CHAPTER XX

April 12th, Glenaeon Street

I've finally been let go. Though I know what it will cost me I can't say but I'm relieved. These last months I have felt like a length of willow in another man's hands, bending to impulses I have no control of. I know now I am not made to take another's man's orders. I must make my own way in the world. If I am to become a doctor – and I mean to – I won't be forging a career in a hospital. It must be my own practice or nothing.

I could do good work, I know I could. Living in this quarter of Kingsport has opened my eyes to a kind of poverty that keeps the good women of the Ladies Aid rightfully zealous. Mother was skeptical about my taking a room at Glenaeon Street. A boarding house run by a man! Is the food wholesome, are your sheets laundered, are you warm enough, Gilbert? Needless to say, I don't let her know how warm I am. I can't remember the last time I shut my window, which is a piece of luck considering. The frame is so eaten away with woodworm the glass sits inside it through sheer force of will.

I would come home from the midnight shift and wonder who would give way first, that window or myself. It's a small sort of victory to be fired rather than having to quit. But that MacDonald made work at the Express a misery. Whenever I saw his silhouette inside the manager's office I knew fresh trouble was about to be visited upon me. The lines would jam, the ink would run out, the typeface would be rearranged – he was pitifully unimaginative there. What fun I could have had with yesterday's headline:

Lovely Lucy to live in sin!

How it cried out to be: Coy soul inventively ill!

The poor woman in the story only wanted to annul her marriage to a criminal and marry another. She said her broken heart had almost killed her. I once thought such sentiment the stuff of fairytales – or kind of stories Anne writes. Now I wonder.

I wonder.

I wonder.

I am so weary of wondering. Which makes me the last man to understand Anne. But I want to. Lord help me, I want to. I want every piece of her. The infinite mystery, the endless combinations. Every day she is new to me and every day I don't see her is another Anne I will never know.

Heavenly lone iris

Confound it. I won't let a thug like MacDonald decide my fate, there has to be another way to pay for school next year. I won't lose her now.

Later...

Promising, but not certain. The manager of the Daily News was confident there would be a full-time place for me this summer though he could not confirm it until after Convocation. By a stroke of Providence, it wasn't my skills in the printing room that impressed him so much as my ability to stick it out at the Express. There is no love lost between those two papers, and while there is not much to separate them in terms of content I can at least depend upon an absence of weasels.

...

April 14th, Patty's Place ~ preening prettily for the Redmond Reception

My gown is complete, and Ady it's a dream! I never envisaged such a glorious transformation. Rather I suspected that Phil-of-a-Phil would cut the neckline even lower! What she has managed to do with it. If she ever tires of mathematics she could make a very good living as a seamstress ~ although my idea of good living and her idea of good living... Well, I suppose I shall see first-hand what her aspirations are built upon. Next week I shall be at Mount Holly, and utterly determined to give those Bluenoses a lesson in Island style.

Thank goodness I didn't give into viciousness and have the gown taken apart. Gorgeous green silk, it wasn't your fault that you didn't fit in Avonlea. Like myself, all you needed was some good old fashioned improving upon. Now the gown doesn't insist itself so much as whisper in your ear. Phil has made the loveliest shift of ivory chiffon to wear over it. I was glad she persuaded me to have the sleeves removed, the sheer fabric over my arms makes the dress both fresh and delicate. I feel like a fairy ~ even better, a bloom. A lone iris, born aloft in tall greenness and bursting forth in pale, filmy petals. Quite the thing for a student who came top of English and has been invited to write for the Rave by Dr Kent. And quite the thing for the last Redmond reception of this rather miraculous year.

All I need now is someone to tell me if my ends are all tucked in ~ and a way to get through this evening so that the only thing that burns into me is candle-light.

April 15th, Glenaeon St

She was... she was... she was...

There I was thinking how glad I am to have kept up the habit of writing if only because it gave me a place to linger awhile on Anne. Now I'm here looking at my journal knowing there is nothing, no word, that ever could convey her loveliness.

I recognised the dress immediately as the one she wore to a party one winter in Avonlea. The one where I drank too much cider, and suffered a sore head and a sorer pride for days after. This time I stayed clear of the refreshment table, but as always, I couldn't stay clear of Anne. She was... she is...

Writing won't do. Apologies, Blythe, when you come to this page in the hope of another glimpse of her but I cannot keep control of my pen.

...

April 15th, Patty's Place ~ too tired to find a light, I write by a sliver of moon...

