Happy Women’s Day, my friends! This story is a what if scenario. 😍 I got inspired after listening to a Japanese song and reading my friend Candy Bert’s new story, Un amour dans la tourmente!
I hope you like it. ❤
– Ms Puddle
Disclaimer: Candy Candy and all characters belong to Kyoko Mizuki, images to Yumiko Igarashi and anime to Toei Animation.
As the train was steadily making its way towards the unfamiliar platform, Candy could see the name “Rockstown” gleaming in a distance. She felt as though her pounding heart was going to burst any second, and she pressed her palm against her heaving chest, unable to suppress the hope that she might actually find Albert here. This was after all the place where he had sent her a package, and she had already imprinted his words in her memory,
A present for Spring in advance
Thinking about you wherever I am…
To her, it was a strong hint that he missed her just as much, and he was staying in this small town for some reason.
Spring coat, a brand new one… Her fingers, of their own volition, were brushing the invisible dust off its smooth fabric. It’s highly likely he works somewhere in this place, or else how and where he got the money to buy me this?
Indeed, she could tell the coat was of fine quality. It would have easily cost him more than half of his monthly wage back when he had been washing dishes at a restaurant.
How I miss those days, even though we had empty pockets… pretending to be brother and sister.
For the time being, some passengers of this half occupied train began to fetch their belongings. All of a sudden, a doubt sliced through Candy like a sharp knife, what if he’s already wandered off to another place?
She shook her head violently to chase away this negative thought; feeling more anxious than ever, she raised the piece of paper that she had been holding up to her eye level. It was a portrait of Albert, and she thought, Dr. Martin, thank you so much for drawing this for me. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to see it… I can almost imagine his surprise…
A giggle escaped her lips, and a big smile materialized on her face. She then whispered to the portrait, “Please wait for me. I’m here at last.”
She was back to her optimistic self, and she promptly grabbed her suitcase. The first thing she would do was to ask where the post office was. In such a small town, she supposed there would be only one post office. Surely someone at the post office must have remembered him…
But to her chagrin, nobody recognized the man in the portrait. She felt like someone had just given her a heavy blow to her stomach. One man even said to her, “I’ve been here all my life, and everyone knows everyone by name, practically. If we have newcomers, we will notice.”
They were essentially telling her that Albert wasn’t among the visitors that had recently come to town. While her hope was dashed, Candy thanked them nonetheless, barely able to blink back the tears of disappointment and swallow the lump in her throat.
Now what? she asked herself, feeling downcast and lost. Her suitcase seemed heavier than usual, and she wondered if she should simply take the next available train back to Chicago. However, she leaned against the wall outside the post office and closed her eyes, searching her heart and soul. Is coming here a waste of time? Why do I want to see Albert so badly? If he asks me point blank why I have come, what am I going to tell him? Just to say hi? Really, what do I want? Ask him to come back to Chicago with me? But why? He’s already recovered… no longer weak and sick…
Bombarded by all the questions bouncing around her skull, she felt as if her head was spinning. She was terribly confused, if not nonplussed. The only certain thing she knew was that he held a special spot in her heart, and the prospect of never seeing him again crushed her soul. Yes, he often appeared to her out of nowhere, but there was no guarantee when he would show up again. That was one reason why his absence had been unbearable. She had no idea when they would ever cross paths in their lives.
No matter how many times she had reminded herself that he was a traveler, and he was under no obligation to visit her, she pined for him so much that his face had occupied her mind during her waking hours. She had even attempted to draw a picture of him so that she could find him instead of idling the time away. It was true they were merely friends, despite living together for a long time. However, she hadn’t thought twice about traveling all the way here. She just had to take a chance.
At this point, her stomach growled; she hadn’t eaten much since this morning as the excitement and uncertainties of the trip had flustered her. She supposed it was time to find a place to sit down and ponder her next moves, so she randomly walked into a bakery connected to a small café. After paying for a cup of tea and a large piece of cookie, she picked a table at a quiet corner. Just when she was about to take her first bite, a middle-aged woman came to her table and greeted her, “Good afternoon, young lady, what have brought you here to our humble little town today?”
So the people at the post office were right. Candy was immediately identified as a new face. She then flashed the woman a smile, saying, “I’m here to look for an old friend who has recently settled here.”
