“May!” The door slammed open, and my older brothers Soda and Darry came in, dragging Dally behind them. Dally’s white t-shirt was stained with blood, and his hair damp with sweat, at least that’s what I hoped it was.
“What happened?!” I asked, and my younger brother Ponyboy grunted.
“Dally got beat up by a bunch of Socs who outnumbered him.” Ponyboy said, and Steve, Johnny, and Two-Bit filed in after them.
“Man, we’re gonna get those Socs!” Johnny said, pretending to take a stand.
“Hey kiddo, can you clean Dal up while we’re out there beating those Socs to the pulp?” Darry ruffled my hair.
“Um, yeah, sure...and I’m fifteen, NOT a kid.” I said.
“Okay, whatever you say, Maybelle.” Darry smiled, and he and the rest of the gang shoved each other out the door. I turned to Dally.
“Where’d you get hit?”
“My head.” He groaned. Gosh, I thought, that’s a lot of blood. But, being the sister of three boys who loved to fight, I had learned to deal with it. I ran into the kitchen and wet a paper towel.
Walking back to Dally, I rolled my eyes. “You know, Dal, you have to stop fighting with people. What are you trying to prove?” I pressed the cloth against his forehead.
“That I’m good enough for you.” Dally said, smooth talking his way into my head again. I knew it was a joke, but still. I shifted uncomfortably, and paused.
“Well, how was the fight, other than that?” I asked, pointing to his head.
“It was quick. Real fast.” Dally said, and he coughed, looking up at the ceiling. “Don’t think I don’t see it, Maybelle Curtis.”
“Huh?” I drew back from his injury.
“I know you want to be there fighting alongside with us. I’m not that dumb, I can see it in your eyes.” Dally forced himself to sit up, despite his head. “Why?”
“Why do you want to fight, May?”
“Well, it’s just like this.” I was speaking shortly and quickly, my face turning red. The last thing I needed was Dallas Winston laughing at me for my stupid paranoia. “I just feel like my mom and dad are up there, and they’re watching Soda and Darry and Pony win all these fights, and I’m here...not even trying to help.” I was almost choking on my words, trying to keep a sob from escaping my mouth. “I asked once, and man, did Darry and Soda give me a hard time. Just because I’m a girl. And I want mom and dad to be proud of me, and I’m sure they’re proud of how boring I am.”
What the heck was I doing? I was pouring my heart out to Dallas Winston. This might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I really wanted to avoid Dally’s eyes-they were probably glowing with laughter, but when I turned to him, they weren’t. There was a hint of seriousness...and I knew he was listening.
“Maybelle, you’re not boring, okay? Boring would be a girl who doesn’t have a clue how to do anything, man. And don’t tell your brothers I said this- glory, they’ll kill me, but you can fight! I’ve seen it! You’re way better than half those losers that show up to rumble. So I would just tell your brothers what you think. And gosh, Maybelle, you’re parents have so many reasons to be proud of you. You’re smart, a great fighter, pretty-” I cut Dally off there.
“Excuse me? You just said I was ugly last week!”
Dally sent me a devilish smile. “Aw shoot, May, you know I was bluffing.” Suddenly, he winced, and I quickly grabbed a bandage from the cabinet and wrapped it slowly around his head. “You know, you’re not half as bad as I remember ya being, Maybelle.”
From Dally, that was a compliment. “Thanks, Dally.”
Suddenly, Dally shot up. “Okay, now I gotta go help them beat those Socs!”
I stood up too. “Dally, are you crazy?” I knew the answer to that question. “You’re practically falling over.”
“Like I care! I gotta go help Johnny. The kids gonna drive himself into his grave without me.” Dally said, and I raised an eyebrow, smirking.
“So you finally admitted it?”
“What?” Dally grunted, slinging his leather jacket he had left here last night over his shoulder and stopped stumbling towards the door.
“You admitted it, that you cared about one of us.” I said, planting my hands on my hips.
“So?” Dally flushed, a rare expression of embarrassment on his face, reaching all the way up to the tips of his elfish ears. “I care about all you guys, you know that.” He said gruffly. “It’s just I would rather throw myself in front of a moving train then watch two of you get hurt, rather than just worry about the others non stop.”
“Two? I know about Johnny, who’s the second person?”
Dally rolled his eyes. “Come on, May, I have to go.” He shrugged the jacket on.
“I’m coming with you!” I said, and I grabbed Darry’s old football coat and threw it over my shoulders.
“No, you’re not.” Dally said coolly.
“You just said I could do it!”
“Yes, but what will Darry, Soda, and Pony say? They’ll kill you!” Dally reminded me. He sighed. “You’ll stay here, alright? I’ll talk to Darry about you coming next time, but for now…” Dally trailed off.
“Fine.” I mumbled. “Watch your head, Dally, it’s already bad enough.”
“Yep, thanks Maybelle.” And with that, Dally strided out the door. I waited until he was out of sight, and then snuck outside, planning to follow him to the rumble. Staying in the shadows, I was able to maintain a good cover, and by the time we got to the rumble, he still hadn’t noticed.
And it was not a good sight. I saw several people lunging at each other, murderous looks on their faces. Ponyboy was battling some burly guy, and it made me shake a little, to see my little brother in that dilemma. But, knowing him, he could probably handle it. I drew in a deep breath.
