Time After Time
by Lady Gato
Conceived and Written by: Lady Gato
Webmistress, Candy Candy Nation
Candy Candy Nation©, 2004-2006
Candy Candy Characters© and Story Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarishi
The following Candy Candy story is my
twist on the tale that has captivated us all for over 25 years. I have based
it mostly on the manga, but some of my favorite anime scenes are also
referenced…you may find scenes that are in neither; I have conjured them up
myself for your entertainment. I have tried to the best of my ability to
remain faithful to the characters, although they are more “updated” and I’ve
tried to develop them further where Mizuki could have and didn’t. However,
given the times I have set the story in, there will be adult situations and language
in certain parts of the narrative…if you do not like to envision Candy Candy in
this vein, I counsel you not to continue…and, if you are not over 18, you will probably enjoy this fic more
when you are.
In the great continental expanse that is the Lower 48 of the United States, in between the established, socially minded East and the entrepreneurial, creative West, lies the area that is called the Midwest. It is a land of hot summers and cold winters, chilling winds and baking sun, with endless prairies that only have the occasional gentle slope to break up the topography. Once the home of the Plains Indians and of the wallowing buffalo, it gave way to the arrival of the white man from the original 13 colonies, who were seeking new frontiers and horizons. Soon the verdant grasses gave way to rolling fields of grain, lowing masses of cattle, pioneer wagons and the railroad. A city on the edge of Lake Michigan became the staging point from the East into the West. In time, it grew to be the industrial and social hub of the Midwest; many great fortunes were made and expanded on the business engines that thrived in it. The name of the city was Chicago. Over generations, it came to be one of the great cities of the United States, and with its influx of Irish, Scots, Poles, Germans, Swedes, Italians, Croatians and other huddled masses from all corners of the world, it carved out its own identity distinct from the Bostons, the New Yorks, and the San Franciscoes of the nation.
For the Midwest, and Chicago in particular, is the land of expansive plains, vast skies, great lakes and big dreams…
* * * * *
Candice White sighed softly as she watched the clouds in the afternoon Michigan sky. If she was quiet enough, focused enough, she could smell Lake Michigan’s particular scent on the waft of the summer breeze. She was lying supine on the gentle grass of her favorite place, a hill she had called Pony’s Hill since she was a child, under the sheltering shade of an old tree she called Father Tree. She bit into a crisp apple, her favorite fruit…she was taking some time for herself, after helping out with the daily household chores. As gregarious and outgoing as she was, she enjoyed quiet moments of solitude and repose…just to think…
She was a sunny girl, athletic of disposition and build, but not very tall…she seemed more interested in being outdoors, climbing trees, listening to music and dancing than in pursuing girly endeavors. She always wore a winning smile, loved a good joke and was curious about new people and places. She had full hair of lush curls, the color of golden wheat. Her eyes were large and expressive, and dark green…sometimes when she was angry, they flashed a green fire that could stop whomever had crossed her dead in their tracks. Her nose was pert and a bit upturned. Her vivid face was a perfect oval, and depending on the season, the scattered freckles across her nose were more noticeable.
She was always industrious and hard to keep down, from a young age. She was physically, mentally and spiritually strong and had an almost abnormal desire to help others, especially the young, the old, the sick and animals. Her earnest goodness and pure soul was almost too good to be real, yet she was quite human. She could be too impetuous and too quick minded…she could be very stubborn if she felt like it and the depths of her empathy sometimes over rode her sense of what was truly meritable and fair. But one thing was for sure…overwhelmingly, people who met her were immediately captivated by her, so strong was her innocent charisma framed in a such a delightful way.
