The Daffodil in the Storm

by Alexa Chiang

This is a love story of Susanna Marlowe and the talented painter Julian Kane. Find out how Susanna fell in love with this endearing and passionate young artist while Terry traveled and found his dreams again. The reunion of Terry and Candy at the end will surely make all Candy and Terry fans swoon. The outcomes of this story will please everyone. The plot and the personalities of all characters are kept close to the original Candy Candy manga, and the timeline of this story is weaved seamlessly into the original as well. I would be delighted to receive any feedback from readers.

Chapter 1 – The Night Terry Left.

It has been three weeks since Susanna left the hospital. When she was in the hospital, Terry visited her every day as he promised. Although Terry never talked about it when he visited her, she heard rumors that Romeo and Juliet had been a disastrous failure. Terry’s performances deteriorated with each performance. They said that he sleepwalked through the scenes on stage. Toward the end he no longer cared to remember his lines. The Stratsford Theater finally shut down the production after only one month. It distressed her greatly that Terry could not show the world his immense talent in his first leading role. It was a wonderful opportunity. But deep in her heart, in a place where she could not bring herself to acknowledge, she was also pleased that the production of Romeo and Julie had ended. The role of Juliet belonged to her, and how could Terry play the part of Romeo when she was not playing the opposite role of Juliet?

Everything will be fine once I am well enough to leave the hospital, she thought to herself. She could see the pain on Terry’s face each time he visited. She longed to comfort him in the dark lonely nights. Once she leaves the hospital, she thought, she and Terry will be together and she will be able to make him happy. With her by his side, he will regain his spirit and dominate the stage once again. She was sure of it!

But soon after she left the hospital, Terry resigned from the Stratsford Theater. As he promised, he took her into his home. It was not a very big place, but there were shades and reminders of Terry everywhere. It comforted her to touch the clothes he wore, to drink from the same cup he used, and see his handwritten notes in the copies of the plays and scripts he studied in depth. At last, she was sharing his life!

In the three weeks they lived together, Terry did all he could to make sure that she was comfortable in his home in her condition. But when he was not tending to her, he only stared out the windows. Susanna longed to behold him in her arms and caress his hair, but she felt Terry’s resistance and decided to wait. She tried to talk to him, to say something to cheer him up, but neither of them was able to say that unmentionable name—Candy—that always seemed to be caught on the tip their tongues. This was true last night too.

“Terry, won’t you join me for a cup of tea,” Susanna asked. Terry was standing by the windows looking out again. She could not tell if he saw anything outside. His gaze was so far away.

Terry turned around and looked at her. He was silent for a moment, but finally he said, “I want to go travel for awhile.”

Her heart sank upon hearing this, but she gathered up all her courage and asked with a smile, “To travel on your own?”

“Yes.”

“When will you leave?”

“I…tonight…perhaps tonight. Yes I would like to leave tonight.”

Susanna looked down at her cup of tea. Terry was the man she loved. What should she do? Where would he go? Would he leave her to find Candy?

“I will come back…soon.” Terry’s words brought her out of her thoughts. He said he will come back, and if he plans to come back, surely he won’t look for Candy. With a warm smile again, she said to him “Yes, please be careful and take good care of yourself.”

And that was how he left. He took only a few personal belongings, but that too reassured her of his intention to return soon.

“Ah, he’s promised me he will return. To be with me. I must have faith in him. I won’t ask you where you are going Terry. Come back soon.” She said to herself as she watched his departure from the windows with the deep hope that he will return with the realization that they could have a happy life together.

Terry’s heart became heavier and heavier as he walked under the streetlights. He knew not where he wanted to go. He only knew that he could no longer bear to look at Susanna. Every time he looked at her he felt so much pain. He hadn’t plan on leaving, but when she spoke that evening, even her voice reminded him of the prison to which he had resigned himself. It was just a reaction to that voice that he suddenly felt the urge to leave. Maybe if he could leave for a while, his situation would be more bearable when he returns.

He passed by a store, went in and bought a pack of cigarettes. He came out of the store and sat on the side of the street. He did not care if anyone recognized him as the great rising star of Broadway, Terrence Grandchester, sitting on the street like a vagrant, smoking a cigarette. “Candy,” he whispered as he inhaled the first cigarette he smoked since Candy gave him a harmonica. Where is that harmonica, he wondered. The smoke blurred his view, and he was glad that for a moment his entire view of reality also seemed to be blurred by the smoke.

Chapter 2 – Julian’s Inspiration

The morning after Terry took off, Susanna tried to remain cheerful. She liked to sit by the windows in the morning and watch the morning sun shining onto the trees and flowers outside. She had made up her mind to sit by the windows to watch for Terry’s return. Lost in her thoughts of Terry, she did not notice the young man with the suitcase on the bottom of the building staring at her.

