A/N: Oh my God, this is so bad. But the idea got stuck in my head and I simply could not put it out. It's [gulps] a modern AU of Anne of the Island, and it's really all over the place. I just kind of banged in out a ten-minute timespan. This chapter is really short—kind of just a test chapter for me, and the story might get changed to a T rating later. I'm still feeling my way around this story, so to speak. Anyway, please let me know what you think in a review. Even if you hate the concept and think that it's atrocious.
The Education of Anne Shirley
From: Anne Shirley [annewithanE]
To: Diana Barry [princessdiana]
Subject: My first week
Well, my first week at Redmond has come to a close. There were times when it seemed to fly by, as though the hand of time rested on the wings of a mighty eagle, and others where it dragged on like the tortoise crossing the proverbial finish line. I've got so much to tell you, that I'm not even sure if I can remember to write it all down. I can't wait to hear back from you—I'm dying to hear the news from Avonlea, although Mrs. Lynde sent me a dreadfully long email detailing the latest happenings. But I want to hear it all from you, Diana, and no one else.
Firstly, I have to describe Kingsport to you. It's completely different from Avonlea—and I'll never love it as much—but it's perfect in its own, unique way and I really hope that one day you'll make it down here to visit me. Kingsport is so old, Diana. Gloriously old. I read that it was founded in the colonial days and miraculously, it's been kept up. Walking on certain streets is like stepping through a time machine!
Our freshman dormitory is right across the street from this breathtaking cemetery…and yes, I can practically see you rolling your eyes at me. Cemeteries are delightful—and spooky—Diana. Anyway, St. John's is sprawling. It's the biggest cemetery I've ever seen. And the history! Some of the headstones date back to the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century, Diana!
And—you'll never believe this—I've met someone who actually likes romping around the graveyards with me! No, not Gilbert, although he claims he's not averse to exploring the resting sites of ancients souls, but another freshman who lives on my floor. Her name is Philippa, Phil for short, and she could be the most featherbrained person I've ever met. But there's something about her, Diana—a spark of genius that shines from her eyes…she's a kindred spirit if ever I saw one. And, let me tell you, she's got every freshman boy eating out of the palm of her hands.
And, get this: Phil is from Bolingbroke. It's what Mrs. Lynde would call "positively providential, that's what." She's already promised to take me there someday so I can find my birthplace…and my parents. I probably won't be able to visit for quite some time now, but the thought of it is thrilling!
It is nice to begin to put down roots in Kingsport, Diana. At first I felt so lonesome and transplanted, even with Priscilla and Gilbert by side. And Charlie, too. I missed PEI, Marilla's plum puffs, Mrs. Lynde's gossip, and you, Diana. It's hard to move so far away without one's best friend by one's side.
But things have slowly begun to fall into place. I love my classes, and my professors—except math. Phil delights in it while I drown my sorrows in my textbook. And our professor is dreadful! I knew I should have checked ratemyprofessors beforehand, but I was too stubborn. He's a grumpy old sod who thinks women should stay in the kitchen. I'm determined to prove him wrong although math might be the death of me.
The freshman class is awesome, honestly, Diana. There's so many of us and yet, somehow, we are a family. Our spirit can't be rivaled, even by the seniors. Gilbert's become the de facto leader of the class of 2016, and I know that he'll run for class president and win in a landslide. Charlie sticks by his side, mostly, but he's not as universally loved by Gilbert. But can you blame anyone, really?
Gilbert's planning on rushing Lamba Theta, the top fraternity on campus. It's only been a week, but he's so integrated into Redmond student life that I doubt anyone can imagine college without him. I certainly couldn't. And I can see your face right now, Diana, and I want you to stop that! Gilbert is my friend. And a very good one, at that.
There's so, so, SO much more to tell you, Diana, but it's escaping me at the moment. I'll email you again as soon as I know what else to write, and don't forget to tell me all about Avonlea! Your emails will be the bright spot in my life at college, especially as midterms draw near.
Your faithful bosom friend,
Anne Shirley, Redmond freshman.
"Tell me," Philippa said one evening, as she and Anne and Priscilla poured over their textbooks in the Redmond library, "what do you think of my looks?"