Some things about herself she didn’t know, like where she had really come from, but some things she did know…her birthday was May 7th, 1968. For as long as she could remember, for 15 springs, summers, falls and winters, her home was Pony’s Home. Her family consisted of brothers and sisters, mostly Caucasian, but some African American, American Indian and Latinos…she had even had a little Asian sibling, once. She had no real parents; her parental figures had been two women who lovingly took care of all of them, nurturing them, guiding them, ministering to them. One of the two, a nun by the name of Sister Lane, was the strict enforcer. She was young, energetic, sharp and wiry; but very kind and loving nonetheless. The other, Ms. Pony, was older, matronly and more of a wise grandmother. She had the largest heart and the sagest words. Even though the home Candice lived in was under the jurisdiction of the charitable organization Children’s Town and of Sister Lane’s order, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Victoires, the home was actually funded and run by Ms. Pony, once a member of Chicago’s old money establishment.
Yes, Candice White was an orphan…she had never known that she was an orphan or that her living arrangements were different than the norm…she and the girl she considered her closest sister, Annie, and the boy they considered their closest brother, Tom, thought that it was completely normal to live as thus...every so often one of the children would leave, amidst a great party and well wishes, with a mommy and a daddy…they would think of it as strange…why leave the safe, sheltering cocoon they had to live with a mommy and a daddy?
Then, on their first day of school, they had a rude awakening.
The three of them, Candice, who went by the nickname Candy, Annie and Tom eagerly got ready to go wait for the bus.
“Now remember children, it is a great privilege to go to school…be mindful of your manners, be polite, be kind and friendly to others, and above all, have fun…we will be here awaiting you…” Sister Lane reminded them, as she handed out their packed brown bag lunches and gave them a look over to ensure they were presentable.
Ms. Pony said, “Don’t forget we all love you…this is a wonderful opportunity…and…keep this in mind…… no one can make you feel inferior without your consent …” She said this with a bit of sober reticence, Candy noted. Even though Annie was the more hypersensitive of the two girls, ready to cry at a drop of a hat, Candice was always the more intuitively sensitive…she had the uncanny knack of being able to feel what other people were feeling, and to offer her love and support…she had the gift of healing and soothing…at least, that is what she had always overhead Ms. Pony say to Sister Lane. Candy couldn’t fully understand the weight of the words; as it always was with Ms. Pony and with some of her pronouncements. She never baby talked to them or spoke down to them…she always addressed them as if they were competent adults…Candy knew that when she spoke big words in a sentence like that, it was because she wanted them to pay attention…even if they didn’t fully grasp what she meant.
“Yes Sister Lane…Yes Ms. Pony” the children chimed. Tom set off, ahead, Sister Lane having told him where the bus stop was. Candy and Annie followed, holding hands.
“Why do we have to go to school, anyway!” Tom snorted, once they were on their way and out of earshot. They had some classes at Pony’s Home, taught by Sister Lane. They could recite the alphabet and knew basic spelling…Candy could piece out words from the easy books…they knew numbers up to 100 and could do simple additions and subtractions.
“You heard Ms. Pony…it is a great opportunity…” Candy replied, a bit defensively. She was greatly attached to Ms. Pony.
“I’m….I’m scared…” Annie whimpered, about to cry, as usual.
“Don’t be scared, Annie…I’m here, and Tom is here…we are the 3 Musketeers!” Candy piped up…she had always loved the story of the 3 Musketeers…although there were 4 in actuality…Candy always thought she should be D’Artagnan….he was so cool!
They arrived at the bus stop and waited. The morning seemed pleasant enough and they took in the sights and smells of the new day.
Shortly the bus pulled up, and Candy would never forget that moment for as long as she lived. She never forgot it because it was the first time she realized she was different.
“Good morning…” the children politely said to the bus driver as they boarded.
“You orphans can ride in the back…” the driver said. There was no meanness to it, just impersonal matter of factness. However, the way she said the word…orphans…
No one had ever called them that.
“Ewww!! Who wants to ride with dirty little orphans!!” a voice said, full of disgust.
“I bet they have cooties and smell!!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Candy never thought laughter could sting and hurt…laughter had always been joyful and infectious for her….it made her gay and happy….
Tom, always being thicker skinned, just continued on, but Annie started crying haplessly.
“Come on Annie…” Candy squeaked, taking her hand, half brave; the shock of the incident stunning her. They soberly sat together all the way in the back and said nothing.