Julian Kane came from Charlottesville to New York with bright hopes. It had been his dream to come to New York, the city where art of all forms flourished. He would like to go to Paris some day when the Great War in Europe is over. But right now, he was ecstatic to think that his future as a renowned painter and artist was about to begin right here in New York, the capitol of fine arts in his country. He was just coming upon the steps to the entrance of the brick building where he wanted to seek a small place that he could call his home when he looked up and saw a young woman looking out the windows on the second floor. He thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. She seemed to be watching the sunshine. Her angelic face captivated him and he could not take his eyes off her.

“Can I help you?” said the landlady as she opened the front door of the building.

“Oh…yes.” Julian responded, forcing himself to tear his gaze away from the beautiful angel on the second floor. “I wanted to inquire about the vacancy…”

“Of course!” said the landlady. “Come on in. I’m sure you will like it here. This place is very well suited for young gentlemen living by themselves just like you. Well, follow me. What’s your name?”

“Julian, Julian Kane from Charlottesville,” Julian answered and followed the landlady to a small unit on the first floor. The conditions of the room are far from his thoughts. The beautiful girl upstairs, she must live in this building as well! “Yes, ma’am. I’ll take it! And I need to move in as soon as possible as I don’t want to stay another night in a hotel. I can’t afford it anymore!”

“As you wish,” said the landlady.

**********

Julian was on his way out of the building the next morning when he once again saw the beautiful girl upstairs looking out the windows. She had a faraway gaze. In the sunshine she looked like a spring flower on the verge of blossom. He had wanted to walk around the city to learn his way around, and as always he had his sketchpad with him just in case he chanced upon any artistic inspiration. His walk can wait, he decided. He sat down under the tree and began to draw the image of Susanna in the sunlight. He wondered who she was, and what she was like. Would it be too impolite of me if I knock on her door and invite her to have a cup of tea with me, he thought. Susanna never noticed him.

He found it extremely easy to use Susanna as a model for his drawings. In the two months since he moved into the building, he had already made dozens of drawings of her. He also began to earnestly paint portraits of her in places in his imagination. Every morning she sat by the windows looking out. Sometimes, he thought he would see a hint of sadness in her eyes, but he could never be sure. He also didn’t think that a beautiful young woman like her would have any grave sadness in her life. He kept hoping that he would accidentally meet her in the building hallway, but she didn’t seem to get out much. An older woman who appeared to be her mother came by often to visit her. Could it be that this mysterious young woman upstairs is suffering any illness?

One day, just as he was returning from peddling his artwork, he finally found out why he never saw her leave home. Susanna was in the front yard of the building, sitting in a wheelchair by herself. But just the same, she seemed to be at peace. Her condition only added a dimension of fragility to her beauty. In her wheelchair, she seemed to him like piece of delicate porcelain china that needs to be protected. It occurred to Julian that if he did not speak to her now, it might be a long time before he would have the opportunity again. He gathered up all his courage and approached her.

“Hi…I’ve seen you looking out your windows.”

“Excuse me?” Susanna was startled. She hadn’t noticed anyone coming near her.

“Umm…I mean, I moved into this building two months ago and I’ve seen you around. We’re neighbors. My name is Julian.”

“Oh?” Susanna looked up and saw Julian for the first time. He was a young man with broad shoulders, light brown hair and a warm welcoming smile. But Susanna could not help noticing his eyes, the dark brown eyes shown incredible depth and seemed to pierce through her soul. Incredulously, she thought her own heart leaped once as his eyes looked into hers.

“Welcome!” Susanna managed to say. “I’m Susanna. It’s nice to meet you.”

Just then, Susanna’s mother returned bearing an armful of chocolates and strawberries. “This is my mother, Mrs. Marlowe. Mother, this is Julian, we just met. He’s a neighbor, he moved here recently.”

“Pleased to meet you Julian. Where did you come from?” asked Mrs. Marlowe.

“Charlottesville. It’s a small town in Virginia. I’m actually a painter. I live on the first floor, directly under Susanna’s  apartment.”

“You know which apartment I live in?” Susanna was surprised.

“Oh that!” Julian realized that his comment might have been imprudent, so he immediately tried to explain, “The landlady told me a little about everyone living in this building when I first came here. She said that a young lady named Susanna lives above me, and I guessed that it must be you.”

“Well, it’s certainly nice to meet you Julian,” said Mrs. Marlowe. “Perhaps you can visit Susanna sometimes and keep her company since you two are neighbors. I would be here more often if I could. I get so worried about her here by herself. She’s very lonely by herself here, waiting for that no good man to come back….”

“Mother!” Susanna snapped. She turned to Julian abruptly and said, “Sorry but we must go now. It was a pleasure meeting you, Julian. Mother can we please go back inside now?”

