Seems like I’ll never recover
From losing my lover
I just don’t know what I’m gonna do
And I’m taking the blame
And I’m so ashamed
‘Cause I’m sitting here thinking of you
Oh you gave me the strength
And you gave me that smile
I don’t know how long ago
I don’t know how many miles
But I’m thinking of you
And how you knew what to
And I know that you did it for me
© Dave Pirner - Faces and Names
Chicago - October 1915.
The blond girl was standing in the train that was taking her back
to Chicago. She was watching the couple she had just given her seat to. How
happy they looked, a family with a lovely baby. How much she would have wanted
to live like this with Terry… To become the mother of his child…Terry… She had
not stopped thinking about him since the train had left New York.
She felt feverish and guessed she had caught a cold after all the time she had spent walking in the snow. She felt hot and decided to go outside for some fresh hair. She opened the wagon door and stood on the platform. She looked into the night and saw Terry’s face among the stars, smiling his lovely smile.
“The hope to see you again kept me going… But now, what am I going to do?” she thought, letting the tears she had been trying to hold back flow freely. She was holding on to the railing, looking down at the tracks. The cold wind was beating her face. She wondered how it would feel to jump off the train, would the pain stop?
Everything went black.
She was standing in the snow when she heard music. It was coming from Stear’s happy box. And there was Stear, holding the box. She came to him:
“Well, I should have known that it was going to be just like all your other inventions. It did not work; it did not bring me any happiness, quite the opposite.”
Stear laughed and disappeared.
She then smelled the scent of roses. She looked up and saw Anthony holding a bouquet of white roses, Sweet Candy. All of a sudden, they turned red: they were not Anthony’s roses but Terry’s, the ones his fans threw at him the night of the King Lear performance. Terry was in the coach, going away. She ran after him.
“Don’t go Terry, Don’t go!” she screamed. She fell and was surrounded by petals of red roses. Then…
“Candy! Candy wake up! Say something!”
Candy opened her eyes.
“Oh, Annie!” she said weakly.
“You finally came to. How do you feel?” asked a concerned Annie.
“Where am I?”
“At the Andley’s mansion in Chicago. They found you unconscious on the train platform.”
“Why did they bring me here?”
“Because of the letter that was in your suitcase.”
Annie was busy pouring water in a glass, her back turned to Candy.
“Terry’s invitation,” Candy murmured, her eyes filling up with tears.
“The doctor said you were lucky, you could have caught pneumonia.” Annie turned around, the glass of water in her hand. “I must say you did …” She interrupted herself mid-sentence, seeing her friend was crying. She put the glass down on the side table and sat on the edge of the bed.
She took Candy’s hand. Candy squeezed it and cried harder.
“What happened Candy? I knew something was wrong when Archibald called to let me know he had brought you back home from the train station. We were not expecting you so soon.”
“Oh Annie…. It’s…. It’s over, Terry and me…” She could not say more, her tears had doubled in intensity. The memory was too painful.
“Candy, sweetie….” Annie took her friend in her arms. Candy’s cries grew louder. She could not be as brave as she had promised Terry to be.
Somebody knocked on the door.
“Not now!” said Annie in a commanding tone Candy had never heard use before.
They stayed like this for what seemed an eternity and once Candy had no more tears to shed, she told the whole story to Annie. By the end, both of them were in tears.
“Don’t, Annie, there is nothing to say. I did it to myself, didn’t I? That’s what really hurts. It is my own doing, my own decision. I have nobody to blame for it but me. I’ll have to learn to live with it. ” She was slowly regaining her composure.
She drank from the glass on the side table.
“You are too hard on yourself. It is not your fault. ” Annie objected when somebody knocked on the door again.
“It must be Archibald and Patricia. Do you want to see them?”
“Yes, of course! But please Annie, don’t tell them anything. I don’t want them to feel sorry for me.”
“As you wish,” she replied. Candy would never cease to amaze her. How could she be so strong? In her shoes, she would have jumped from that train… “Come on in,” she said.
“Candy!” Patricia came running, visibly shaken.
“Patricia! Archibald!” said Candy, a smile instantly forming on her face.
“Candy, I’m so happy you finally woke up! You got us worried!” Archibald said.
“There’s no need to be. I’m fine as you can see.”
“Candy…” Patricia said, sounding more distraught.
“Yes? What’s the matter?”
“It’s awful! I would have never thought it would end that way…” Patricia threw herself crying on top of Candy’s bed.
Annie and Archibald looked ill at ease.
“So they know… They must have overheard our conversation…” Candy thought. “They know it is over between Terry and me. I need to show them I’m brave, since I promised Terry I would be.”
“Come on Patty,” she said aloud, in her most cheerful voice. “Don’t cry. Look at me? Am I crying? I know it is sad but what can we do? That’s the way life is…” she hated how false she sounded.
