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It should been one of his all-time happiest moments, but for some reason Charlie couldn't quite put his finger on he felt lonely and out of place.
A feeling that had been growing inside of him for the past few years like the way a fat grey rain cloud felt like it was finally about to burst.
It seemed like only yesterday that Sally was pestering him to help her with homework, teasing him, scheming to move into his slightly larger bedroom. She called him "Big Brother" in those days, and although she was frequently disappointed that that he was not the kind of big brother that beat up her school bullies, she had always respected his wisdom and goodness.
Now she was a young woman, still playful and full of mischief, but she had changed in so many ways.
She was still not particularly good in school, but she was witty and could think fast on her feet. Next year she would be going to law school at a big University upstate after squeaking through the entrance exams. For the next four years, Charlie would only see her on long weekends and holidays. After that, who knew?
Linus was already in his second year of medical school at the same big University, and to no one's surprise he was at the top of his class. He still disliked school and irritated his teachers with endless questions, but as always he proved to be a natural.
It was a huge surprise for everyone when the two first got together.
Sally used to chase Linus around a little bit in the old days, telling everyone that he was her "Sweet Baboo." The years went by and everyone thought the childhood crush was forgotten.
Then on Christmas Eve a year ago, Linus came by the Brown's to catch up with the family and drink some egg nogg. He had just finished his first semester at medical school.
Charlie left the room to check on a pie that was in the oven, and when he returned Sally and Linus were kissing under the mistletoe.
A car drove by Charlie kneeling on the bridge. The driver slowed down and hollered at Charlie to get back on his horse—apparently the driver thought he was throwing up.
Still lost in thought, Charlie slowly pushed himself back to his feet and continued his long walk home.
He walked past the old school, where he spent his lunches sitting alone on a bench in the schoolyard, fantasizing about a little red-haired girl.
He walked past the park and a tangled old elm tree that probably still had a few miles of kite string wrapped around its branches.