Julian watched the two of them leave. He had so many questions. Why is the beautiful Susanna on a wheelchair? Why is she all alone? Who is that no good man who won’t come back? While he was lost in his thoughts, the landlady passed by. He generally did not like to gossip and inquire about other people’s private businesses, but in this case he could not help himself.

“Mrs. Jones. That young woman who lives above me, Susanna, is she always this way, in the wheelchair?”

“You are talking about Susanna Marlowe? Why! Don’t you know? This news is in print everywhere I thought everyone knows by now. Not long ago she was a rising theater actress on Broadway. She didn’t live here then. She lost her leg in an accident when she saved my tenant who actually lives here.  He’s also an actor.  After that accident he brought her to live here. I think they are going to be married soon.”

Julian’s heart sank upon hearing that Susanna was about to be married. So she is engaged and in love with someone else already, he sighed and said quietly to himself, “What was I hoping for anyway? I don’t even know her.” Still, he couldn’t help wondering, “Where is her fiancée? Why do I never see him? Why is he never here with her.”

**********

That day, Julian bought all the magazines he could find that contained news on Susanna. He saw photos of her when she was a Shakespearean actress on stage. She looked glorious as Cordelia in King Lear. She once played Octavia in Julius Caesar, and Helena in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. He could imagine her in roles of the greatest theater works. But she never got to fulfill her role as Juliet. He wondered what she would be like as Juliet. She seemed to have been born to play that role, willing to sacrifice her life for love. In his imagination, her Juliet would have the brightest, most innocent smile. He could envision the longing looks of her eyes as she waits on the balcony for Romeo, just as she always looked as she sat by the windows waiting for the return of Terrence Grandchester. He took up his paintbrush and began to set his vision of Susanna as Juliet on his canvas. “Juliet…Susanna…would you ever set your longing gaze on me? Just once even?” he said quietly to himself.

The discovery of Susanna’s life story provided Julian with much inspirations for his work. In the following days, he began to create sketches of Susanna in the roles of great theatrical and literary characters; sketches of her as Helena in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Ophelia in Hamlet, or Katherine in Wuthering Heights. Her tragic accident deeply touched his heart. He was inspired by the fragility of youth and the human body and the fleeting nature of fame, but also by beauty enhanced and magnified by imperfection. Somehow, her beauty was not diminished by her disabilities. He saw only the quiet, pure beauty that she radiated as she sat in the sunlight the day he first set his eyes on her. With great efforts he put all his feelings into the drawings. He painted a single daffodil in a storm, with one petal missing. The rain and wind of the storm had torn off a petal. The daffodil with the missing petal was nonetheless alive and in full bloom. He would title this painting The Daffodil in the Storm. This was his vision of Susanna.

Chapter 3 – The Heart of An Artist

Julian had also taken upon Mrs. Marlowe’s invitation to visit Susanna. He had considered the possible impropriety of his visiting with an engaged woman. But she was after all, alone in a crippled condition. Surely she would welcome the company and assistance of a caring neighbor while her fiancée was still away. One afternoon, he mustered up his courage and went to her quarters.

“Julian! How nice of you to come by!” She seemed genuinely happy to see him.

“I thought that you might like some company for lunch. Look here, I brought some sandwiches. I am a recluse artist and often dine alone at lunch. It does get boring at times. If you don’t mind, perhaps I can come in and we can share these?”

“Of course, please come in. I’d be delighted. I’ll make some tea. Please have a seat.”

Julian watched her as she dragged herself to the stove with her crutches. The sight of her struggling to perform the simple task of brewing tea made him feel an urge to take her into his arms and protect her.

“You are the first person to visit me since I moved into this building,” Susanna said. “I must say it is a pleasant surprise. Did you say you are an artist?”

“That’s right. I paint. Actually I draw a lot of sketches. An actual painting takes a lot of time and effort to make perfect. But what I am saying! You are an artist, you understand.” Julian said with a lighthearted laugh.

“Me? An artist? Maybe once upon a time. What is that to me now?” Susanna said with a hint of bitterness that Julian in his excitement did not notice.

“Nonsense, a person with the heart of an artist cannot easily lose his artistic nature. If a day comes when I can no longer paint with my hands, I will still imagine my paintings as they would look like in my heart.”

Susanna pondered on his remark. This Julian, what is he trying to say to her? She will never be on stage again. Does he think she could just pass her days imagining herself as an actress? She did not want to think about this anymore and decided to change the subject. “You have the heart of an artist. Your artwork must be amazing. What do you paint about?”

Julian blushed at her question. She would probably laugh at him if she knew that she was the central theme of his recent paintings. “What I paint about depends on the source of inspiration.”

“Source of inspiration?”

