Once Upon A Summer's Day

It was mid-July. The sun was high and hot in the sky, and the small gang of boys played in the neat yard of a small house.

Eight-year-old Darrel Curtis, Jr., laughed as his four-year-old brother, Sodapop, attempted to climb a tree unsuccessfully. Four-year-olds Steve and Johnny and six-year-old Keith egged Soda on, and Soda slipped down the trunk again.

"You can do it, Soda!" Steve yelled, clapping his hands.

"Yay, Soda!" a small voice called out. Darry turned to see his youngest brother, Ponyboy, stumble across the lawn. He walked up to him and scooped him up, tickling him.

"Day! Stop it Day!" Ponyboy giggled.

"Yeah, Day," Johnny teased.

"Aw, shuddup," Darry said, "He's close."

A woman came out to the front porch, smiling at the six boys. Her golden hair sparkled in the sun, and her white teeth glinted as she laughed at Soda's failed attempts.

"Mommy!" Soda yelled, "I can't climb it! I can climb the tree out back, but not this one!"

"That's because this tree isn't big enough to grab onto, Sodapop. The one out back is much better for climbing."

Soda looked forlorn. "But nobody can see me back there."

The woman laughed again, a soft tinkling of bells.

"Always the show-off, Soda baby, huh?"

Soda grinned. "I jus' like people to see me do cool stuff!"

"Of course, Sodapop. But hows about we go inside for cookies and lemonade right now, alright?"

The boys gave shouts of glee and ran towards the house, Ponyboy trying to keep up. When he fell to the ground, the woman picked him up and took him inside, where the boys were already shoving chocolate-chip cookies in their mouths.

"Don't eat too fast, boys," she said, setting Pony down, "I don't want you getting sick all over the place."

Her words had little effect.

As the boys ate, a man came in and put his arm around the woman's shoulders.

"Daddy!" Darry yelled, running up to hug him.

"How was your day Darry?"

"Good!"

"What about you, Pepsi-Cola?" the man ruffled Soda's hair.

Soda grinned up at him through a mouthful of cookie.

"And what about you, Ponyboy?" the man picked up Pony and spun him around, and Ponyboy squealed gleefully.

And, as Steve, Keith, and Johnny laughed in the kitchen, and Darry, Sodapop, and Ponyboy huddled around their parents, the sun shone brightly through the window, bathing the kitchen in warm, rich, golden light.

It was just another golden summer's day.