Annie looked at Candy horrified, realizing she had forgotten to mention something that had happened here while she was gone.
“Candy, it is not...” she started.
Patricia interrupted her. “I don’t have your strength,” she said, crying. “He left without saying good bye…”
“Saying good bye? I’m not quite sure I understand. Who are you talking about?”
Annie and Archibald looked away.
“Stear…” Candy said, looking around, realizing he was not there. She had been so busy trying to look happy that she had not noticed his absence. “Where is Stear? It’s about him, isn’t it Annie?”
She noticed Annie was crying. “Archibald?” she pleaded, her voice starting to shake, fearing what was going to come next.
“Yes, it’s about Stear. He left. He volunteered to fight in France.”
Candy was petrified.
“He went to fight… In France…” She instantly pictured battle scenes, bombs, blood, body parts flying…
“He left the day after your departure for New York.” Archibald said sadly.
“He did not tell anyone. He just left a letter to Patty.” Annie said.
Candy understood right then Stear’s strange behavior when he had walked her to the train. He already had made up his mind. It was not a simple good bye but a farewell. She blamed herself for not realizing that something was off, she had censed he was up to something but had not been able to pinpoint it. She realized sadly that she had been so taken by her much anticipated reunion with Terry that she had been oblivious to anything else.
“Stear…” she said aloud.
“I cannot take it anymore… It is too cruel, why did he leave without talking to me, only leaving a letter…” Patty handed the letter to Candy and threw herself back on the bed, crying.
Please do not be angry with me and do not think I have been mean towards you. It is your smile I see and your laugh I hear as I am writing this letter.
Do not think that my passion for flying led me to join the French troops. The need to do what I consider my duty was too strong to be ignored.
Be patient my darling, we will meet again soon.
“He forgot to mention he might get killed,” Patricia cried, on the verge of hysteria. “Thousands get killed or disappear everyday over there.”
“Patricia, I forbid you to talk like this! You need to stop thinking the worst!” Candy screamed, furious at her friend. Patricia’s tears increased.
“Patty,” she added softly, feeling bad for having been so harsh with her friend, “you know how much Stear likes you, you need to trust him. He’ll do what is right but he will never endanger his life.”
“Candy is right Patricia, he is brave, but bravery does not necessarily equal temerity,” said Archibald.
“But why did he leave without saying good bye? I will never forgive him!” said Patricia, sobbing.
“Patricia… Please… Get a hold of yourself. What is the use of crying? Try to be as brave as he is.” Candy said to Patricia who was now lying on the floor, crying hysterically.
Annie hid her face in her hands, crying. Archibald was nervously pacing the room.
“I’m gonna need to be brave as well… And I know how hard it is.” Candy’s voice broke into tears and she buried her head on her pillow.
Archibald walked up to Candy. He put timidly one hand on her shoulder.
“Candy…. What happened in New York?”
Candy’s cries grew louder. The sound stopped Patricia’s crying fit. She had never seen her friend so distressed. She got up and sat on the edge of the bed. Archibald gave a quizzical look to Annie who, after Candy nodded her approval, went ahead and told them the whole story.
“Damned British… I knew he could not be trusted…I knew he was going to break her heart,” Archibald was fuming. He wished he had Terry in front of him so that he could beat him up.
Annie was rubbing Candy’s back, trying to comfort her best she could. Patricia was standing by the bed, dumbfounded.
Archibald sat in the armchair, lost in his thoughts.
“Candy… I am so sorry…” Patricia said, still sobbing a bit.
Candy was desperate, yesterday Terry, today Stear, she felt like her head was going to explode.
The door opened and Elroy walked in, looking furious.
“Aunt Elroy,” exclaimed Archibald, standing up.
“So this is true, she is here.” She said coldly, her face as stern as ever.
Candy instantly stopped crying and sat up.
“Archibald, would you mind telling me why you brought that girl back?”
“What do you mean, that girl?” he asked, angrily.
“Yes, I said that girl,” Elroy said disdainfully, pointing at Candy. “The whole town will know that she is a member of our family, how shameful!”
Candy looked down, drying her tears. She was not going to give Aunt Elroy the pleasure to see her cry.
“She is a member of our family Aunt Elroy, it is no secret to anybody.” Archibald said coldly.
Elroy ignored him and carried on.
“She only brought sorrow to this family. First the death of Anthony and now the departure of Stear, who may very well never come back.”
“She has nothing to do with any of that!” exclaimed Archibald, wanting to slap his Aunt. He had channelled the anger he felt towards Grandchester and, to a lesser extent, his brother, towards his great aunt who had never shown any kindness towards Candy.