There was more of the same at school. For no reason, other than what seemed to Candy to be pure malice, they were picked on, everything from their clothes to their lunches. Recess had been terrible!
“Goodwill Kids!!! Goodwill Kids!! Dirty little Goodwill Kids!!!!”
“Do you have running water at your place?”
“Do you have to go potty out in the woods?”
“That looks like leftovers, to me!”
you read and write?
“I bet you are so poor, that you haven’t even been to the movies!!”
“I bet they don’t even have TV!!”
The worst one, which rung in Candy’s ears for months…
“You don’t even have a mommy or a daddy…they gave you up!! REJECT REJECT REJECT REJECT!!!”
Candy was astonished and disappointed to see that the adults in all of this, the teachers, seemed to condone this behavior. They did nothing to stop it. They seemed to look the other way…as if they did not care about their feelings.
It took all of Candy’s consoling to soothe Annie, who had been hysterical up until then and went hyper at that point. It called up all of Candy’s strength not to break down and cry herself…that REJECT one had been the worst insult of all…
I am a reject…I don’t have a mommy or a daddy….they gave me up…
A Mommy and a Daddy…why don’t I have a Mommy and a Daddy?
The dreadful day finally finished and they couldn’t wait to get back to Pony’ s Home. “I’m never going back!!” Annie wailed as they approached the orphanage. “I’m never going back!! I want a mommy and a daddy!!”
“Shut up, Annie!! I’m tired of hearing you, you big crybaby!! It makes it worse!!” Tom said, although he had felt the barbs by all the cruel comments. It had been the worst day of his life, too. Even though Ms. Pony had always told him there was nothing wrong with boys crying, he somehow knew he had to suck it up…those boys at school would never let him hear the end of it, if they saw him crying.
“Tom…please…” Candy intervened…she felt tired…as if all her upbeat energy had been sapped out of her…she had never known children could be so mean and cruel, for no reason….and adults not willing to step in and to the right thing…why had Ms. Pony and Sister Lane allowed them to go to school, to be exposed to this?
Then, what Ms. Pony had said to them earlier echoed in her mind…. no one can make you feel inferior without your consent…
“We can’t tell them what happened…it would break their hearts…” Candy proclaimed, right before they reached the door of Pony's Home.
“We have to tell them something…we can’t pretend nothing happened…” Tom argued.
“I don’t want to go back…ever!!” Annie wailed again.
“Listen, we will only say something if asked…we all have to be brave and strong…just how they have taught us to…” Candy declared.
“I’m with you, Sis…crybaby here just won’t shut up…” Tom sniped.
“Annie?” Candy said, looking at Annie deeply.
Annie sniffled, trying to calm down.
“Come on…one for all and all for one!” Candy encouraged.
“Okay Candy…but you promise not to leave me alone at school…” Annie agreed, her lower lip still trembling.
‘ONE FOR ALL, ALL FOR ONE!!’ Candy cheered. She had already discovered that exclaiming out loud could immediately uplift you. Tom and Annie followed her leave as she boldly opened the door into Pony’s Home.
When they had been asked how did the day go, Tom spoke first, before Annie would burst into tears, and said, “It was okay…but they called us orphans…”
“I see…” Sister Lane said. She sounded let down by humanity.
“Are we orphans?” Candy asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes, children, but that does not mean you are not loved…” Sister Lane emphatically said, with a tender smile.
Ms. Pony added, “Perhaps we will never know what circumstances brought you here to our little home, but one thing you need to remember, children…you were given life, and now it is your life…you are the keepers of it…you may not have a mother and a father now, but neither Lane nor I know what your future holds…and whatever that future may be, you need be confident that you are creatures of God, and carry a little bit of Him in you…you owe it to yourselves and to humankind to make something of your life…” she smiled at them gently and embraced them in her warm, reassuring arms. Candy didn’t know about Tom and Annie, but she felt better.
