By Mallory Quinn
"A dangerous decision"
Summer was gone to leave the place to the fresh air of fall. It was the year 1915, Europe was still at war and thousands of people were dying every day. America, who was situated on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, seemed to have been spared only by its land and its goods, thanks to its geographical situation. Because, among the thousand of voluntary that were going to the war, a lot were killed. Doctors and nurses were in need; a lot of them were getting killed. Volunteers were needed from all over the world. The war was spreading worldwide, little by little.
Candy was still working at the Happy clinic and her days were always full. She was still living alone in the little apartment she used to share with Albert…. Albert… She loved him a lot and she cherished every second spent with him. Then to learn that he was her Uncle William, her benefactor…he immediately stopped her forces nuptials with Neil Reagan. The calm had come back into her life. She had a routine. She was still nice and smiling even when she was sad, so she won’t worry her entourage. She often thought about her friend and colleague Flammy Hamilton, who was sent to the front, how courageous she was. If it had been her, maybe she would’ve avoided all that pain and suffering brought by her break up with Terry…. Terry… Terrence Grandchester, the love of her life, which she had sacrificed for duty and moral obligation. Duty and moral obligation…but the pain was still there. When she had nothing else to do, when she had nothing to say, when she was not busy doing something or talking to people… she thought about him, about their lost happiness. No…. that was not true, she always thought about him, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
She had just arrived at the apartment, after a busy day at the clinic. She ate her dinner and sat down to read the paper. When she got to the society page, she saw a picture that shocked her. She read the headline of the page;
"THE WEDDING OF THE CENTURY IN THE THEATRE WORLD: TERRENCE GRANDCHESTER MARRIES SUSANNA MARLOWE! So the legend of theatre is true, all the actors playing Romeo and Juliet end up getting married... But Susanna…"
Candy’s eyes were filled with tears and it started to come down her cheeks, abundantly. It was not fair! Terry, it was her Terry! She should’ve married Terry! She had received a one-way ticket for New York. Terry wanted her to stay with him, so they could live their life together…but she had left him to make it easy for him. He had caught her on the hospital stairs, to wish her good luck… wish her good luck! He didn’t ask her to stay, to find a solution together… but to wish her good luck and make her promise she would be happy… he had let her go. She had left without turning back once.
Now, he had married Susanna Marlowe, Susanna who had prevented her from seeing Terry, Susanna who had saved Terry’s life and lost her leg, Susanna who was crazy in love with her Terry…
"Oh Terry, if I had known it would hurt so much, continuously, I would never have left you…"
She was sad and she was also angry… Angry with the world, the universe, destiny! She was an orphan; she didn’t have any family, abandoned as a baby, adopted to be almost reduced to slavery by the Reagans. She thought she had found happiness with Anthony, her prince, who had come to deliver her from the evil Reagans. She felt like Cinderella with him… but the happiness was short lived, too short… then there was Terry, her soul mate and that too was short lived. They say you have to do good around you so you can live in peace with everybody and the world will be good to you. The bible says
"Seek first the Kingdom of heaven, and God’s justice. And every thing will be given to you in addition…"
She went to church, she prayed, she helped people as much as she could, she was always devoted to help others in need… she was not selfish, on the contrary, she was generosity incarnate! The only thing she wanted was to live with the man she loved. But even that, she put someone else needs before hers; the only thing for which she could’ve been selfish and every body would have understood her, she gave it up for duty and moral obligation, for Terry. Maybe she was too good for her own good? Maybe she should’ve stayed with the one she loved with all her heart? But, didn’t she do a selfless act? Shouldn’t she be rewarded?
"Oh, Candy stop thinking like that! You’re becoming ridiculous!" she thought.
But the anger was still there. She went to her bedroom; she took her pillow and started to hit her mattress with all her strength, to let off steam. All those months, she was strong; she kept everything inside…. She needed that, she yelled; hit the wall, the floor, and the bed… until she calmed herself. The room was a mess the pillow torn and all the feathers flying around the room. She lay down on the bed and continued crying. She cried herself to sleep. A good night sleep, advises you. But she had a really really bad night, that day.
In New York, miles from there, Terrence Grandchester was looking out the window. He had just got married, he had fulfilled his duty, but he was only an empty shell without life or purpose. Duty had separated him from the one he loved more than anything in this world. He had hit rock bottom and had come back up because of her.
"Freckles of love, what did we do for the odds to be against us like this? Maybe are we paying for the sins of our fathers? The bible says; …because I the Lord your God, am a jealous God, who punishes the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…I know the news of my wedding is going to hurt you… forgive me, my love, forgive me for everything… you’re the one I wanted to marry… I love you and I will love only you…"
Susanna knew that, by saying that, he was only pretending and that he’d come to bed very late, after she had fallen asleep, to say the least. She had accomplished her dream, she had married the man she loved more than anything in this world, but he never looked at her with love. He was practically forced to marry her; duty and moral obligation. But she had the man she loved near her and she had no intention of letting him go, even though she knew he was thinking about another woman.
