Two Loves and
'We're at Pony's home, having dinner with the
kids, Sister Mary, Miss Pony and Albert… I mean Grand Uncle Williams Andley. So
many things have happened lately that is great to be back at home; it makes me
feel more relaxed...' the girl sighed and made a face. 'By now I'd be engaged to
Neil if it wasn't for Albert's help ewww!' She shook her head and put the nasty
memory away. 'Mmh I feel so good here!'
Those were Candy's thoughts, who had excused herself for a moment from the lunch table to take a walk and breathe a bit more of the peace she felt every time she visited Pony's Home. No matter how much time passed, that place remained the same. She stopped her walk in front of that big tree that she used to climb up when she was a little girl. The father tree had been a silent witness of her crossing from a little girl to a woman, her ups and downs, her happiness and her sadness. She knew that each time she had a problem, or she was feeling lonely or she needed a word of advise she could go back to Pony's and climb up the tree... she could easily clean the doubts and worries from her mind with the soft and warm breeze that ran through the branches and leaves sounded like a whisper in her ears. It felt as if he was talking to her.
Candy looked up and felt that the Father Tree was giving her a silent invitation. She smiled and asked to herself, 'Why not?' She got closer and was about to start climbing when a voice interrupted her action. If that had happened a few seconds later when she was already on the tree, she would've fallen and surely would be nursing a sore spot on her body.
'Can you teach me?' Albert said appearing from nowhere, his hands in his pockets and smiling as usual.
She tried to recover from the first impression; she really thought she was alone there. 'You want to learn how to climb a tree? You've never done it before?'
'Never, I was always surrounded by people that were taking constant care of me and for this reason I missed a lot of things on my childhood. I always wanted to climb up trees but it was "too dangerous,"' he said imitating the voice of grandmother Elroy.
Candy laughed. 'Ok I'll teach you but if you fall it's not my fault ok? I'll go first and will help you. Now pay attention to where I go and which branches I use.'
'Ok,' he said, following her.
And she started to climb up until she reached the first branch; once there she stretched her hand and offered her help to Albert. He took it and with some effort he managed to arrive to that same branch. He scratched his head and said 'this is tough'. Candy continued with the next branch and so on, until she reached the highest one of the tree with Albert.
'See? It's easy'? she said.
'Well yes.. but I think the hardest part will be going down. At least I know that if something happens to me I have a great nurse by my side,' Albert said smiling and winking at her.
'And a very good one, if I may add,' she joked waving her index finger in the air and closing her eyes pretending to be a very important nurse.
'Did Annie ever climb up when you two were kids?' he asked.
'No, she was always too afraid of falling down. Just like Miss Pony or Sister Mary, they always got very scared each time I did it. They said their hearts were about to explode of anxiety and the Sister was praying 10.000 holy fathers by hour,' she said laughing.
'And did you ever fall down?'
'Nothing serious… but once a kid from the house climbed up with me and fell heavily on the floor. Didn't you see the cross on his grave in the back of the home?' Candy said pretending to be sad just remembering the memory.
'REALLY?' Albert said with eyes wide open, extremely concerned by what Candy had told him. He looked down at the floor and imagined himself lying there, unconscious. A cold chill ran down his spine at the thought.
Candy couldn't resist looking at his face expression and started laughing out loud. Right in that moment he understood he had fallen for her joke and tried to smile… but still a little doubt remained on his heart thinking that maybe there was some truth to the story.
'I'm sorry, but I couldn't help making that joke… you should've seen your face! You were as pale as a piece of paper!'
'Mmh I think it wasn't as funny for me as it was for you, but if you could really see the poisonous spider you have on your shoulder right now I'd be worried…' he said.
'A spider? Where? Where?' she screamed almost losing her balance. This time she was the one making a funny face. Albert only got his hand close to her shoulder and removed a tiny piece of leaf that had fallen probably when they were climbing.
'Oh my mistake,' he said showing it, 'but from here it really looked like a dangerous spider'. This time he was the one laughing.
'Ha ha ha, how funny… but I guess we're even right?' she said.
'Yes, it seems so.'
Suddenly a warm breeze started to run through the leaves of the tree, making their hair dance with a soft rhythm. She closed her eyes, laid her head back, and let the breeze caress her face. Albert only turned his face to see why all of a sudden she was in silence. In her face he saw peace, happiness, tranquility… things he was also starting to feel; it seemed that the Father tree was welcoming them both in his branches and invited them to forget their sadness and worries.
He also closed his eyes. 'It feels so good up here.'
'Yes, there can be many trees in the world but this is the only one that understands me and helps me.'
And so they spent a few minutes in silence. Maybe Candy didn't have many worries in her head now and we could say she was fine in many ways; but Albert did. He had many things to think of, he knew a truckload of responsibilities and decisions were coming to his future. But somehow she seemed to be right, the peace he was feeling in that moment was so similar to the one he felt when he was with his animals, his dear friends… but he knew there was also something more to that. He was feeling something that neither the tree nor his animals had made him feel before… was it Candy the one making this moment more special? He opened his eyes again and looked at the road that was close to Pony's Home. He saw a farmer taking his animals from one side of the road to the other, also a gentleman that looked like the postman.
'I can see a lot of things from here,' he said looking at the horizon. 'Candy, what are you going to do now?'
'Me?' she said coming back to reality and opening her eyes. 'I don't know, maybe I'll stay here for some time until all that mess with Neil is forgotten. Then I want to continue working.'
'Somehow I have the feeling that things won't be forgotten that easily… besides I still have to introduce myself to the family and society,' Albert said.
'That's true, but what if you don't do it and continue your life in the way you like it?' she asked.
'I have to do it, I have to face my responsibilities and that's one of them… besides it's the only way I can help you,' he replied.
'Well if that's what you want Albert, I mean Grand Uncle Williams…' she joked and laughed.
'Oh come on I'm only Albert,' he said, 'and I hope that nothing will change between us now that you know the truth about me.'
'How can you say that? You're one of my best friends and there's no reason for changing,' she said and he smiled at her words.
Suddenly they heard voices from far away. 'Candy!!! Candy!!!'
'Is it me or somebody's calling me? She said looking everywhere.
'Yes but who? Oh look over there,' he said pointing at the floor.
And just like in the old times, Sister Mary and Miss Pony were begging her to come down. 'See what I told you? We're coming Miss Pony!' she screamed out at them.
'Look Albert, we'll go down in the same way we climbed up, branch by branch, ok?' He nodded and started their way down, but as he didn't have much practice he fell on the floor when he was only two branches away from success. Fortunately it only resulted on a small pain on his behind. Slowly he stood up while Candy finished her journey.
Sister Mary had her crucifix in her hands. 'See Candy? I've always told you this is dangerous!'
Miss Pony just smiled thinking that some things never change. 'Come on, I'll serve dessert.'
And the kids of the foster home suddenly appeared and pushed their teachers back to the kitchen because they wanted to eat dessert. Again, Candy and Albert were alone.
'Are you alright? She asked to see him walking with some difficulty.
'Yes, well at least I didn't die,' he joked caressing his sore behind.
And they went back to their table. Albert had heard that Miss Pony cooked the best desserts of the state and he couldn't wait to try them.