“Silence Archibald, I am not talking to you but to Candy! I will never understand why I did not object more firmly to your adoption.” Sweat was pearling on her brow and her temples were pulsing with contained anger. “It is William’s fault. I am so upset with him. From now on I forbid you to use our name, I forbid you, do you hear me?”
“Aunt Elroy! You can’t do that! You have no right to make that kind of decision without consulting with Uncle William” Archibald immediately objected.
Candy realized the sadness she had been feeling had been replaced by rage, a rage so powerful she could not suppress it any longer.
“Piss off you old hag!” Candy could not believe the words had come out from her mouth.
Elroy became livid and at a loss what to reply. She certainly had not expected Candy to talk back to her, even less so with such a foul language. The others were equally shocked. Elroy regained quickly her composure and barked:
“How dare you talk to me this way? After all I did for you?”
“What you did for me? Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! What you did for me? Let me tell you what you did for me: humiliated me, treated me like dirt, blamed me for everything and anything, rejected all my attempts to be friendly towards you, showed no gratitude whatsoever after I took care of you while you were sick, and now you are kicking me out regardless of the fact that I have a fever? Should I be grateful for that? Who are you kidding here? Do you think of yourself as a kind little old lady from the high society? You got to be delusional! You’re nothing but an old, mean, heartless spinster!” Candy was amazed how good it felt to let it all out.
“And I’m an Andley as long as uncle William says so. I know I said I did not want to be a member of this family but I’ve changed my mind, why would I want to leave a family who has been so kind to me? And legally, I’ve never ceased to be William’s daughter. So you have no right to treat me like you do. I have as much a right to be in this house as you do. So now get the hell out of my room. ”
“Great Aunt, please, just go.” Archibald said, extremely impressed by the way Candy had talked to his Aunt, and secretly wishing he had the guts to do the same.
“Who do you think you are to order me around? I am going to have YOU thrown out from this house.”
“Go ahead, have me thrown out, you old bat! I’m sure the newspapers will be delighted to hear that you threw your sick niece out in the cold! ” Candy could not stop the words flowing out of her mouth.
“You… You are finally showing your real face, I always knew you were no good… I’ll talk to my lawyer to cancel this non-sense William put me through.” Elroy was fuming. Her face was red with anger.
“You can’t!” screamed Archibald. “Uncle William adopted her, only he can cancel the adoption! You have no right whatsoever to act in his name!”
“Archibald! I was expecting better from you! It just goes on to prove my point that this girl has a bad influence on you all.”
“Of course Archibald, don’t you know everything is my fault?” Candy asked ironically. “Even this snow storm, I’ll bet the old cow can find a way to blame it on me.”
“CANDICE WHITE! I don’t want to hear another word from your dirty mouth! You are a disgrace to this family and I am going to make sure you won’t stay a part of it much longer!”
“You won’t do such a thing,” said a familiar voice.
Albert was standing in the doorway, looking very sharp in a nice crisp black suit. George was behind him.
“Albert!” said Candy, surprised.
Elroy became white as if she had seen a ghost.
“William!” she murmured.
“William?” asked Archibald quizzically.
“Elroy, please go wait for me in the library.” He said in an authoritative tone.
To everybody surprise, Elroy obeyed without uttering a word of protest.
Candy ran into Albert’s arms.
“Oh, Albert! I’m so happy to see you!” Candy was shaken and started to cry.
“Albert, how did you get here? What does all this mean? George?” Archibald asked, baffled by the whole scene.
“Annie, Patricia, if you would excuse us, I have to talk to Candy and Archibald in private.”
The two girls left the room, puzzled. George followed them and shut the door behind him.
Candy was still crying into Albert’s arms, oblivious to what was going on around her.
“Candy…” he said softly, rubbing her hair. “What happened?”
“Terry… I… We….” But she could not finish her sentence. Tears came flowing, choking the words in her mouth.
“Candy, don’t. I’ll explain to Albert.” Archibald told Albert everything. Candy kept on crying.
“Candy, I am so sorry. I know how much you loved him… What you did was very brave, very kind, and very noble. I would not have expected anything less from you… Confronted with the situation, I would have done just the same.” He was silent for a while, holding Candy and murmuring comforting words. Archibald was standing in the middle of the room, not sure what to do.
Finally, Albert broke the silence. “I realize this may not be the perfect time but there is something I need to tell you both.”
Archibald knew what was coming next. Candy had no clue. She had been so relieved to see Albert walked in the room that she had not fully gasped the meaning of it all. She was still sobbing. Albert pulled away from her, grabbed her shoulders and made her look at him.
“First, you need to understand that I never meant to hurt you Candy. Everything I did, I did it for you, I only wished for you to be happy.”
“What do you mean Albert? I don’t understand a word you say.” Candy said, confused, pulling away from him. “Does that mean you regained your memory?”
