It’s been almost a week, and
life on Pony’s house was as usual..
Candy had a few more days of vacation and even though she was looking forward to returning to her nursing duties at the clinic, she decided that it would be better for Mrs. Pony and Sister Mary to stay as long as she could at the orphanage and help them with the care of the children. The only thing that was different this time was the fact that Annie and Archie had decided to stay there too, all these days, using as an excuse that they wanted a sort of a holiday as well. The truth was that they were doing this for her and that was so obvious that it turned out to be very tiring for Candy. The constant interest of the couple was anything but pleasant.
This kind of thoughts were occupying Candy’s mind while she was observing the clouded sky, lying underneath her tree on Pony’s hill. She had excused herself from the noise of the orphanage, saying that she wanted to read her book and needed some privacy to concentrate. It was her chance to get away, since Annie and Archie seemed to be occupied with things around the house.
It’s so sad! They worry about me and put a lot of effort into trying to cheer me up, but... it’s so difficult for me to feel like this…so difficult. I would have been better left alone…Shame on you Candy for thinking like that! They are such good friends! But it’s just that... watching them together so happy, it reminds me of…Terry... our times together, so few but still treasured in my heart... God, I miss him so much... He cried…my Terry cried. I’m sure he suffered too...
“Candy? Hey, Candy!!” Archie was approaching her. He was wearing one of Stear’s favorite hats together with the matching clothing. That hat was not at all something that would flatter his appearance, but Candy thought that it was very sweet of him that he had this way of keeping his brother’s memory alive.
“Archie!” she rushed to her feet, brushing at the dry leaves sticking to her dress.
“I came by to tell you that we plan to leave today, Candy. Albert... um... or grand-uncle-William as aunt Elroy insists on calling him, is having a family dinner party and we are invited of course. That goes for you too. I’m afraid he couldn’t avoid having the Rangans there as well, unfortunately. I guess that you may prefer not to join us, because Neil will be there too, and with that fuss with the wedding and all...”
“Yes... it’ll be better, if I don’t come.” Just the thought of seeing the Rangans made her sick. “Please tell Albert that I plan to visit him soon.”
“Alright. I’m sure he’ll understand. Won’t you come along to say goodbye to Annie?”
“Great! Now we’ll have the chance to chat for a while, just you and me on the way back.”
Archie put his hands in his pockets and they started walking slowly down the hill. He kept talking.
“I was never able to explain myself about the things I’d said back in St Paul. To be more specific, about that incident where... you know... Annie overheard me... um... confessing my feelings to you.”
“Archie, it’s all in the past now...” she tried to sound carefree, but the slight red color on her cheeks gave her away.
Archie was not discouraged and he didn’t change the subject.
“Yes, that is all in the past now, I couldn’t agree more. But I feel I owe you an apology. You already know that I was fond of you from the first moment we met, but since you met Anthony it was so obvious that it was him who had captured your heart. I really had no problem with that, I knew that he would take good care of you, but during college... well... I just didn’t trust Terry. He seemed a punk, a spoiled rich kid. Thinking of it now, I truly believe that I had exploded like that only out of concern for you, Candy. Maybe I was a little bit jealous too, you had focused all your attention to that lousy character!”
“Archie, stop it! Don’t you talk about Terry like this!”
“I never meant to upset you, but I was right all along, wasn’t I? He DID hurt you in the end!”
“If he loves you, why isn’t he here with you? How can he go on living without you, Candy?”
Her eyes were sparkling with anger. “Terry is with Susanna Marlowe and that is MY choice too, you know! That’s the way it should be! She loves him and needs him more than I do!”
“And what’s that supposed to mean? So if I prove to you that I love you more than he does, you’ll have the obligation to be with me? Where’s the logic in that?”
Candy stopped walking and turned angrily at Archie. “It’s not that simple! So many things have happened, things that you’re not aware of, so STOP jumping into conclusions!”
“Ah ha!! That’s another matter of discussion here! You say that many things have happened. Have you ever talked about them with anyone? Have you ever thought of sharing your troubles, your worries? Each and every one of us feels the need to lean on a friendly shoulder from time to time, Candy. But you always keep everything inside you.”
“That’s because they are MY problems!”
“What are friends for then, anyway? Only for the happy and carefree times? You’re not fooling anyone, Candy. You’re in a bad emotional state and we are all aware of it! Sure, I may not be the most appropriate person to do this, but Annie is like your sister. I know that she’s never been there for you, at least as much as you’ve been there for her, but you have your share in the blame. You’ve never given her the chance to advise you, to help you, even to just listen to you sharing your worries!”
Candy started walking again, faster than before. Archie didn’t follow her. He just stood there, watching her figure as she was moving away. She had already reached the foot of the hill when she heard his voice coming loud from far above.
“Don’t run away from your problems, Candy!”