Needless to say, Candy was saying that in an attempt to boost her flagging confidence. The woman seemed to be able to see through her and asked, “Any luck so far?”
“I just arrived,” replied Candy after swallowing a chunk of cookie. The woman wanted to help, so she asked, “What’s his name? What does he look like?”
Without hesitation, Candy showed her Albert’s portrait. Regrettably, the woman couldn’t recall seeing him either. “I tell you, young lady, I won’t forget a handsome face like this…”
Then a man unexpectedly appeared behind her, wrapping his arm around the woman and asking in a casual tone, “What’s up, my dear wife? Who’s handsome here?”
He said “hi” to Candy then winked at the woman, who showed him the portrait in her hand. The man examined the piece of paper for about half a minute before passing it back to Candy. Then what he said next caught them both off guard. “He’s from Chicago, right, miss?”
“Yes!” Candy’s eyes lit up in no time, standing up so fast that her chair fell over backwards. The man first wiggled his eyebrows up and down, looking at his wife with pride, and then he bent over to help Candy put the chair back to its place.
The loud noises attracted curious glances from the other customers, but the young lady couldn’t care less. Not only her pretty face was flushed with exhilaration, but her hands were noticeably shaking as she gingerly put the portrait back inside her suitcase. Then she eagerly followed up, “So where is Al-… I mean… where can I find my friend?”
The man placed a peck on his wife’s cheek before he offered, “Young lady, please follow me. I know where he works.”
Candy was thrilled yet tried to contain her impatience. She gave the woman a quick hug before leaving with her husband, but the woman couldn’t help trailing after them, shouting and waving her right arm, “Wait for me!”
It turned out that this couple were the owners of the bakery, and the man regularly delivered fresh breads to the only high class restaurant in town. “Your friend helps out in the kitchen, but I forgot his name,” the man said. “He rarely shows up in the neighborhood, and even if he does, he puts on dark sunglasses.”
That’s Albert for sure, Candy thought with high hopes. As she envisioned Albert’s reaction to seeing her here in this town, her pulse raced and her palms started to sweat. She felt like dancing on the streets, and her suitcase wasn’t heavy anymore. She just wished the man could walk faster. Although he continued talking, she couldn’t hear a word; the sound of her thumping heart was roaring in her ears.
Soon, the man led the two ladies to the back of a fancy restaurant, heading towards the hustling and bustling kitchen. A chef checked the schedule and informed the visitors, “Albert should be here any moment. His shift starts in about fifteen minutes.”
While Candy found this too good to be true, the middle-aged man bid her goodbye. “Good luck, young lady.” The man then turned to his wife, “Come on, honey, let’s go.”
Candy thanked them wholeheartedly and politely followed them out through the backdoor of the restaurant, waving goodbye behind them. It was then she heard a familiar man’s voice from her left, “Candy? Is that you?”
Candy jumped and turned sideways, and her suitcase fell to the ground with a thud. She craned her neck and squinted her eyes as the sun was still high up in the sky. The man with the towering figure removed his dark sunglasses, and he blinked with disbelief painted all over his astonished face. He was dressed in a black sweater with a white scarf around his neck, exactly the same as she had last seen him before his sudden disappearance.
Somewhere within earshot, the woman from the bakery yelped, “Oh, darling! He looks even better than expected!” But her husband placed a finger before his lips to hush her.
Meanwhile, at the very sight of Albert, realization hit Candy like a brick. He was no longer a big brother to her. Her whole being longed to throw herself at him, but she was frozen to the spot, too dumbstruck to move or speak. She had lost count of how many nights she had cried herself to sleep, missing her vagabond friend, but now that he was within her arm’s reach, she was paralyzed by the riptide of emotions surging through her. When uncontrollable tears streamed down her cheeks, she could at most use her tremulous hand to cover her quivering lips.
Similarly, Albert just stood there, staring at his friend as though his body had been petrified into a stone. His earlier astonishment had transformed into a mix of puzzlement and suspicion about Candy’s intentions. Unbeknownst to him, some kitchen staff had come out, also intrigued to see what would take place now that a pretty blond girl had traveled all the way from Chicago to look for her handsome friend. They suspected there must be more to their so-called friendship.