“Yes, I did, the night you left. Bits and pieces had been coming back for a few weeks prior that. I realize this will come as a shock to you both. My name is William Albert Andley.”
“What? YOU are the mysterious uncle William?” Archibald said.
“WHAT!?” Candy said, hardly believing her ears.
“Yes, I am the great uncle William.”
“But I thought he was an old man!” Candy protested.
“And so did everybody. It is more an honorary title than an indication of age,” Albert said.
“But how can it be?” Archibald asked, somewhat incredulous that this man he had known as Albert, some kind of vagabond, was in fact his uncle and the head of the Andley’s family and fortune.
“This is a long story. I was the only son of the Andley’s. They had three daughters but as dictated by tradition, only a son can become head of the family. I knew from a young age the tremendous responsibility that would be mine upon reaching twenty-one and taking over the family empire. It was something I was not looking forward to. After my sister Rosemary’s death, I…”
“Wait… That means you are my mother’s brother?” interrupted Archibald.
“Yes, I am indeed.”
“But… How come nobody ever mentioned you?”
“I’ll come to this in due time. I wanted to see the world before settling for a life of hard work and responsibility. I spoke to my Aunt Elroy about it. She strongly disapproved but there was nothing she could do. I had made up my mind. So she had no choice but to agree to keep handling the leadership of the family until I was ready to return and assume my responsibilities. Which is what I am doing today. My sisters, your mother Archibald and Neil and Eliza’s mother, were not close to me the way Rosemary had been. They were already married when I was born so they never really got to know me, so I guess they sort of forgot about me.”
“But why did you adopt me?” asked Candy.
“Because I received letters from Archibald, Stear and Anthony, begging me to do so. I had met you several times and had been deeply touched by you and you resemblance with Rosemary… Since that very first day on Pony’s hill.”
“What? It was you… My Prince… The Prince of the hill….” Candy could not believe what she was hearing. She was feeling so foolish: her Prince, her first love, had been her adoptive father!
Archibald did not understand what they were talking about.
Candy blushed, too embarrassed to answer.
“I met Candy when she was a little girl on Pony’s hill. She was crying. She looked so fragile, so small, and so helpless. I was only a boy then but I felt the urge to protect her. That urge had been with me ever since.”
“Years later, when I met Anthony, I thought he was the Prince… Now I understand why… And Anthony knew, he was about to tell me when…” Candy started to cry again.
Albert felt horrible.
“Candy… I am sorry to bring back those painful memories but I really wanted to be honest. I don’t want to hide anything from you anymore.”
Archibald thought the whole story was very strange. He also could not help but notice the way Albert was looking at Candy. He thought he saw something in Albert’s eyes that was not concern for a child but love for a woman. That made him sick to his stomach.
“But why didn’t you reveal yourself upon adopting Candy?” Asked Archibald.
“And why did you lead me on with Albert?” Candy asked, feeling cheated.
“Because I was not ready to take over the reins of the Andley’s family.”
“But you felt ready to adopt me?”
“I was afraid something terrible was going to happen to you if I did not do something to take you away from the Leegan’s but I was too late, they had already sent you to Mexico.”
“So you sent George to rescue me…”
“Yes, I was outraged by the way the Leegans treated you and decided to adopt you.”
“Not outraged enough to step out of the woods assume your position and punish the Leegans for what I endured in their hands.” Candy was clutching her fists, getting angry.
“Candy… It was the only thing I could do… I was young… “
“So why did you adopt me? This is not making any sense!” She screamed.
“Because I wanted to protect you. And it was the only way.”
“Why didn’t you adopt me as Albert then? You could have taken me with you on your travels.”
“She is right Albert! Do you have any idea of the abuse she suffered from Neil and Eliza, who were backed up by Aunt Elroy? We tried to protect her the best we could but it was not enough. She needed an adult to speak up for her,” Archibald said, getting angry as well.
“All I can say is that I am sorry. I only had Candy’s best interests at heart. You must believe me. I may have been clumsy in the way I handled everything but I truly wanted her to be happy.”
Candy thought about how Albert had been her ever-present friend, always there to comfort her. She could not stay mad at him, he did not deserve it.
“Thank you Albert.” She said softly. “Thank you for everything. I’m sorry for yelling at you… So much has been happening…”
“I cannot blame you Candy. I totally understand. But I will try my best to make up for the lost time. This house is yours. I am sending Elroy to Lakewood. Now go back to bed and get some rest.”
Candy realized she was exhausted and obeyed.
The two men left the room. Albert went to meet Elroy in the library, whom he chastised for the way she had treated Candy. He informed her that Candy was going to live here and that she, Elroy, was to go to Lakewood. Elroy, ashamed, left without saying a word.