Afterwards, children said nothing more about the incident and took this experience in; each individually processing what had transpired. Whether they liked it or not, they had glimpse of how the world would view them.
For Candy, what Miss Pony had said it was something that she would always remember the rest of her life…
Purpose…my life has a purpose and a meaning…I am not a reject…I am a child of God…I AM SOMEBODY…I AM LOVED…
* * * * *
That night and for a few nights after that, Candy had to sleep with Annie, because she was so sad. She would wait until the lights were turned off and she would creep into Annie’s bed.
“I want a mommy and a daddy, Candy…” she would sob, her little body quivering woefully.
“Listen Annie…don’t be sad…I’m here with you…” Candy didn’t know what else say to console her sister.
“I thought we were so happy here…that I was so happy…but now…now I want a family of my own…a mommy and a daddy…then everything will be okay…I won’t have to cry anymore…”
Candy tried to be patient with her. Annie was so easily wounded, and Candy always felt like she had to over protect her…even if she sometimes felt she wanted to be comforted too, from time to time.
“Annie…I promise…I will be your mommy and daddy…I love you…” she said, hugging her.
Annie, unconvinced but grateful for Candy’s promise and love, would sniffle her way to sleep.
One night, Candy saw Ms. Pony sit next to the bed, after Annie had cried herself to sleep.
“You are a great comfort to her, Candy…God Bless you…you have a gift, my dear…the gift of helping others, healing others…even at this tender age, you give it unselfishly of your own self, of your own pure soul and deep heart…it pains Sister Lane and I that other children are not nice to you at school, but unfortunately Candice, the real world is full of people who don’t understand others or are too wrapped up in their own selfishness…people who don’t believe in much of anything to take a chance or a stance…people who are in pain themselves, who are ignorant, who take what is not theirs, people choose to look the other way or who take their spiritual pain out on others…that is why when beings like you come around, the potential to heal and help is so great…just remember Candy, even though the world is full of pain and hurt, you must remember that it is also full of love and light…it is so because the world and everything that is in it was created by a being of Love and Light…and we are here to learn to be beings of Love and Light….you can never give up hope, even when the night is at its darkest and your soul at its most desperate or wounded...”
As usual, Candy listened wide eyed, not fully comprehending the words, but understanding the feelings that Ms. Pony tried to convey...
I wish I had a mother and father…but I have Ms. Pony and Sister Lane…and I know they love me…and that is enough, for me…
* * * * *
Now that they were of school age and could help mind the other children, on Sundays, they all piled into the Home’s van to go to church. It was the Church of St. Peter of the Lake. It was a beautiful church, on the shores of Lake Michigan. They always dressed in their best…they only had second hand clothes donated to them, but good outfits could be turned out with a little patience and a little creativity. Now that they were aware of their situation Candy, Tom and Annie knew that potential mommies and daddies could see them during church and could adopt them.
For several weeks in the spring of 1975, a kindly older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, took an interest in Tom. They had lost their only son during the Vietnam War. They had a large farm and no one to leave it to. They always stopped by to say hello to the children and to Sister Lane and Ms. Pony. One day on their way back from church, Sister Lane announced, “Next Saturday, we are going to the Stevens Farm…”
“Yay!” all the children exclaimed.
The day was great fun…there were all sorts of farm animals and Mr. and Mrs. Stevens were happily showing the children around…but Candy detected they took a special note of Tom and his reactions.
“They want to be his mommy and daddy…” she mused to herself. At first she didn’t know whether to feel sad or happy…but then she saw him reacting to their interest and love and she decided that he looked so happy there amongst the rolling fields and the haystacks…he belonged there. So she decided that she would pray that he would go to them as their son.
Sure enough, a few weeks later, they came for him. He seemed happy to go, as he got into their red Ford pickup truck and waved goodbye.
This only made Annie even more despondent. Worse yet, it was starting to rub off on Candy…when she saw how lovingly the Stevens had taken Tom in, as if he was their own flesh and blood, it made Candice ache in a strange way.