“When I was growing up in Charlottesville, my life evolved around the going-ons in that small town. The life in that town was my inspiration. I made a lot of sketches of the lives of the folks there. But as I became older, I sort of outgrew that. I needed new subjects and materials. I guess I came to New York partly to seek new inspiration.”

“And have you found it?”

Julian thought for a moment and answered in a serious tone, “Yes, I believe I have.”

“That’s good. New York is a big city filled with life. Surely there are many things that can inspire an artist. Maybe you will let me see your paintings sometime?”

“Sure, maybe…” Julian blushed again upon her request and tried to divert her attention from his paintings. “Say! Susanna, your fiancée, what’s his name? He’s been gone a long while. When will he return?”

The question struck Susanna’s heart like a knife. But I must have faith! She reminded herself. Smiling, she told Julian, “Terry…he will come back very soon. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to meet you.”

“He’s a very lucky man to have a beautiful young lady like you waiting for him.”

If only Terry would think that…Susanna thought to herself.

“Well, I must be going now. The manager at the Monet Gallery expects me this afternoon. I hope he would help me sell some paintings so I can pay for rent next month. But Susanna, if it is alright with you, can we dine together at lunch until Terry comes back? I would be honored.”

Susanna considered his suggestion, and found that Julian’s visit was quite a delightful interlude to her quiet solitude. “I would like that very much, Julian. Good luck with selling your paintings.”

Julian was thrilled with her acceptance of his lunch visits. “No matter that she belongs to someone else,” he thought as he left the building, “if I can only look upon her angelic face from afar, and spend a little time with her, that might be enough.”

**********

The manager of the Monet Gallery, Mr. Doggett, had taken special interest to Julian’s paintings of Juliet and The Daffodil in the Storm. “This Juliet, looks very familiar…is this modeled upon a real person?” Julian smiled but said nothing. “But this Daffodil painting is even more intriguing,” Mr. Doggett continued, “such a beauty of a flower.”

“Daffodil is a symbol of sunshine and unrequited love,” said Julian.

“So the daffodil is a ray of sunshine in the storm? What of the missing petal? Does that mean the unrequited love is not complete and genuine?”

“I’ll let you draw your own interpretations, Mr. Doggett. After all, the viewers of the art must derive their own meanings and messages from the artwork.”

“That is true,” said Mr. Doggett. “Well, you can leave them here, and if they are sold, I’ll take twenty percent commission.”

**********

Susanna found herself looking forward to Julian’s visit each day. She never realized how few friends she had back when she was an actress. Now that she was no longer with Stratsford, no one ever came by to see her. She found Julian a very easygoing person to be with. In him, she also discovered a kindred spirit who appreciated art and expressions through art. It was a sunny, warm summer day. Julian had convinced her to have lunch in the park. She hadn’t been outside in a long time. The warm summer breeze and the laughter of children running in the park soothed her.

“I dreamt of becoming a famous actress.” She found herself telling Julian. “I don’t know if I have the heart of an artist as you say, but I used to imagine myself in the roles of characters of all types. I wanted the admiration of the audience very much…I wanted the world to watch me reenact the characters as I imagine them to be.”

“And if you can be any character right now, who would you wish to be?” Julian asked.

“Oh I don’t know. Right now I could be…Ariel in the Tempest!” she laughed.

“You can still be Ariel,” said Julian. He took up his sketchpad and quickly drew a sketch of Susanna as Ariel.

“Here look? How do you like this?” asked Julian as he showed Susanna his sketch. Susanna examined the sketch and was impressed.

“It’s beautiful…and it looks like me too. Julian, you are very talented!”

“Thanks. Susanna, if you wish…if at any time you want to be any character in any play, all you have to do is tell me, and I will create that character in your image.”

“Julian…”

“When the Great War is over, my dream is to go to Paris. That’s where artists can make a name for themselves. An artist is not truly worthy until he is accepted and acknowledged in Paris.” Julian sighed.

“You will be successful Julian. I believe it!”

“You do? If I go, would you want to come with me?”

“Oh Julian. You would not want to take an invalid like me.” Susanna said as her smile disappeared from her face.

“But I would!” Julian protested. “If you were not already engaged I most certainly would want you to come with me. I would take you with me to Paris and take care of you for the rest of your life.”

“Julian, it’s very kind of you to say that. But the way I am, I am nothing but a burden to everybody around me,” said Susanna as tears began to fill her eyes.

“Susanna, I would never think of you as a burden. Do you know what I think of you?” Julian said as he looked deeply into Susanna’s eyes. “I think you are beautiful and pristine like a white daffodil. Your lost leg is like a petal lost in a wild storm. When the sun comes out again, the daffodil will continue to blossom. The imperfection of a missing petal only makes the daffodil even more uniquely beautiful.”

Susanna felt tears falling from her eyes. Julian’s words reached the bottom of her heart. Without hesitation, Julian touched her face and wiped her tears away.