Meanwhile, Archibald explained everything to Annie and Patricia, who were as shocked as he had been to learn that Albert was Uncle William. He decided to leave out the fact that he suspected Albert to be in love with Candy. The very idea of the two of them together sickened him to no end. Grandchester had been bad enough, but Uncle William? It was beyond anything he could have imagined.
When Candy woke up, it was dark. Somebody had come to pull the
curtains shut and had left a plate with a sandwich and some fruits on it, as
well as some fresh squeezed orange juice. Candy grabbed an apple. She put on
her robe and walked to the window. She moved the curtain. Everything was dark
outside; there were no stars in the sky.
She started thinking about the events of the last few days: The separation from Terry, Stear’s departure, Albert’s true identity. She did not know what to do. How to feel. She felt cheated, manipulated, and even angry. But after thinking hard about it, she came to understand and respect Albert’s reasons. And Stear’s. And even Terry’s. What she could not understand were her reasons! Why had she let Terry go? Why had she refused to let him speak? Why, upon realizing that Suzanne was ready to commit suicide, had she immediately decided to sacrifice herself? It was something she did in the spur of the moment and that she was going to live to regret. Her first thought had been for Terry, she did not want to make it more complicated for him than it already was. But what about her? What about her feelings? She had put so much hope in this trip to New York. And now it was all gone. Her dreams… Her life… Terry…
She felt the rage coming back, invading her whole soul. It was a sensation she had never experienced before. She took a vase full of Sweet Candy roses and threw it against the wall. The noise of the glass breaking resounded throughout the sleeping house.
“Gosh, what is wrong with me?” she wondered. “I’m going to wake everybody up”. She went to pick up the pieces and cut her hand doing so. Blood immediately started to flow on the Persian rug.
“Great…” She was on her way to the bathroom to get a towel to bandage her hand when Archibald came running in. His room was across from Candy’s and the noise had awakened him.
“Candy! What on earth…” he started and stopped, realizing she was bleeding.
“Oh Candy, what have you done?” he said, a concerned look on his face.
Candy realized he was thinking she had tried to cut herself on purpose.
“Archie, I’m Ok. Really… I just… I just dropped the vase and cut myself while picking up the pieces.” She did not want him to know she had thrown the vase in a fit of anger.
“Why didn’t you call a maid to pick it up?” He took her hand and was relieved to see it was a small cut. “You could have seriously hurt yourself.” He scolded her. “I’m going to call someone to clean up.”
“No, please Archie, I cleaned most of it. I don’t want to wake somebody up because of my clumsiness.” She pleaded.
“Fine. Go sit on the chair, I’m going to get some bandages and alcohol to clean your wound.”
Candy did as he asked. He came back a few minutes later with the necessary supplies.
“You’re the nurse, you want to do it yourself while I clean up?”
“Of course, thanks! I would not trust you with a bandage! And… Archie…”
“Please don’t mention anything to Albert.”
“I… I just don’t want him to worry, that’s all….”
“OK. How do you reckon we should call him? Albert or Uncle William?”
“Well, for me, he’s Albert, so I’ll keep using Albert.”
“I think I’ll do the same… It is so confusing… I wish Stear was here….”
“Me too…I miss him… I wish he had waited to leave… I would have gone with him…”
“You cannot be serious?”
“Why not? It is the war, I’m sure they need all the nurses they can get.”
“This is non-sense Candy! You cannot go there, I… I could not stand to lose you too….” He looked down, embarrassed by his admission.
“Stop talking as if Stear were dead! He is not! I’m sure he’ll come back with lots of stories to tell, you’ll see!”
“I hope you’re right…”
“I’m always right, don’t you know that yet?” she asked mischievously, trying to cheer him up.
“Oh, Candy! I like you better this way, optimistic and happy…” he smiled.
“So do I Archie, so do I… Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to go back in bed.”
“You’ll be OK?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine. Good night Archie.”
“Good night Candy.”
He left her room regretfully. His first instinct had been to take her in his arms, but he knew it would have been a bad idea. Who knows what he would have done if he had been holding her close? Kissed her? Most likely. And she would have been furious. … He cursed Grandchester for hurting her. That British brat had not realized how lucky he was to have been loved by Candy, how could he let her go? What a moron! Archibald would have given anything to be in his place. He had briefly entertained the hope that there could be something between them but had quickly realized there was no way she would ever go out with the one her best friend loved. He of course loved Annie but Candy was something else. She had a way to bring happiness to people around her; she was kind, fun, outgoing, full of life.
Candy went back to bed but lay awake till dawn, restless, tormenting herself with visions of Susanna on the hospital roof. She kept replaying the scene in her head, with some variations: she was arriving too late and Susanna had already jumped; she was the one jumping; and more disturbingly she was trying to prevent Susanna from jumping but her fingers were slipping and Susanna was falling to her death, screaming.