Presently, the glistening wetness on the lady’s cheeks caught the young man’s attention, and he took a step forward and reached out to gently wipe her tears with his fingers. At the touch of his hands, her sparkling eyes immediately doubled in size as if electric current had shot through her. When her gaze finally met his, he suddenly tugged her into his arms, making her gasp in surprise, but she melted within seconds. Only then she perceived what she had craved — to be engulfed in his embrace and enveloped by his familiar fragrance. As she sought solace by burying her face in his warm chest and wrapping her arms around his firm torso, he leaned forward, mumbling under his breath, “Why did you come, Candy? It’s dangerous to travel this far just by yourself… plus, there are too many things you don’t know… about me… ”
She was too stirred to articulate an answer. Not to mention that she didn’t really understand her own feelings either. All she wanted now was to savour the moment when she could feel his arms encompass her and his warm breath on her hair. Who knew how long this hug would last? After all, she was aware of the presence of onlookers. Besides, she still found it difficult to believe this was happening, that she could physically hold her best friend tight. At the same time, the desire to follow him wherever he would go was rapidly rising within her, urging her not to return to Chicago alone.
Oblivious to her inner thoughts, he pulled her petite frame closer to him and continued, his voice thickening, “You don’t even know my last name.”
No sooner than he had said this, her ability to speak returned. She loosened her arms and raised her rosy cheeks, saying aloud, “I don’t care!” Then she paused, biting her bottom lip and taking a deep breath. “You’re always Albert to me.”
Upon hearing her response, his eyes widened incredulously and his body tensed. Her unconditional acceptance had thrown him off balance, but a flabbergasted moment later, an understanding and affectionate smile crept over his face. Her words had touched his heart, and his expression reflected emotions. As his features relaxed, he fixed his twinkling blue eyes on her teary ones, tenderly running his fingers through her soft curls before pressing her cheek against his beating heart.
Being locked in his loving arms, tears of joy continued to flood her eyes and spill over. She was convinced that there was no place she’d rather be and no one she’d rather be with. As a matter of fact, on the way to Rockstown, Candy had considered demanding answers from Albert: what had motivated him to conceal his recovery from her and why he had to disappear without giving her a proper goodbye. However, feeling wonderfully safe and inexplicably content in his tenderness, she wasn’t in the mood to ask anything. As long as he was with her, she would eventually figure out the answers to the burning questions in her head.
Not a thing, I can’t see a thing,
I couldn’t stop crying,
But I’m not sad,
Feeling the warmth of your body makes me happy
Ahh… don’t go, don’t go
Never ever leave me
Ahh… don’t go, don’t go
Stay with me like this
One day, my heart will be somewhere far away,
When everything will become memories
I wish not to know any of that
I wish not to know any of that
Ahh… don’t go, don’t go
No matter what happens don’t ever leave me
Ahh… don’t go, don’t go
Stay with me like this
“Candy?” a man’s voice rang in her ears. Someone was shaking her shoulder. “Candy?”
She sneezed, and then she opened her eyes sluggishly. Dr. Martin’s concerned eyes greeted her, and he exclaimed, “For Heaven’s sake, how long have you been sleeping outside my clinic?”
For a moment Candy was at a loss. A bit disoriented, she felt exceptionally cold from the wind. As she rubbed her arms to ward off the chill, she heard the doctor ask, “And look at you! Have you been crying?”
His last question finally snapped her back to reality. She felt warm blood coming up into her cheeks as though Dr. Martin knew what her dream was all about. Unfortunately she had forgotten most details; why did I cry? The only remnant in her memory was that she was overjoyed to have successfully located Albert in Rockstown. Thus, she hurriedly wiped her face, pulled herself up from the ground and brushed the dirt off her thick coat. There was no time to lose, so she entered the clinic with the doctor, relating to him about the parcel she had received yesterday after work.
“Albert has sent it from a place called Rockstown… Hence, I could hardly have a wink of sleep last night… my head was full of various scenarios of what might happen if I go there… I have a strong feeling he’s expecting me…”
As her voice faded away, she averted her eyes. The doctor heaved a deep sigh, casting her a worried glance. While he poured her a cup of hot coffee, she continued her explanation, “Therefore, at the crack of dawn, I dragged myself here, standing against the door of Happy Clinic, waiting for you to wake up, Dr. Martin… I don’t remember how I ended up falling asleep…” she chuckled embarrassingly, sticking out her tongue in a silly manner.
