A/N: Happy Valentine's Day!
The Education of Anne Shirley
From: Anne Shirley [annewithanE]
To: Diana Barry [princessdiana]
Subject: Arts Rush
Well, I've been at Redmond for a little over a month now and it's starting to feel like home. Not like Avonlea, of course (it couldn't truly feel like Avonlea unless you and Marilla and Davy and Dora and Mrs. Lynde were here), but I'm finally settling in. Our old misogynist of a math professor seems to be coming around to women, and I think it's Phil that's changed his mind, Diana! She's leading the class—she really has an unrivaled brain for math, unlike me. I'm always afraid that I'm annoying Phil with the amount of questions I ask her, but she doesn't seem to mind.
I really can't fathom how Phil finds the time to study. I'm always in the library (there's not much scope for the imagination among piles of textbooks, which I suppose is good and well because I can't let my imaginings distract me from schoolwork) but Phil is always out searching for fun—and she always finds it. She has a date practically every night, and half of the student population is drooling after her (trust me, Diana, on this I promise you I'm not exaggerating). She's a lot like Ruby, in that she loves to talk about her boyfriends and dates to Priscilla and me. Yet she's not like Ruby at all—she doesn't annoy me half as much when she discusses her boys, and even though she's quite as frivolous as Ruby and much, much more indecisive, I somehow think that Phil is completely sensible compared to Ruby. Perhaps it's because Ruby talks about boys in a gloating manner, and Phil talks about them because she really wants our opinions.
I really, really hope that you can come down to Kingsport sometime, Diana. I feel like I talk and talk about college and the people I've met here, yet you haven't even had the opportunity to meet them! I don't think you can truly understand the beauty of the city or the personalities of the people I've described to you until you've been here, although I'll certainly try to write lively depictions for you.
Anywho, every year, Redmond has this festival called the "Arts Rush." It's a contest that pits the freshman against the sophomores and the juniors against the seniors. Well, the sophomore's have won every Arts Rush against the freshman for nearly twenty years. We were told that they were positively, absolutely unbeatable. And, to save you the agony of suspense, let me just tell you the results now: we beat the sophomores! The freshman class of 2016 is victorious!
Of course, we wouldn't have won the Rush if it hadn't been for Gilbert. He stepped up and led us to victory, and now everyone here at Redmond idolizes him more than ever. Maybe it's because I grew up with him and (although somewhat unjustly) detested him for almost as long, but I really don't understand the hero-worshipping of Gilbert. He's just a boy, after all.
Well, you're probably wondering how exactly we won the Arts Rush when the sophomores have been victorious for long. I'm not exactly sure, because Gilbert did most of the work and I won't stoop so low as to ask him and sound like I didn't know all along what he was doing, but it sounded as though he went on some sort of top secret reconnaissance mission against the sophs. It would sound almost romantic, were it not for the fact that Gilbert led the mission.
So the freshman won, and as I predicted last month, Gilbert ran for class president and was elected to the position in a landslide. He offered the position of Treasurer to me, but I turned him down. I don't need a pity appointment!
Let me know how things are going in Avonlea! I will, of course, keep you updated on all of my affairs, even if they seem dreadfully dull and dreary to you.
Your faithful bosom friend,
From: Jane Andrews [janeandrews]
To: Anne Shirley [annewithanE]
Subject: Re: How are you?
Things are fine here in Avonlea, Anne. We actually had the first rain of autumn last week, which I'm sure you've already heard about from Mrs. Lynde. I thought that the grass in front of our house was going to die out early this year like it did last year, but the rain brightened it up. Billy got a second job working at Sobeys, and he seems to be enjoying it.
As for me, I've learned how to crochet. I know I sound like an old lady, but I crocheted three yards of lace the other day! How many eighteen-year-olds can say that! I think I'll pick up sewing next…it would be really cool to make my own clothes.
I do think the crocheting has a negative impact, because I've been getting really bad headaches lately. Marilla gets headaches from her eyesight, right? So maybe straining my eyes on crocheting is causing the headaches.
From: Ruby Gillis [rubyred]
To: Anne Shirley [annewithanE]
Subject: Miss you!
Everyone misses you so much in Avonlea. It's not the same without you or Gilbert or Charlie around. I really thought I could bear your absence when you left, but now that you've been gone for a while, I've realized that it's much easier said than done. Please tell me that you're visiting soon, Anne! Everyone misses you here, and I have so much to tell you. Some things just have to be said in person!