The next day, Archibald told Annie what happened the previous
night. Annie became instantly worried. Archibald was convinced that no matter
how she had denied it, Candy had tried to hurt herself.
Annie and Archibald agreed that Candy could not be left alone at night so Annie decided she’ll spend the night in Candy’s room. They would use the excuse that with her fever, she needed to be supervised and that Annie would be happy to play nurse for her, which was true. Annie felt indebted to Candy for all the kindness she had shown for her in the past and thought it was about time she did something for her. She was also feeling guilty, after hearing from Candy’s mouth what had happened in the train, she should have stayed the night before.
Candy started by weakly refusing but quickly gave in as she knew deep inside that she needed company, she did not know how long she would be able to go on with nights like the previous one…
A few weeks went by.
Patricia came by for lunch and the three girls had somewhat of a good time.
When it came time for Patricia to go back home, Archibald and Annie drove her. Candy preferred to stay and assured them she was fine. Albert was home, working in his study, and there were countless maids in the house.
After they left, Candy, who was much better, decided to take a bath and wash her hair.
She enjoyed the warmth of the bath. After a while, she got out. Looking through the window, she realized it was snowing. Instantly, she was taken back to that dreadful night. She saw Susanna’s face full of joy upon hearing that she was coming back to Chicago, giving Terry up. She heard Terry’s voice: “Candy, I can’t let you go… I wish time could stop…"
“Candy, you are the biggest idiot that ever walked the earth!”
She pulled away from the window, sat by the make up table, took a comb and started brushing her hair, first softly and then harder and harder. She looked up in the mirror at her reflection. Her hair was wet, down all the way to her waist. She was going to put it in her usual pigtails when she decided she needed a change. Susanna had been wearing pigtails. Candy did not want pigtails ever again. She put her hair up in a ponytail and did not like it. She tried a lose bun but her hair was too thick, the clip she was using too small and she got frustrated. She took another look in the mirror. She hated what she saw. She had lost weight, her hair was dull, her skin ghostly white, her eyes had lost their sparkle.
“I hope it was worth it Susanna. I hope you are happy and are taking good care of my Terry…. My Terry…. Damn you Terry! Why did you not tell me right away what had happened? Why did you let me go so easily? I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
She furiously knocked down everything that was on the table. Annie’s sewing tote was there, its content spilled on the floor. A pair of scissors came out. Candy picked it up and started cutting her hair, grabbing handful of it and cutting at random.
Annie got back a few hours later, holding a box of chocolates. She walked in the room, surprised to see the light had not been turned on. It was way too early for Candy to be sleeping.
“Candy?” she called.
“I’m here,” said a small voice.
Annie turned on the light.
“I got you some…”she did not finish her sentence. Her best friend was sitting in a corner, her back against the wall, her head down in her lap.
“Candy…. What’s the matter sweetie?” As she got closer, she realized something was wrong with her friend’s hair.
“Oh my god Candy, your hair!” she exclaimed.
The golden locks were gone. The hair had been cut unevenly, some pieces still long, some short.
“I wanted a change,” Candy smiled sadly.
“Oh Candy,” Annie hold her in her arms and Candy let herself go and cried.
“Annie… This is too hard, I can’t do it… I love him so much… I won’t be able to live without him… I’ll go crazy… I’m already going crazy. I’m turning into a person I don’t know, and whom I don’t like… What is happening to me?”
“Candy, you’ve been through a lot in a short period of time… Terry… Stear… Albert… You need to be patient, let time do its work...”
Candy calmed down. Her friend was right. Had time not eased all her pains in the past? Why would it be different this time?
“Because I lost the man I love,”
she thought to herself.
“Right now, we need to take care of your hair. I’m going to fix it, you’ll look like you have the latest hairdo, and you’ll be more fashionable than me!”
“Ok…” Candy gave a small smile.
Annie cut Candy’s hair so that it looked more even.
“Done! You look fabulous!”
Candy looked at herself in the mirror and liked what she saw. Her hair was short, with curls falling all around her face. It made her look older and she liked it!
“Thank you Annie,” she said, hugging her friend.
“Now my turn…” Annie took the scissors.
“What are you doing?”
“You didn’t really think I’d let you be more fashionable than me!” Annie smiled, cutting a piece of her hair. When she was done, she had a short bob.
“You are right Candy, it feels good to change!” said Annie, looking at her reflection.
She was indeed very pleased with the results; she looked more mature. She started to wonder if Archibald would like it.
“Let’s go see Archibald!”
The two friends left the room and found Archibald reading in the library.
Archibald put his book down and looked up. He was speechless.
“Well, aren’t you going to tell us how beautiful we look?” asked Annie.
“Why did you cut your hair?” he asked stupidly, not knowing what else to say.