“Sometimes,” Julian continued, “it is the imperfection of a person that makes her perfect. You are confined to the wheelchair now, but do you know how beautiful you look sitting here under the sun. If you were just another woman walking by I might not have noticed you. But you sitting here, in the sunlight, with your courage to overcome the tragedy that befell you…that makes you more attractive than any other woman I see right now.”

Susanna was touched by his words. She never thought of her handicap as a positive attribute. Certainly no one ever described her broken body with such praises. Ever since her accident, her thoughts consisted of only self-pity. Her lost leg reminded her only of the lost opportunities and the dreams destroyed. But can it be possible that new beauty and perfection can arise from her broken body?

“Thank you Julian.” She said, tears still flowing from her eyes. “I’m so grateful for a friend like you. You are very kind to say such nice things to me.”

That night, Susanna could not sleep. For as long as she could remember, her thoughts had been of Terry, her beloved Terry. But tonight, she could not stop thinking about Julian. All these lonely days as she waited for Terry to return, Julian had been here to brighten her day…Julian with eyes that seemed to see right into her soul. It was Julian who said so many things to make her feel beautiful again. She remembered the sketch of Ariel that Julian made earlier today. It was just as how she would imagine herself as Ariel. She thought that her dream had ended. But in Julian’s sketch, she saw her dream coming alive again. Yet, what kind of artist is Julian?

Chapter 4 – Revelation at the Monet Gallery

When her mother came by next day, Susanna made an unusual request. She wanted to go to the Monet Gallery. She wanted to see Julian’s paintings, and he told her that some of his artworks are on exhibit there. She wanted to surprise Julian next time she sees him, and to tell him that she saw his artworks and admired them. She was sure that she would indeed admire them anyhow. Mrs. Marlowe was more than delighted that her daughter wanted to take an excursion. Susanna hardly ever left home these days.

The collection of art on exhibit at the Monet Gallery was reputed to be very refine and exclusive. True to its reputation, the artworks on display were a sight to behold.

“Welcome ladies,” said Mr. Doggett as he came to greet Susanna and Mrs. Marlowe. “Please feel free to look around. Is there a particular piece you are looking for?”

“Sir, I want to see what you have of Julian Kane.” Said Susanna.

“Julian? You heard of him already?” said Mr. Doggett as he led the women to the left side of the gallery. “Why yes he has two paintings for sale right over here. Quite a promising young man I must say. Here’s one of Juliet on the Balcony, but I personally prefer the Daffodil in the Storm…Hmm! Miss, you look just like the Juliet in his painting!”

Susanna stared at the paintings on the wall. She saw her own reflection in the painting of Juliet. The broken dream of playing the role of Juliet…here it became a dream that came true. The portrait of Juliet consisted of so many delicate details. Juliet’s longing, faraway gaze was especially striking. How long had Julian been watching her? And the daffodil with the missing petal, everything suddenly became clear and confusing at the same time.

“Very interesting, that young man who created these,” Mr. Doggett went on, “This one of the daffodil I really like. Very delicately painted with lots of attention to details of the strokes and depths of the colors. He said daffodil is a symbol of unrequited love…ah, young people with their notions of love.”

A symbol of unrequited love…Susanna was struck by this realization. Could it be that Julian was in love with her? She could not accept that idea. Her conception of unrequited love only allowed for her own unrequited love toward Terry. She did not want to think about where Julian’s unrequited love might lead. It could ruin her sense of truth. She was afraid of comprehending the possibilities that Julian signified. “Mother, please take me home. I must talk to Julian immediately.” Susanna demanded. She could not let Julian fall any further. Her heart belonged to Terry. But everything became so clear suddenly, she wondered why she never noticed before now...Julian’s loving gazes at her, his encouraging words and his kindness toward her, she thought he only pitied her.

As Susanna entered her building, she was determined to put an end to whatever infatuation or feelings Julian may have for her. She cannot bear the thought of Julian breaking up the life she finally had with Terry. She asked her mother to wait for her in her quarters. “I want to talk to him alone.” She told Mrs. Marlowe and grabbed her crutches. Mrs. Marlowe nodded and went upstairs.

Susanna knocked on Julian’s door but there was no answer. She tried to open the door and realized that it was not locked. Quietly she opened the door. Julian was there, deep in concentration as he worked on yet another painting on his canvas.

“Julian,” she said. Startled, Julian turned around.

“Susanna, why are you here?”

“I…I was just at the Monet Gallery. I want to talk to you, I want to tell you…”

“Tell me what?”

Before Susanna could answer, she saw dozens of Julian’s sketches on his dining table. All of them were sketches of her in different characters of different plays. “Julian!” She exclaimed.

“Susanna, I’m sorry, I should have told you….” Both of them were speechless for a while as they stared into each other’s eyes. Julian was the first to speak and break the silence. “I have loved you from the day I first saw you.”