Candy woke up at dawn after a very bad, sleepless and agitated night. She got ready to go to work, but she had a stop to make before going to the clinic. She had been thinking about for a while, the news she learned the night before, had just encouraged her to make a decision she was hesitating to make. So she was walking in the streets of Chicago still deserted at that time of the day, and it was a little cold outside. She walked until she arrived in front of a building; she entered and went to the reception, there was a lady in her fifties. She smiled when she saw Candy arriving.
Candy sat down in one of the seats and started to fill out the forms. If her friends could see her, they would scream in horror. But nurses were in demand during the war; a lot of them were afraid to get killed and didn’t go to the war, but those who wanted to help with the wounded of war, didn’t hesitate to go. Candy needed something to occupy her mind. She was always busy working of course, but…. She needed a change, a total upheaval. The war, yes she’s going to risk her life, but she would also save some. She finished filling out the forms and gave them to the receptionist, who took them to the coordinator. A few minutes later, Candy was greeted in the coordinator’s office. She was a nice lady in her forties.
Candy thought in her head that if she had married Terry, she would’ve never thought about risking her life by going to the war, she would’ve maybe been in the family way… No, Susanna is going to have that privilege now!!!
Ms. Hudson looked at her and saw the determination in this beautiful young woman’s look. She also saw sadness, a broken heart? Whatever it was, she didn’t seem to be afraid to risk her life to save others.
Candy got out to the building a little relieved. She was going to the war. Her friends are going to be horrified. She decided to tell them the truth as soon as possible. She went to work and announced the news to Dr. Martin, her boss at the Happy Clinic.
She didn't have the time to think about Albert in relationship term when her thoughts were with Terry who was now married to Susanna... married to another woman! She started to work and during lunchtime, she went to see Archie and Annie at the Andrew manor. She was hoping Albert was there so she won't have to repeat herself. She got her wish; she found all three of them having lunch.
She sat down and a server brought her a plate. She started to eat with them. She didn’t want to spoil their appetite… Once the meal was finished, they sat in the living room to have tea. She finally decided to announce her "good news".
They were speechless for a little while and finally…
Albert was the only one not to have said anything. He looked at his protégée and he knew she was hurt by the news of Terry and Susanna’s wedding. She was going to the war, so she won’t think about it. Candy approached him, and they went in the library to talk alone.
Candy knew that he was talking about Terry and Susanna’s wedding. Albert read her like a book.
Albert hugged her and was caressing her hair; he let her cry, she needed that. She had been so courageous after the break up. She didn’t know that Terry had come to see her and he left to go .back to New York and Susanna, because of her…
"No, you weren’t wrong. He came for you… But he left without talking to you, because I convinced him that you were happy and that you didn’t want to open old wounds.." thought Albert.
Annie and Archie had just come in, they were still outraged.
Candy went back to the clinic to finish her day. After work, she went back to her apartment to eat and then she went to the Red Cross for the crash course for wartime. It was a little course on how to behave, where the priorities were, because there were sometimes, decisions to make on which wounded to take care of first or not. Candy found the courses very useful; you had to put feelings aside and see only the wounds, not the race, not the nationality…
The following days, Doctor Martin found another nurse and Candy was able to go to the Pony House to say goodbye to her two mothers. They were devastated.
The children were listening and were also devastated; John went to get Jimmy at the Cartwright farm to tell him the news. Jimmy arrived all panicked while Candy was talking to her two mothers.
Miss Pony and Sister Maria were looking at Candy, smiling. What a good and courageous young girl they had raised! She was going to war, going to risk her own life, to help others.
When Candy left the next morning, everybody was crying. Mr. Cartwright, Jimmy’s father and Mr. Steed Tom’s father who had came to say good bye and wish her good luck, also had tears in their eyes.
She got into the carriage and went to the train station with Tom, who hadn’t said a word about the war, much to Candy’s big surprise. They arrived at the train station in advance; the train was not there yet. Tom finally decided to break his silence.
Candy looked at her big brother, he saviour, who knew her so well. She hugged him hard with tears in her eyes.
They talked about this and that until the train arrived. Candy got on after kissing Tom on the both cheeks.
The train left and Candy wiped her tears. She was leaving America soon for the war in France…Maybe it was madness, but she felt like it was something she wanted to do, something she had to do.
Annie was spending all her days with Candy and she had sent a telegram to Patty in Florida and this last one took the first train for Chicago to come and say goodbye to her best friend. She went with Annie to Candy’s apartment.
Annie approached them and they had a group hug for a while.
The three friends had fun doing Candy’s luggage, Annie wanted her to bring all her dresses, she even bought her more…
She wanted to please her friends.
She started to brush Candy’s long blond hair and she put a headband on, which made Candy’s hair fall on her shoulders.
The little girl with pigs tails was gone to leave her place to a young woman, sure of herself, independent and with more determination than ever!