“Archie, you are disappointing me… I thought you knew that short hair is the new style!” exclaimed Annie, feigning to be offended.
Candy stood there and smiled awkwardly.
“You just look… different…” he said. “But in a good way!” He added. “Both of you.”
As far as he was concerned, Candy could have shaved her head and he would still have thought her beautiful.
Albert walked in.
“Wow! What happened? Did I miss something?”
“It’s the new style Albert!” said Candy, smiling warmly. She was glad to see him. Even though they were living under the same roof, she did not see him much and missed him. Upon assuming his role as head of the family, he was rarely around, spending most of his time in meetings around town and coming back home late.
“Well, both of you ladies look marvellous. What do you think Archie? I feel like taking them out for dinner to show them off?”
Candy did not really want to go anywhere but she did not want to be a party pooper, everybody seemed so happy. So she went with Annie and got dressed.
They had dinner at a fancy French restaurant. Candy barely touched her food; she was lost in her thoughts and barely participated in the conversation, answering questions with a random yes or no.
Albert had guessed that Candy was in a bad place emotionally and had asked her to quit working at St Joan’s hospital, which she had gladly done, she could not picture herself going back to work there, so many memories of Terry were attached to it, she had been on cloud nine on her last day of work there, and now…
She shook away the dark thoughts that had been cluttering her mind and tried to follow the conversation her friends were having. She watched the interaction between Annie and Archibald and felt a twinge of envy. Those two still had each other; they would most likely get married soon. She wanted to get home, her head was hurting.
“Candy, are you OK?” asked Albert who had noticed her doleful look.
“I have a headache, I’m sorry, can we go home?”
“Sure, Archibald and Annie, you can stay if you want, I’ll take Candy home.”
Annie was delighted by the opportunity to spend some time alone with Archibald. There was something she had been dying to talk to him about ever since Candy told her what had happened in New York.
“Ok. We’ll see you later.”
Candy and Albert left. The waitress came by and brought coffee.
“Candy does not seem well,” Archibald noted.
“No she does not. It will probably take her some time to recover.”
They drank their coffee in silence for a while.
“Archie, can I ask you a question?”
Annie seemed uncomfortable.
“It is about us.”
Archibald gave her a perplexed look.
“It may seem strange but something has been bothering me since Candy came back from New York.” Annie started.
“Here we go again,” thought Archibald, extremely annoyed. “She is jealous and is going to make a scene.”
“I was wondering…. “Annie looked uncomfortable and fidgety. “At St-Paul…” She stopped again.
Archibald had no idea what she was talking about and gave her an encouraging look. Annie went on.
“When I ran away and you came to get me, did you think really think what you told me or did you act the way you did out of pity and obligation?" Annie finally said.
“What?” Archibald was deeply surprised.
“Do you really love me or do you feel you need to be with me because Candy asked you to?”
Archibald was at a loss what to say.
“Since Candy told me what happened between her and Terry, I’ve been thinking about what I did to you. I basically did what Susanna did. I knew you did not love me but wanted you for me nevertheless. And I still do.” Tears were starting to flow. “But I am afraid you are staying with me to fulfil a promise you made to Candy. And that you are not happy.” Annie’s cries grew louder.
“Annie, you did not force me to do anything. I care a lot about you. I enjoy your company. And you make me happy. Please don’t cry.”
“But do you love me Archie?” Annie asked, sounding desperate.
“Of course I do.”
“Then say it.”
“I love you Annie, now let’s get out of here.”
They left, Archibald holding a sobbing Annie by the shoulders and wondering why he had said what he did. He loved Annie, but he certainly did not love her the way she loved him, of that he had no doubt. Should he stop leading her on? Should he have taken this opportunity to tell her the truth? But how many marriages were based on passionate love? Most of the people he knew had been married out of convenience rather than love. He had gotten used to her calm and silence presence in his life. She would without a doubt be the perfect wife for him socially speaking. His life with her would be peaceful and without any surprises. And what was wrong about that? There was no point hurting her unnecessarily.
“Annie,” he said softly. “I love you and want to marry you. Let’s get engaged.”
“Oh Archie!” Annie was the happiest she had ever been and jumped on Archibald’s neck. As he holds her in his arms, he thought that everything was the way it was supposed to be. Candy has been a lovely fantasy, a fantasy that was not meant to be.
Meanwhile, Candy and Albert got into Albert’s car and drove silently for a while.
“It still hurts, doesn’t it?”
“It hurts more than I ever thought possible.”
“I’m truly sorry Candy. If you need to talk, I’m always here for you. I know I’ve been quite absent lately but I can always make time for you. All you need to do is ask. OK?”
“Thank you Albert, thanks for everything.”