Susanna could not respond. Her heart became heavier and heavier.

“I never intended for you to find out this way. I know your heart is for another…I never wanted to interfere. But you are the inspiration for my art and my soul. Since I first laid eyes on you, I’ve created better artwork than I ever had done in my entire life. You inspire my imagination! I know that you can never be on stage again, but I want the world to see the beauty and spirit of Susanna Marlowe through my paintings. Susanna, I’m in love with you, and I only meant to watch you from afar.”

Staring at his own sketches on the table, Julian continued with sorrow in his eyes, “I suppose Terry would not be too pleased to find another man using his fiancée as the model for his paintings. I’m really sorry.”

Susanna was astonished at Julian’s honesty in his confession. No one had ever spoken to her this way before. She came with the intention to tell Julian to stay away from her life, and to tell him that it would only hurt him if he continued to pursue his love for her. But as she heard him speak, she was unable to say what she had come to say.

Lost for words, Susanna asked Julian, “Is that a new painting?” She proceeded to the canvas where he was working when she came into his quarters. She saw herself as the subject of the painting once again, in a Middle Eastern costume performing a dance.

“Yes. It’s the painting of Salome performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. The Stratsford Theater…they are performing Oscar Wilde’s Salome now. Salome is all the rage on Broadway these days! I went to see their production, and I thought that if you had still been with Stratsford, you would no doubt play the title character.”

Susanna studied the painting, and saw her own reflection. Yes, she knows the story of Salome well. Salome, the princess of Herodias, who demanded the head of John the Baptist on a charger when he refused to return her love, even if all she could do was to kiss his cold, dead lips and caress his severed head delivered to her on a charger. What of John the Baptist? Because of her, his great work as the prophet was terminated. Salome fulfilled her wish of possessing his body, but it was a dead body, and in her unwavering will to possess his dead body she murdered his soul. Was she, Susanna Marlowe, the same as the cruel Princess Salome? Did Julian paint her this way because he sees the callous acts of Salome when his eyes penetrated her soul, even without knowing the story behind her engagement to Terry? Had she, Susanna Marlowe, taken away Terry’s life, spirit and soul just as Salome had taken the life, spirit and soul of John the Baptist, all so she could kiss the dead, unfeeling lips that would never return her love and affection? “NO!” Susanna screamed.

“Susanna!” cried Julian, “Are you ok? Look I’m sorry…”

“Stay away from me! Don’t come near me!” Susanna yelled as she pulled herself toward the door.

Shocked, Julian watched her leave. He thought that he must have offended her when he told her he loved her. “How foolish I was,” he thought, “now she knows, and she will never see me again.”

Susanna dragged herself back to Terry’s quarters. Her mother rushed to her as she came in with tears streaming from her eyes. “Susanna, what happened? Did something upset you?”

Unable to stop crying, Susanna said to her mother, “I need to be alone right now. Please mother. I just need to be alone.”

“I can’t leave you here like this, child, please tell me what’s wrong?”

“Please go. Just go. I need to be alone.”

Chapter 5 – Terry’s Return.

On the train home to New York, Terry was determined to rebuild his life. He knew that he would never stop loving Candy, but he understood now that Candy would not want him to waste his life. He was still reluctant to marry Susanna, but he intended to return and do his best to take care of her for the rest of her life.

When he walked into his apartment, he found Susanna crying in bed. A heavy feeling of guilt filled his heart. How many nights had she been home alone crying? How could he have been so cruel and irresponsible to leave her here by herself all this time? He went to her and put his hand gently on her shoulder. “Susanna, I am back.”

Susanna hadn’t heard him come in. She looked up at him, her eyes filled with tears. “Terry…” she said.

“Susanna, please don’t cry anymore. I am sorry to have left you here all this time. I was wrong. I promise I will never leave you again, and I’ve made up my mind to go back to Stratsford tomorrow. I will work hard so that we can have a happy life together.” said Terry.

Susanna cried even more upon hearing Terry’s words. Terry had come back, and he was finally telling her that he would always stay by her side. This was what she had always wanted. But Terry’s willingness now to submit his own happiness for hers only made her feel more miserable.

Terry and Susanna did not say anything more to each other that night. At last, Susanna stopped crying and fell asleep. Terry remained looking out the windows into the darkness of the night. Seeing Susanna crying so hard, he realized that it would not be easy for the two of them to live happily together. He disliked the thought of coming home to find Susanna sad and miserable. But he was willing to do his best to never make her cry again. If she cries, he would endure it and make the best of it.

The next morning, Susanna remained very quiet in deep thoughts to herself. Terry tried to cheer her up by staying in good spirit. “I’ll go out and get some groceries, Susanna. I know you like strawberries. I’ll see if I can bring home some. After that, I will go to Stratsford this afternoon.” Terry said cheerfully as he left.

