers' parents, and I think that I couldn't be more proud of my brother if he had saved the universe from evil aliens. Some of the Generals have tears in their eyes, undoubtedly mourning the loss of a son or grandson. I realize how lucky I am to have my brother home, alive and well. Both of my brothers, I remind myself, stealing a glimpse at Darry. I can't stifle my laugh as Darry's eyes grow wide watching Soda take the stage.
His lieutenant shakes his hand, saying the usual speech about him being honored to have him under his command and what not. I try to pay attention, but I can't get over the fact that Sodapop is standing on stage, surrounded by so many cameras and people. I'm sure he's having a field day in his head.
Soda finally stands awkwardly in front of the podium, spreading a folded piece of paper across it. He shoves his hands in his pockets and smiles anxiously.
"It's uh…it's truly an honor…" Soda starts, looking at the soldiers in the crowd and Steve sitting right below him. "It's truly an honor to have fought for my country with these men and others that couldn't be here today." He pauses, takes a breath, and goes on. "However, the biggest honor is being able to have my family here today…" He says, glancing at Darry and me from his place on stage. "They mean so much to me."
"I was thinking a lot about what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it, but it never seemed quite right on paper. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't…couldn't get what I wanted to say to make sense. I started to think that maybe I was going crazy, but I guess I wasn't that lucky." Some of the people in the audience laugh, others just smile, understanding where he's coming from. I smile myself.
"But uh, but then my brother said it all for me. You always we smarter than me." Soda addresses me. Some people follow his eyes to look at me also, and I shift uncomfortably with pride and some other emotion that I can't describe.
"He said that um….he said that 'People say that everything happens for a reason, but I think that sometimes that's not true. I think some things just…happen…'"
Well, it's been fun. I hope you guys enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Tell me what you think, and feel free to leave any ideas for a new story. Thanks again,