I'm sure you're having a fabulous time in Kingsport. I bet there are a ton of cute boys together. I've always wanted to go to school with intellectual boys. I think it'd be nice to have a boyfriend with glasses and brown hair and a little crease in his eyebrows from concentrating too much—doesn't that sound perfect? You'll have to keep me up to date on all of the cute boys you see. I want detailed descriptions, Anne!
As for me, I'm currently stuck in between two boys, Anne. Trust me, it's not as dreadful as it sounds. There's Ethan from Charlottetown, and he's absolutely delicious. Then there's Trevor, who's visiting his aunt in Avonlea. He's not as delicious, but he's so incredibly sweet. They don't know yet that I'm seeing both of them, but hopefully they won't mind. I think they're both too hung up on me to even care, really.
Don't forget to tell me all about your college boys!
P.S. Speaking of college boys, Gilbert seems to be doing great at Redmond. He sent me an email the other day saying that he'd been elected freshman class president! Charlie doesn't seem to be doing as well as Gilbert…but he's Charlie Sloane, after all.
So Gilbert was keeping touch with Ruby! Anne wasn't quite sure why it bothered her so much—she only knew that it did. Perhaps it was just in Gilbert's nature to stay in touch with everyone from Avonlea, and yet…Ruby had always had a little crush on Gilbert! All of the girls did, but with Ruby it seemed especially dangerous. Besides, Gilbert had never done anything to dissuade her of her feelings, and here he was emailing her and possibly texting her!
Anne exited out of Ruby's email without replying. Why did Ruby even care about Gilbert when she had a string of boys vying for her affections in Avonlea? And why would Gilbert care about someone like Ruby—someone so completely frivolous and shallow!
Only…what if Gilbert hadn't been in correspondence with Ruby? What if she had sent him an email and he harmlessly replied back to her as courtesy dictated? That seemed like something Gilbert would do. Perhaps it was the other way around, and Gilbert had indeed written Ruby first, but for the moment, Anne contented herself with the pleasant thought that Gilbert merely remained in touch out of politeness.
annewithanE: You are now officially talking to the top English student in Redmond's freshman class.
princessdiana: Congratulations, Anne! It's not very surprising, though. You ARE Anne Shirley, after all.
annewithanE: Enough about me, Diana. How are things in Avonlea?
princessdiana: Everything's fine here.
annewithanE: Fine?! Nothing of importance has happened at all?! I'm sure Mr. Harrison's parrot has escaped at least once and that Davy has caused some minor scandal. Give me SOMETHING, Diana.
princessdiana: I don't think so.
annewithanE: Okay. Well, Phil's just walked into my room, so I should go now. Talk to you later?
"Girls," announced Phil with flourish, "if I look at another textbook I think I'll die. Let's go do something fun."
"I think your definition of fun is a little different than ours," said Priscilla. Phil loved going out and meeting people, whereas Anne and Priscilla enjoyed meandering through campus on a nice day to get away from the trials of studying.
"Have you been studying?" asked Anne, raising her eyebrows at Priscilla. "I don't think I've seen you touch a textbook in at least a month."
"I have too!" protested Phil. "For instance, I just left the library. If I don't get a ninety-eight or higher on my next math exam, Professor Talbert will start ranting about women in college again. Oh, please, let's go out and do something. Anything. I'll go along with whatever you guys want to do."
It was hard to deny Phil anything when she sat atop one of their beds, her hands clasped before her chest as though in prayer, and those big, brown eyes gazing at Priscilla and Anne, begging them for activity in the same way that a Golden Retriever would beg for food.
"Well…" began Priscilla, glancing at Anne.
"I suppose we could go for a walk around campus," suggested Anne, standing up from her desk chair. "It's absolutely beautiful today, and the trees look like they've been painted a glorious orange."
"Right," said Phil, agreeing eagerly with Anne's prose.
And so they set off. Fall had arrived in full force, and although rain was predicted in the next few days, it felt like springtime outside. The sky was as blue as a robin's egg, and only a few shallow wisps of cloud could be spotted. Leaves were beginning their yearly descent to the ground, dotting the pavement with red and orange and brown. The trees at Redmond had wonderfully large leaves—twice the size of Anne's hand—and she made a mental note to pick up one for posterity on the way back to the dorms.
"I'm so glad you guys could go out today," Phil commented, reveling in the weather and in the company of her friends. "Football seasons starts soon, you know, and we won't have as much time to spend together on Saturdays."
"Why not?" asked Priscilla.
"Because," Phil told her, "Jimmy Peterson is the head captain of the football team, and he asked me to go to the games for him. Oh, that reminds me! Did you girls hear that Gilbert made the football team?"
Anne remained in a stubborn silence—of course Gilbert had already told her that he'd made the team, and how could Phil presume otherwise!—so Priscilla, noticing her strange demeanor, answered. "He and Charlie told us last night. It's not that big of a surprise, though."