Soon after Terry was gone, Susanna heard a light knock on the door. Thinking that Terry must have forgotten something, she pushed her wheelchair to the door and opened it. She found Julian standing in front of her. He was holding the painting of The Daffodil in the Storm. She did not know what to say for the moment, and could only look at him.

“Hi Susanna. I am sorry to bother you, but can I please come in for a minute? I won’t stay long.” Julian pleaded.

Susanna nodded and moved aside to allow him to enter. She wheeled herself near the windows where she felt most comfortable sitting. Julian stood looking at her with an expression of sadness and defeat that she had not seen on his face before.

“I want to apologize for yesterday. I shouldn’t have made those sketches and paintings without your permission. And I’m sorry for all the things I said yesterday. You are engaged, and I have no right to say all those things to you. Please forgive me.” Julian said.

Susanna smiled at him. “Julian, please don’t be sorry. I am not angry at you.”

“I see your fiancée has returned. I saw him leaving the building this morning. I came now because it might be awkward for me to come if he was here.”

“Yes, Terry has returned.” Susanna admitted.

“I...actually…I came to say goodbye. I am moving out of here tomorrow.”

“What? You’re moving out? Julian you don’t have to do that!” Susanna exclaimed!

“Susanna I cannot stay here. I…I still love you. I cannot help myself. But I know you already love someone else, and I want you to be happy without having to think of me. I brought you this painting. I took it back from the Gallery this morning. I want you to have this…a little departure gift. I will never come bother you again. Goodbye Susanna. I will never forget you.” Julian turned to the door and left.

Susanna’s heart sank upon hearing the news of Julian leaving. All these months when she was alone, only Julian had been by her side every day. She thought of the happy times they shared together. Has she fallen in love with Julian without realizing it? If Julian leaves, will she never see him again? The thought of never seeing Julian again filled her heart with grave pain that she never felt before. Did Candy feel the same way when she left the hospital that cold winter night? Even in her invalid state Julian thought she was beautiful. Does Terry think she’s beautiful too when he looks at her? Julian said that he wanted to take care of her for the rest of her life because he loved her. Terry promised to do the same, but does Terry love her now?

She looked up and saw the painting that Julian gave her. Although he hadn’t told her what this painting was about and why he chose to give it to her, she knew that he was giving her a reminder of his unrequited love. He had told Mr. Doggett that daffodil is a symbol of unrequited love. It dawned on her that out of his love for her, Julian had made the decision to leave so that she could remain with Terry they way she wanted. Candy too left Terry out of love. She thought of her own love for Terry, and the image of Julian’s painting of Salome sprung into her mind. She began to cry.

“Terry, if I hold you in my arms, would I only be holding a cold, dead corpse? If I kiss you, would your lips be eternally cold and dead?” Susanna said to herself. “What should I do?”

Terry returned and found Susanna with tears on her face. He immediately rushed to her.

“Susanna, are you alright?” he asked, concerned.

Susanna wiped the tears of her eyes and tried to smile. “I’m ok Terry. I’m alright, really.”

“Look, I am really sorry for leaving you. But you need not cry about that anymore.”

“Terry, you look to be in much better spirits now than when you left. Would you tell me…did you see Candy while you were gone?”

Terry did not respond.

“Did you?” Susanna asked again.

“No, Susanna I did not.” Terry said. “But I don’t want to lie to you. I thought I saw an illusion of her. I drifted to Rockstown right before I came back, and I was performing in a dump of a local theater to make a little money one day when I thought I saw Candy’s illusion. Her illusion reminded me of my dreams of becoming a great actor, and my promise to her to live happily with you. When I thought I saw her, I found the motivation to come back and fulfill my dreams again.”

“It’s a wonder, Terry, that even the illusion of Candy can inspire you to become the great actor that you are on stage.” Susanna said.

“Susanna, please don’t be angry.” Terry replied.

Susanna looked at Julian’s painting again. It was a brilliant piece of art as Mr. Doggett said. It is amazing, she thought, that she could be the inspiration for such a beautiful piece of work. Now that she could no longer walk, she thought that all she wanted was to be with Terry. But she knew that she could never inspire Terry to be a great actor in the way that even an illusion of Candy could. She had only imprisoned his spirit and stifled his incredible talent. His dreams died and his talent deteriorated. Yet, she thought, she can be an inspiration to Julian, and together with Julian she will be able to bring art to the world even if she can no longer do so on stage. Julian can help her fulfill her own dreams through his paintings. She was once an artist on stage herself. Being a lover of art, can she go on to stifle art instead of inspiring art? And if she must choose between Terry and Julian….

“Susanna, where did this painting come from? It wasn’t here this morning. It’s beautiful.” Terry said, studying the painting and watching Susanna looking at it.