He laughed, shaking his head. Then, after a long moment of sipping his coffee in silence, he asked, “When are you planning to go?”
“As soon as possible, Dr. Martin,” the nurse couldn’t have responded sooner. Then she lowered her eyes and wrapped her hands around the warm cup, adding in a rueful tone, “I hope you don’t mind I take a couple of days off…”
The doctor sensed that she had determined to go regardless of his answer. “By all means,” he approved before letting out a long sigh of resignation. “Want me to accompany you to buy the train ticket to… what was the name of that place again?”
George reached the president’s office and knocked. When he heard “Come in”, he pulled the handle down and swung open the heavy door. The young president was apparently busy working on some documents.
“Sir William, I just received an update,” said George, approaching the large and polished ebony desk in the office. When the striking blue eyes met the dark ones, George cleared his throat and added, “Concerning Miss Candice.”
At that, Albert’s placid expression was instantly replaced by a worried frown. “Is she alright?”
“I believe so,” said George in a calm tone, handing an envelope to his boss. “Sir William, please excuse me. I have other tasks at hand.”
At the young man’s nod, George turned around and took big strides to leave the spacious office, giving his boss some privacy to read the report from their private investigator.
Before the door was entirely shut, Albert had already unfolded the report to read. It was very brief, mainly about Miss Candice’s purchase of one way ticket to Rockstown. Her departure was tomorrow, and the private investigator would board the same train.
“Tomorrow?” Albert mumbled, taken aback. “That soon?”
A thought flashed across his mind. Does she miss me… too?
He pushed himself away from his desk, heaving a sigh and leaning back in his high-back leather chair with his eyes closed. Though his heart warmed at the idea, he forcefully extinguished the hope as soon as it appeared. Ever since he had stepped out of the House of Magnolia that winter night many weeks ago, he had resolved not to let himself harbour romantic notions about her anymore. This was the ultimate reason why he had to vanish in her life, and by leading her back to Terry would definitely help him forget about her.
You will forgive me, Candy… won’t you? When you see Terry in such a miserable state, you will understand why I have led you there… I believe you still love him with all your heart… in spite of the breakup roughly a year ago… Candy, you have suffered long enough, and what can make you happier than reuniting with Terry? It’s the least I can do… for you.
Yet, Albert couldn’t possibly ignore the tightness in his heart that gripped him at the moment. He swallowed hard and slowly pulled himself up to his full height, peering out through the window into the twilight. As he imagined Candy’s immense happiness of leaving Rockstown with Terry, Albert felt somewhat comforted by his plan of killing two birds with one stone. Thus, he looked for the brightest star in the sky and made a sincere wish. Candy, have a safe trip. Best wishes to you… and Terry.
Writer’s note: First and foremost, I have translated the beautiful song 行かないで (Don’t go), composed by the singer/songwriter 玉置浩二 (Kōji Tamaki), as best I could. It’s one of my favourite love songs. 💕🎵 If you have any other suggestion regarding the translation, please feel free to let me know. 🙂
This minific is mainly based on the manga version but I have borrowed some ideas from Candy Candy Final Story (CCFS) too. Although the Rockstown episode in CCFS isn’t as detailed, the outcome has remained the same. Candy and Terry continued their separate ways after this “encounter”. She didn’t even talk to him, but somehow he managed to emerge from his depressed state. Many months later, Candy wrote to Miss Eleanor Baker that she had gone to Rockstown for a missing friend who had helped her a lot. For your interest, you can read my earlier posts, To truly love someone… and Candy and Prince on the Hill (Part 5).
I publish this one-shot on Women’s Day for a reason. Mizuki created the main heroine in Candy Candy as a strong-willed woman. More than once in the story, Candy had pursued her heart’s desires, willing to fight for her happiness. 💓 Hence, she wasn’t the type that would wait indefinitely for something favorable to happen (like someone to finally leave her beloved alone). 😉 Nor would Candy let the past govern her future. 🙂 Rather than getting bogged down by obstacles and disappointments in life, she came out stronger and moved on. 🙋