The demand was said in such a serious tone that Anne's first reaction was to laugh. Phil sat before her, her eyes wide and inquisitive, with a pencil in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other. Drinks weren't technically allowed in the library, but Phil had managed to sneak hers past the librarian, much to the surprise of both Anne and Priscilla.
"You're very pretty, Phil," Priscilla reassured her, looking up from her Greek textbook. Anne nodded her head in agreement, and reached out to squeeze Phil's hand.
"We thought that you were the prettiest girl at Redmond when we first saw you," Anne said. "And you are."
Philippa blessed Anne and Priscilla with one of her dazzling, crooked smiles. "I thought so, too," she told them. It was such a surprising statement that Anne and Priscilla could do little else than blink at their companion. "I just wanted to hear it from someone else. Oh, I know, now you both think I'm really full of myself and you don't want to be friends with me anymore. It's just that as soon as I'm happy with my looks I find some flaw and I realize that I'm not really happy at all. My aunt is always telling me what a disappointment I am, because I used to be such a pretty baby. It's not a nice feeling to have someone constantly belittling your looks. And it's even worse with me because I can never make my mind up about anything. Do you want me to tell you guys that you're pretty? Because you are."
"Don't worry," Anne laughed, "Priscilla and I are both so confident in our own good looks that we don't need reassurance."
Phil sighed. "I'm so glad I met you guys. I was really nervous that I wouldn't make any friends in Kingsport. My parents insisted on funding a single dorm so I wouldn't be troubled by anybody else, but it gets really lonely, you know? I nearly changed my mind about coming here last week. I was ready to call my parents to take me home!"
"I'm glad you decided to stay," Priscilla told her. "Otherwise Anne and I would never get invited to any parties!"
It was true: in the short time that they'd been friends with Phil, the social world of Redmond had opened its arms up to Anne and Priscilla. They received invitations to the most sophisticated college parties, held by the elite societies. They'd even once been invited to a Lamba Theta party, although they declined the invitation. And to think that it was only the second week of school!
Anne asked, in a clear, ringing voice, "If you can't ever make up your mind, how on Earth did you decide to go to college in the first place?"
"Oh, I wanted to," Phil told her. "And my dad wanted me to, too. His heart was set on my going to college. Besides, I knew if I stayed, I would have to choose between Alec and Alonzo."
Anne looked at her. "Alec and Alonzo?"
"They're these two boys from home who are in love with me," Phil stated plainly, as though she was talking about the weather or a math problem. "I'm not in love with either of them, and that makes choosing between them even harder."
"If you don't love either of them, why do you need to choose?" Anne asked.
"I don't think I could love anybody. And Alec and Alonzo are as good as anybody. It's nice to be loved, isn't it? The only trouble is that I don't know who I like more. One minute I make up my mind that I like Alec more, and then the next I decide that I like Alonzo more. I think I'll forget about them soon enough, though. I want to have a string of boys here!"
"You sound a lot like our friend Ruby," Anne observed, "although I think I like you better."
Phil smiled triumphantly. "Thank you. Now, you guys, have you seen any cute boys?"
Priscilla laughed. "I haven't really thought about it!"
"I'm always thinking about it," Phil said. "I've seen a number of cute guys, but only one has really jumped out at me. He's in my math class, and his name is Gilbert. He seems really nice, too. I dropped my pencil and he picked it up. But I don't think he'll give me the time of day—he hasn't even looked twice at me! I'm not really used to that."
Anne immediately froze in her seat, and her smile fell. Both Priscilla and Phil noticed; the latter hadn't a clue of what she said wrong.
"I think I should get going," Anne said, closing her textbook quickly. "I've got a morning class tomorrow and it's getting late."
"Oh, God," Phil moaned, covering her face with her hands, "I've done it. I've scared you off with my personality. My mother is always telling me that I need to stop talking so much. You guys probably think I'm awful, which is horrible because I really like both of you."
Anne softened at her incoherent babbling—so used to hearing it coming from her own mouth—and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Don't worry, Phil," she said, "I think your personality is fun. I'll see you tomorrow."
annewithanE: It's just not FUN being friends with Gilbert.
annewithanE: I mean, he's in my English class and we barely even compete. Where am I going to get the motivation to lead the freshman class?
princessdiana: Somehow, Anne, I think you'll find it. How many hours have you spent in the library already this semester?
annewithanE: I may or may not be in the library right now.
princessdiana: Anne Shirley! Stop messaging me right now and start studying!
annewithanE: Ah, there's my motivation.