“Yes, it’s beautiful. Terry, I have something I want to say to you.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“I…I am so sorry for everything I’ve done. It’s no use, the two of us together. No one will be happy if we remain together. I was so wrong to separate you and Candy.”

“Susanna, don’t apologize, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

“No. I was wrong! And I’ve fallen in love with someone else. I thought I loved you, but it was only a dream. When I finally realize what love is truly about, I’ve already caused so much pain to you both.”

Terry looked at Susanna, shocked at Susanna’s sudden change of heart.

“Terry, this painting, I want to be with the man who made this,” said Susanna as she took a harmonica out of her pocket. “Terry, I know you’ve been looking for this. I know it must have been something Candy gave you because you looked so sad when you couldn’t find it. I took it and hid it because I couldn’t stand your thinking about her, and I am sorry. Here, take it back. You must go back to Candy. You must go now before it’s too late. Bring her back. I want to see her again too. There’s so much I want to say to her, and to thank her.”

Terry could not believe what he heard. He took the harmonica into his hand and stared at it. The memories of Candy and St. Paul came rushing back to him. Can this be true? Can he and Candy finally be together? Does Susanna mean everything she said?

Terry turned around to ask Susanna who was the man she had fallen in love with, and realized that Susanna had left the apartment with her crutches while he was lost in his own thoughts. He ran after her. “Susanna, wait! Where are you going? You can’t walk!”

Chapter 6 – I Will Love You Forever

Once she reached the staircase, Susanna found herself unable to step down with the crutches. She abandoned the crutches, and with all the strength she could gather, she pulled herself downstairs by holding on to the railings. She had only one thought in her mind, and the thought was that she could not let Julian go. When she reached the first floor, she held on to whatever she could grab a hold of until she came upon Julian’s door.

Julian was solemnly packing away his artwork when he heard the loud pounding on his door. “Julian,” he heard Susanna crying, “please open the door...please…please still be here…”

Julian rushed to open the door and saw Susanna crying. “Susanna!” he exclaimed in surprise at seeing her and immediately helped her inside to a seat in his apartment. He knelt down in front of her and gently wiped her tears.

“Julian,” Susanna took his hand and said, “I’m in love with you too. I was just a fool not to have realized it sooner. Please don’t leave me. I want to be with you. I want to go to Paris with you some day.”

“Susanna! You are not joking? Do you mean it?” Julian asked, amazed and overjoyed.

“Yes Julian! Yes! I thought you had left already…I thought I would never see you again. Oh I don’t want to live without you.”

“My dear sweet Susanna,” Julian said and took Susanna into his arms.

Terry was standing in the doorway. When he saw that Susanna was safe with the man she loved, he felt comforted. He smiled to himself and quietly closed the door so that Susanna and Julian could be alone.

**********

It was a beautiful fall day at Pony’s Home. Candy was taking her usual afternoon break on Pony Hill. Cool breezes blew over her as she laid on the grass. She felt relaxed and happy. She did not notice the figure approaching her at first.

“Candy,” said the person standing next to her. The voice was too familiar, Candy thought she recognized it, but it cannot be! She looked up and thought she saw Terry’s face. Is this a dream?

“Candy, I looked all over Chicago for you for a long time. Archie told me that you came here,” Terry said. His eyes filled with anticipation and his voice trembled.

Candy jumped up from the ground. How can this be? Terry came to look for her! “But Terry, why…what happened to Susanna, why’d you come here?”

“Susanna is fine. She has found her own true love. She wants to see you too,” he said. “Candy, I am free now. And all I want, all I can think of is to find you. I don’t want to lose you ever again.” He pulled Candy into his embrace. He had wanted to do this for so long, to hold Candy in his arms again.

“Terry,” said Candy as she looked up at him, “you are not lying? Is this true?”

“Yes, Candy. I would never lie to you.”

“Terry…Terry, oh I miss you so much!” said Candy. Unable to withhold her joy of seeing him and the pains for having to be separate from him, tears began to fall from Candy’s eyes.

Terry held Candy tighter. The smell of the fresh fall air and Candy’s scent comforted his heart. “Come with me to New York,” he whispered into her ear.

“Marry me,” he whispered into her ear again.

Candy looked up at Terry, their eyes met, and Candy pulled him closer into her embrace. “Terry, I want to be with you forever.”

Terry pulled Candy’s lips to his own, and he promised himself that he will never ever let her go again. He will love Candy forever.

The End.

Chapter 9 – Epilogue.

…And fans of Terry and Candy all over the world can now finally rejoice and rest in peace, knowing that Terry and Susanna never married, never kissed, never anything! Bye bye Susanna! Have a great life with Julian, and don’t come back! Terry and Candy will be together forever.

© (2002) Alexa Chiang