One Sunday, a new couple was presented to the congregation…Mr. and Mrs. Brighton. They looked young and very fine…Candy wondered why they had no children…they seemed nice enough.
Then they started coming by to visit with them after mass…the gentleman seemed interested in Candy, the lady in Annie…made perfect sense Candy thought…I’m the tomboy, she’s the little princess…
Then she hoped, hoped and prayed with all
her might…maybe they would adopt both of them!!
* * * * *
One night, Candy, ever peckish, got up and decided she wanted a glass of milk with graham crackers. She silently crept out of the dormitory where they all slept and tiptoed into the kitchen. She was on her way when the light and sounds coming from the parlor caught her attention. Ever so quietly, she curiously flattened herself against the wall and heard the adult voices….
“We are so pleased Mr. Brighton…we have seen you interact with both Candy and Annie…they will make fine sisters…” Ms. Pony beamed.
“Unfortunately, we can only adopt one…that is why I am here without my wife…these discussions are too distressing for her.”
“Oh…is there anyway we can entreat you to adopt both?” Sister Lane asked. “They really are like true blood sisters, in every which way…”
“We can only adopt one girl…my wife feels she can only handle one…after all the miscarriages she has had, her mental state is a bit fragile, and I do my best to appease her…in fact, the agency said they would only allow us to adopt one girl…her psychiatrist also felt she can only handle one child…”
“We understand…have you decided?” Ms. Pony’s voice was kind.
“Well, my own heart has been tugged by little Candice…my wife has more affinity with Annie…however, she has told me that she will leave it up to me…”
Candy’s heart skipped a beat…he was going to pick her…that would devastate Annie!!
She burst in on the adults…she knew that was against the rules and the worst manners possible, but she had to.
“Please…Mr. Brighton….please pick Annie…she needs a Mommy and Daddy more than I do…please…” she cried.
“Candy, for goodness sakes!” Sister Lane chastised gently, shaking her head to let Candy know she wasn’t pleased with her misbehavior.
“Candy, please let us talk…” Ms. Pony said, motioning for her to go.
But Candy would not give up. She threw herself against Mr. Brighton. “Please, Mr. Brighton…I want you to take Annie…please be her daddy!! It will make me very happy if you do!!”
The adults were astonished at her selflessness.
“Promise…pretty please!!” her dark green eyes were getting red from her crying.
After a few silent minutes, he spoke. “I promise…Candice….I will be Annie’s daddy…” Mr. Brighton said, touched by the fervor and earnestness in the little girl…he knew in his heart that this little girl was truly the child he had longed for.
* * * * *
Annie had never looked so happy….and so pretty…Candy felt a twinge of sadness. Annie eased into her new family like she had been born in it. Candy put on a brave face and told Annie how much she loved her and how happy she was for her. When the luxurious car they were leaving in had left her immediate eyesight, she ran quickly to Pony’s Hill. She nimbly scaled Father Tree….tears were streaming down her face…her sister was no longer her sister anymore…she was Miss Annie Brighton….and the realization of it was hitting Candy…it was hitting her hard….
She stayed there for a while….long after she could not see the car.
Little cards and letters followed...Candy eagerly checked the mailbox on her way back from school every day and her heart would jump every time she saw a piece of mail for her…then…they started coming less and less frequently…first it was a few days, then it was a couple of weeks, then a month…finally, one Saturday, after weeks and weeks of silence, Candy received a letter.
She was so happy that she went to Pony’s Hill to read it uninterrupted by the others.
I’m sorry I have not written…being the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brighton has changed my life…mommy says that I need to leave my past behind…she says I need to leave it all behind…including you….
Please forgive me
Candy couldn’t understand what it all meant…Leave the past behind? Leave her behind? What about those feelings of sisterhood they had? Didn’t Annie love her anymore? Not even as a pen friend? Was it because…
ORPHAN…. The word struck at her, again.
“Oh, Annie, why WHY!!!” Candy cried, feeling betrayed. She had never felt pain this way before…it was disappointment and the crushing of her tender heart in a way she did not comprehend. She ran towards the place that comforted her, Pony’s Hill, in the shade of Father Tree.