When Phil arrived at the entrance of Anne and Priscilla's small dorm room, she was nearly out of breath. Her chest heaved, causing her expensive jewelry to move up and down with her body, and her glossy hair was uncharacteristically windblown and out of place.
"You guys can't miss it," she told them after she had caught her breath. Quickly, she strode over to the desk where Anne was busy composing a letter to her adoptive brother, Davy, who was sorely missing her presence at home. "You've got to come to the quad. Lamba Theta is making Gilbert walk around town dressed up as a girl!"
"I don't really see what's so demeaning about dressing up as a woman," Anne said, her fingers gliding over the keyboard of her old laptop.
Phil rolled her eyes and spun Anne around in her chair. "It's not that, Anne," she said, pulling Anne up from her seat by her arms. "They've dressed him up as a girl from the nineteenth century. He's got a bonnet and an apron—he's even wearing a corset!"
Priscilla threw her head back and laughed before standing up to join Phil. "Now this I have to see," she said. Anne shook her head at her enthusiasm, but didn't fight as Phil guided her down the hallway.
It was noon as they walked through the quad, joining the ranks of the other college students that had turned out to see Gilbert's initiation into the notoriously tough Lamba Theta fraternity. He was the only freshman that had had the confidence to rush the storied club, and even though the Lambs, as they called themselves, usually turned away first-semester "freshies", they eagerly accepted Gilbert as one of their own. After he finished initiation to their liking, of course.
The sun beat down on Anne's back as she pushed her way through the crowd with her friends—although people seemed to part automatically as soon as they saw that Philippa Gordon was passing them. The sky was as blue as a robin's egg, dotted occasionally by a rogue cloud that seemed to smile down at Gilbert Blythe in his positively atrocious attired.
"Oh, my God," Anne said, her jaw dropping as she took in Gilbert. Beside her, Priscilla let out a low, long whistle. Phil just nodded her head enthusiastically, wordlessly agreeing with her companions.
On any other person, the outfit would have looked ridiculous. Horrendous, even. The Lambs had chosen what was quite possibly the ugliest dress and apron to come out of the 1890s. But Gilbert didn't look horrendous. He strode around campus confidently, his shoulders squared and his chest puffed out, as though he dressed in such a manner every day of his life. The cheers and whistles seemed to energize him, and whenever he passed a girl that he knew, he doffed his sunbonnet in such a showy and absurd manner that every girl giggled in delight.
"It's too bad he's not rich," Phil said longingly, "or I would have been all over that."
Priscilla's gaze shifted to Anne, wondering what her friend's reaction would be to such a statement. She was always oddly possessive and cold whenever Phil—or any other girl—talked about Gilbert in a romantic manner.
Anne's eyes narrowed momentarily, but she quickly calmed herself down. Phil didn't mean anything by it, and she didn't need to defend Gilbert to Phil—that was just a part of her personality. She didn't need to defend Gilbert to anybody. Her stiff reaction was just a result of her old Island camaraderie coming out and nothing more.
Gilbert noticed Anne and her friends at that moment, and his smile grew. He stood up straighter and managed to catch Anne's eye. She shook her head disapprovingly at the whole affair, but there was a small, playful smile toying at the corners of her lips that Gilbert did not miss. And as soon as she lifted her head and looked at him again, Gilbert winked at Anne.
Just like that, Anne—not Phil—became the most envied freshman girl at Redmond University.
annewithanE: Well, Gil's the newest member of Lamba Theta. It does wonders to his ego.
princessdiana: Anne, you and I both know that Gilbert could never be full of himself.
annewithanE: You should see the way the whole school fawns over him, Diana. It's sickening.
princessdiana: If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were almost jealous.
annewithanE: Thankfully you DO know better. And what would I be jealous of?
princessdiana: All the attention Gilbert is getting? All the attention Gilbert is giving to other people who aren't you?
annewithanE: Diana Barry, you have gone positively mad in my absence.
annewithanE: Lucky for you, I'll be in Avonlea the weekend after next to restore your sanity.
princessdiana: I can't wait.