They remained silent the rest of the way. There was something Albert had been dying to tell her but he felt it was too soon. She had to get over her rupture with Terry first. Then he could reveal his true feelings. For Archibald was right: after living with her all those months while amnesic, William Albert Andley had fallen madly in love with his adoptive daughter.
A month went by. Annie was back to her house and Candy spent her
nights alone, crying herself to sleep. She was spending most of her days in her
room, thinking desolate thoughts, doing nothing. She was resisting Archibald
and Annie’s attempts to cheer her up, always finding excuses not to go out. She
had no enthusiasm for anything.
Patricia was in a similar mood. She was spending most of her days in church, praying for Stear’s safe return. That seemed to bring her some kind of solace. Candy had joined her a couple of times but realized sadly that she had nothing to pray for, besides Susanna’s death but that was not a Christian thing to do and she was ashamed of herself for having such thoughts.
Annie was getting increasingly concerned about her friend. One day, as they were both in Candy’s room, doing nothing, Candy having refused to go Christmas shopping with Annie, the later said:
“You’re wasting your life!”
“What do you mean?” Candy asked, even though Annie’s words had struck a chord instantly.
“You should go and find Terry.”
Candy felt for a few seconds a pang of delicious hope. Then she thought of Susanna.
“But I can’t,” she said.
“Because of her…” she could not bear to say her name.
“What about you? What about Terry?” Annie was getting exasperated. “I read that he…”
“I don’t care what you read!” interrupted Candy. “I don’t want to know about it. All I know is that she needs him more than I do. You did not see her face when I told her I was leaving. It was pure bliss.”
“Of course it was! She would have been crazy not to be ecstatic! First you saved her life and then you tell her your boyfriend whom she is crazy in love with will be hers. Come on Candy, stop making excuses, just go and talk to him. I know he is as unhappy as you are!”
“Why can’t you understand that we cannot be together? We could not be happy knowing that she lost everything! We cannot do that to her, it would kill her! You of all people should understand that!”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“How did you feel when you thought there was something between Archibald and me?”
Annie became pale.
“It was different!”
“You were not in love with him! If you had, I would never have asked you to step out! Don’t try to make this about me! And stop saying Susanna lost everything! You can only lose things you have. She lost her leg but she did not loose Terry’s love, she never had it! And she never will! Why are you being so stubborn?” Annie was furious, which was a rare instance.
“I’m not being stubborn, I’m being practical! Do you honestly think I could go to New York and tell her “Sorry, I changed my mind, you cannot have him, I want him for myself.”
“This is not about you and Susanna, it’s about you and Terry. You and Susanna cannot fight over him without giving him any say into whatever you decide. You cannot decide for him, it is his life as well. “Annie was exasperated.
“You don’t know him. You did not see how torn he was. He would not have been able to make a reasonable decision.”
“But of course you were! You call reasonable to make a one sided decision, giving him no choice but to stay with a woman he does not love?”
“He will love her eventually, he promised he’ll be happy.”
“But Candy, don’t you read the papers? He is not happy! He got fired! There are rumors…”
Annie took out a piece of newspaper from her purse.
“Here, read for yourself.”
Candy took the paper and threw it furiously without reading it in the fireplace where a fire was burning.
“What is wrong with you? Can’t you see I’m only trying to help?”
“I don’t need your help!”
“Can’t you for once accept that you are not strong enough to deal with this alone? There is no shame in asking friends for help,” Annie pleaded.
Candy looked at her with infinite sadness.
“There is nothing you can do to help me. Leave me alone.”
Annie left, slamming the door shut behind her.
“She is right,” Candy thought. “I am wasting my life here… “Her life was indeed rapidly falling apart. She started to cry. “Oh, Terry, it is true? You got fired? Why?” How much she would have liked to read the paper now… But no, she must forget about him, he was not part of her life anymore.
“He is Susanna’s and if she loves him as much as she said she did, she should know how to take care of him.”
Candy made a decision. She packed her suitcase, got dressed and went in Albert’s study.
He was not there. She sat on his desk, grabbed a piece of paper and started to write.
Please forgive me for leaving without talking to you.
I am thankful for everything you did for me and offering me a home but there is only one place I can call home and I decided to go back to it.
I need some time alone, to think about what I want to do with my life. Pony’s home is the perfect place for that. And the flu season is upon us and I’m sure they can use a nurse.
She then took another piece of paper and wrote another note.
Dearest Annie, my precious friend,
Thank you for your love and support during all those weeks. I could not have gone through it all without you.
I am sorry for our last conversation. I know you were trying to help me, and you did in a way.
I am going back to Pony’s home. At least temporarily, until I figure out what to do.
Say good-bye to Archibald and Patricia for me. Tell Patricia not to give up hope, I know in the bottom of my heart that Stear will come back.
She got up, took her suitcase and quietly left the house.