She sobbed despondently, feeling sorry for herself, angry even. Her eyes were starting to sting and she wiped them with the back of her hand when she heard, “Why are you crying, little girl?”
Candy looked up.
Standing there, was a boy…an older boy…a teenager…he was dressed head to toe in a Scottish outfit, and he even had bagpipes. He was tall, very fair haired…in fact his blonde hair was so fair, it almost seemed white. His eyes were a sparkling clear blue.
Candy was so taken up by him that she could not respond to his question. Instead she asked, “Wow, why are you wearing your Halloween costume? Why are you wearing a skirt; you’re a boy?”
“Halloween? Oh, you mean my outfit? No, it isn’t for Halloween, just for special occasions…I’m wearing a Scottish kilt...” He moved a bit and his bagpipes let out a mournful sigh.
“What is that! Sounds like thousand snails dying!!” she said, surprised.
He laughed. Candy found it contagious, so she laughed too. The boy regaled her with a broad, sunny smile. “You’re too funny!! These are my bagpipes…do you want to hear them?” he offered.
She blinked and nodded.
He played a bit for her. There was something resoundingly gay yet sadly haunting about the music…it was something that moved you, for sure.
She clapped merrily, momentarily forgetting what had made her so blue.
“You are much lovelier when you smile…” he said, smiling softly at her.
Candy was about to ask “Who are you?” when a small gust from the Lake came and carried Annie’s letter away.
“Oh, no!” she cried, chasing after it. She had to catch up with it and step on it to stop it.
“Hey, what’s your name….mine is Candy…” she said, turning, but the boy was gone.
Had she imagined it?? No, it couldn’t be…it was too real…
She started walking back towards where she had just had the interchange. Something caught her eye.
She knelt, and there in the grass, was a pin. It was gold with enamel…it was a spread eagle, with a thistle clutched in one foot and a checked cloth, the same color of the boy’s skirt, in another. The jewels incrusted in it sparkled in the sun.
“Wow!” she murmured…this was a treasure, for sure. She pressed it against her chest.
“Thank you, whoever you are…” she murmured, feeling better. She stole back quietly into the house put the pin and Annie’s letter in her little keepbox, one that Sister Lane and Ms. Pony had given her last Christmas.
Later that night, she fell asleep wondering who the boy was…he was nice, for sure…like what a prince would be, if she ever met one…
* * * * *
She had never seen him again…and she never heard from Annie again. Candy felt she had all these siblings who had been adopted, but they never cared to let her know how they were doing. Only Tom kept in touch with her, she would occasionally hear from him. He was always inviting her to come visit, but somehow the right time never presented itself.
Sometimes she wondered why she was the only one from her group still left….she was the oldest child there now…all the other ones were babies or young toddlers and they always got adopted so fast. She knew the odds were against her being adopted now…she was too old, a teenager now, on the brink of becoming an adult. Sister Lane had taken to homeschooling her, as she was a great help at the Home and she was learning how to care for others, a very valid path in life.
Life…what is to be of my life?
She sighed, realizing that she had probably spent more than an hour daydreaming. Sister Lane would tolerate this, because she worked so hard. Sister Lane was so strict but she was a real softie inside, Candy knew. She got up and brushed the grass from her clothes. She hummed a song, happily. If there was something that was constant in Candice White, it was that she was an eternal optimist and a true believer in hope…even if she had times where she had been sad, despondent or melancholy, she knew that there was always light at the end of the tunnel. Life was too short to dwell too much on the sadness.
As she arrived at Pony’s home, she was startled to see a large, foreign made car parked outside. The last time she had seen a car so luxurious was when Annie had left…her heart raced…maybe Annie had come visiting, after all these years! She yelped happily and tore into the house, calling her beloved sister’s name.
She would never forget what she heard next for the rest of her life…the greeting that changed everything for her:
“Hello, Miss White, pleased to meet you. My name is George Johnson….”