It’s now or never, I thought, and I ran out into the rumble and socked one scrawny Soc hard in the mouth. He keeled over, clutching his lip.
“HEY!” A voice boomed. I froze, and turned around, expecting it to be Darry. But no, it was some tall kid, who bared a striking resemblance to the kid I had just punched. Shoot. I hit the kid with the toughest looking Soc for a brother I had ever seen. The guy pulled out a switchblade. “You wanna make a move on my brother, missy?” He breathed on my face. I tried to punch him, but one of his friends seized my hands and held them behind my back. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Darry staring at me, dead silent, but angrier than I had ever seen him. He started over, but someone else got there first, because all of sudden, the guy holding my hands was kicked out from underneath his feet, and I was able to punch the Soc with the switchblade so he fell backwards.
So many more people had suddenly rushed over. Darry was glaring at me, yelling. Soda was pacing, with Steve trying to calm him down, and Ponyboy was looking at me with a surprised look on his face. The Socs split, except for the one with the blade, who was still on the ground, scampering to get up.
I spun around, avoiding Darry’s scolding. Dally stood behind me, and pushed his blonde hair away from his cold eyes, which were blazing with anger. He was glaring down at the Soc. Johnny stood behind him, and Johnny started towards the Soc, but Dally pushed him back.
Dally turned to me, grabbing my shoulders and shaking me. “Maybelle, you had one job! I told you not to come!”
“You said I could fight! You did!” I yelled.
“Not here! Not now!” Dally threw his hands up in exasperation. “Do you know what this was? This wasn’t any rumble, kid, it was a big fight! You think I got this by getting punched?” Dally pointed to the gash on his head. “No, it was from a blade, May! I took a blade to the head, because this rumble wasn’t planned! They jumped Johnny, man, we had to take action!” Dally clenched his teeth. Darry and Soda backed away, realizing Dally was doing enough yelling for the three of them.
“Why, WHY on earth would you show up tonight? Tonight, of all nights! Glory, Maybelle…” Dally’s face was red. Johnny and Ponyboy exchanged a glance, wondering what had gotten into Dally. “Common sense! You take after Ponyboy, I know, but for once, use your head! I told you not to come!”
“Yes, but you also said-” I was cut off by a sharp yank on one of my dirty blonde braids as Dally brushed by.
“I KNOW WHAT I SAID! But Maybelle, I already almost lost Johnny tonight, I can’t lose both of you!” Dally yelled, and he clapped his hand over his mouth. Johnny’s big brown eyes grew even wider, and to my surprise, it was Ponyboy who spoke first.
“Dally, what the heck? What are you doing?” Ponyboy asked, and Darry started in to.
“Yes, what are you doing?” Darry raised an eyebrow.
“Maybelle,” Dally was calmer now. “Please. Next time, if I tell you to stay, it’s not because I think you can’t do it, it’s just this was a very, very dangerous fight, heck, I don’t even know why we let Pony and Johnny come! But listen to me, I can’t have you get hurt.” He lowered his voice. “The train, Maybelle, the train!”
“It’s just I would rather throw myself in front of a moving train then watch two of you get hurt, rather than just worry about the others non stop.”
I heard Dally’s words again, ringing in my head like church bells. I felt my face turn what I’m almost absolutely sure was crimson red. It was me. I was the other person.
“Stop hitting on my sister!” Sodapop said frantically, and I wanted to laugh, he looked so distraught. But I was too overcome with confusion.
“Oh, Soda, I’m not hitting on her.” Dally said, kicking a rock nonchalantly. Then he grinned, letting the look of fleeting innocence slide off his face. “Aw heck,” He confessed, “I totally am.” He completely pushed by Soda and Darry so he was standing opposite me, and I wanted to melt. I don’t even know who started it, but in an instant, we were kissing, and I could hear Soda, Darry, and Pony yelling at Dally to go pick up a broad that can deal with his crap, but neither he nor I cared.
“WHOA!” We were pushed apart by Soda. “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?! YOU CAN NOT DATE DALLAS WINSTON!”
Dally bit his lip hard in an attempt not to beat Soda up.
To my surprise, Darry was the one stepped forward. “Soda, lay off, I think Dally just proved that he cares for Maybelle, you don’t need to be so...protective!” I resisted the urge to give Darry a look that told him Soda was usually calm about this- Darry was the overprotective one.
“ Darry, thank you!” I ran towards my brother and hugged him tightly, proud of him for letting me grow up, and happy that I was allowed to date Dally. Darry smiled. Pony was right, he did look to young to have such a serious disposition. Darry and I broke apart, and he looked down at me.
“Okay, okay, but you’re still punished for sneaking out!” Darry reminded me, and I laughed.
“Alright, I get it!” I exclaimed, and Soda’s face softened. Slightly. Dally ran his fingers through his blonde hair before glancing at me.
“I bet they’re proud of you now, May.” He said, pointing up to the sky. He didn’t have to say who. I knew what he meant.
“They’re proud of both of us, Dally.” I responded, draping my arm around his shoulders. I kissed him again. And for the first time, I think I saw a sparkle in Dally’s smile.