"Of course it's not," agreed Phil, "but Jimmy says that Gilbert is a natural, and that he'll probably be named captain after Jimmy graduates. Isn't that exciting? You'll have to go to the football games, then, won't you Anne?"
Anne, indignant, replied, "And why should I?"
Phil looked at her slyly. "Because Gilbert will be the captain. Duh."
Anne harrumphed, but she knew that she would attend the football games despite her attitude. She certainly wouldn't go for Gilbert, though; she'd only attend to spend more time with Phil and Priscilla.
They happened upon Gilbert and Charlie outside of St. John's Hall, much to the delight of the former, who was immediately whisked away by Priscilla and Philippa, although their reasons for doing so were not quite altruistic. As a result of their actions, Anne and Gilbert were left walking behind the rest of them.
Anne did not mind, of course, because it allowed her to soak in the beauty of the nature surrounding her at a slower pace. Gilbert didn't care about being left behind because of who he was left behind with, and he began enjoying a beauty of a different sort.
"I love Phil and Priscilla," Anne said to him, her voice soft, as it always was when she was reveling in the elegance of nature, "but I would much rather enjoy the day in silence, like this. Isn't it beautiful how all of the trees are golden, like something out of a Thomas Cole painting? And how the pines stand out behind them, green and tall and majestic?"
"They definitely make a man feel small," agreed Gilbert.
"And make our problems feel so petty," said Anne thoughfully. "I think, if anything truly tragic were to happen to me, I'd seek refuge in a forest of pines."
"Nothing tragic will ever happen to you Anne," said Gilbert, and he turned to gaze upon his walking partner. The small exercise had flushed her cheeks, and although Anne would stoutly deny should he ever bring it up, Gilbert felt that the shade complimented her hair very well. She looked positively blissful, and Gilbert knew that marring Anne's happiness would only worsen any sorrowful event. "I wouldn't let it."
Anne turned away from Gilbert then, biting her lip. Her moment of bliss had vanished, and Gilbert, realizing his foolish mistake, tried to amend for it. "Have you spoken to Diana recently, Anne?"
Anne looked toward to the ground, watching her footfalls, and said, "Mm-hmm. I talked to her earlier today, but I had to cut our conversation short when Phil came in. Why?"
"Ruby mentioned that Diana had gone on a few dates with Fred, that's all," said Gilbert. "I was just wondering if it was serious or not."
Anne stopped walking. Diana…went on a date? "Fred?" she asked. "Fred Wright?"
"How many other Freds do we know?" Gilbert pointed out. "Ruby said that she hardly sees Diana without Fred by her side now."
Anne stiffened, and her earlier anger towards Ruby surged through her once again. Where did Ruby get off discussing such things with Gilbert? "Well, Ruby Gillis is mistaken. Diana is most certainly not dating Fred Wright."
Gilbert nodded, placing his hands in the pockets of his pants. "Would it be so bad if she were dating him?"
Anne was silent for a moment. "No…I don't think so. It's just that he's Fred Wright. Roly Poly Fred! Diana could do so much better. He's so…boring."
"Well, maybe Fred is exactly the kind of guy that she wants," reasoned Gilbert.
"Even if they were dating—which they aren't—Fred isn't Diana's type. She wants someone who's tall, dark, and handsome. A mysterious man; someone who could be wicked, but chose not to. We decided this when we were twelve."
"Men like that don't exist, Anne. And even if they did, what someone wants can change a lot in eight years."
But Anne remained obstinately firm. "Diana wouldn't…not without telling me first."
"All right," was all Gilbert said. But it wasn't right at all, and the beautiful day was suddenly worsened for Anne. Diana wouldn't have gone out on a date with anyone without consulting her bosom friend first, even when said bosom friend was away at college, and she certainly wouldn't date someone as boring and normal as Fred Wright.
annewithanE: DIANA BARRY!
annewithanE: Don't you ignore me, Diana! I know you're online! And I know all about you and FRED WRIGHT!
princessdiana: Relax, Anne.
annewithanE: How can I relax when my best friend got a BOYFRIEND and didn't even tell me?!
princessdiana: He's not really my boyfriend, Anne. I mean, we've gone on, like, three dates to the Island Café.
annewithanE: Diana Barry, I can't believe you didn't tell me.
annewithanE: I had to find out from GILBERT, of all people.
princessdiana: You and Gilbert have gotten close at Redmond, I see.
annewithanE: Don't try and change the subject, Diana! This isn't about me, it's about you. Besides, Gil's just a friend.