...and Gilbert looked as usual handsome self. You will laugh, Ady, but there was a moment when he was dancing with Vivienne Moore that I did not recognise him. Gilbert. Who is one of my oldest chums in the world. There was something different about him tonight, as though he held a secret to himself, instead of just legions of adoring co-eds. I found myself wondering who he was, when before I could define him by the tiniest of details ~ to the colours in his eyes. Do you know what they remind me of? The leaves of a tree gone from green to gold to brown. What I like the least is when they go black, when I feel as though he would devour me. All he said was how lovely my dress looked, nothing that a dozen others hadn't said. Yet I felt as though I stood in the room wearing nothing at all.

I'm just tired. I know I promised to write of the midnight ramble I took with my history chums ~ and Millicent Johns falling into the fountain ~ but I can't keep hold of my pen.

...

April 17th, Glenaeon Street

I have it! I have been offered that job with the Daily News. Not as a printer, but a field reporter. The thought of being out in the world instead of confined to the basement makes the loss of an Avonlea summer somewhat easier to bear. Tomorrow I am to view a new room, one that Charlie wants to sublet so as not to lose it next year. Apparently, there is a snub nosed co-ed who resides in the house next door.

I feel like I can breathe again, not only because I have secured my future at Redmond, but also a future with Anne. There is still enough light left for one last ramble. And if my luck continues, as I somehow believe it will, I might find a spray of Mayflowers on the way.

April 17th, Patty's Place

I had no choice. He gave me no choice.

We could have gone on pretending. I am good at it, or used to be. Constructing new worlds.

But I don't know how to build this one. I don't even want to.

Will I ever forget the look on his face?

There is no word, nothing, to express my desolation.

...

April 18th, Glenaeon Street

Agreed to room. The fourth floor, which means I will likely have it to myself. It is two dollars more a month, but I can walk to work. I can walk.

Must write to Father. Tell him I have the job. And to sell Domino, he will never to take to a plough. Then we can hire the Buotes for harvest.

Must write to Father. I mean Fred. And sleep.

Blythe, do this. One word after the other.

...

April 19th, Patty's Place

If I can't build a new world let me at least stretch time. Let that second when I first wake last throughout the day so that I never have to remember what has happened. I keep expecting him to appear, for a letter to arrive. For something, anything but this.

How can you want this, Gilbert? How can you walk away?

Don't you care for me at all?

How could you say that to me? When our friendship has been one of the truest joys of my life. Please, I just want it back.

...

April 21st, Mayberry Road

Kingsport is emptying for the summer and I am relieved. Tomorrow she goes to Bolingbroke and I never have to think of her. Perhaps then I can sleep. It's the streetcars. The sound of them echoes off the houses as they run up and down the road. I just need to get used to this. Then I can sleep.

...

April 22nd, Patty's Place

He never wrote me and he never came. I heard he took up a new place on Mayberry Road, but I don't know where. I can't get used to this world where Gilbert is a stranger to me. I used to know everything about him and suddenly I know nothing. I keep hearing the girls laugh and thinking he is here.

It seems impossible that he meant it, that when he said goodbye he never wanted to see me again. I want to shake him, I want to crack something else over his head. He doesn't really love me. He can't. If he did he would never have done this. I cannot comprehend his ridiculous pride.

Your friendship can't satisfy me, Anne.

Perhaps we were never friends. I keep looking back on everything we've done together through the ugly, disfiguring light of that moment. I saw that look in his eyes and I knew what he was about to say.

Don't, I begged him, please don't.

But you can't tell Gilbert Blythe.

I wish I had never gone out to the orchard. I wish he'd never come. I wish we could go back to how we were.

I am living in yesterday. He put me there. And I can't forgive him.

...

April 23rd, Mayberry Road

She's gone. Into the bosom of Bluenoses and their rarefied delights. Maybe now I can sleep. I haven't closed my eyes for more than two hours together since that other life I lived. I ache to return to the printing room to do work that requires nothing more than pulling levers, or better yet, nothing less than my absolute concentration. Instead I spend most of my time outside courts, halls, wharves, waiting for someone to talk to me when my head is already crammed with words. If I write them out now it's because I can't endure being taunted by them for another second. I never want to read it, only purge it from my heart.

You won't believe me, Anne, but I never intended to propose. It was the moment you told me you were going to Bolingbroke instead of going home that I began to be afraid. The fear took me over like a fever, all I could think of was what I would lose, not what I could give you. I couldn't let you go until you promised to me mine. I'm so angry with myself. And with you. Because you know, Anne, you know, and you want me to go on pretending. But I'm not a prince in your story.

If I had my chance again I would offer you my dreams. Instead I begged.

Things can't go on. Give me some hope. Is there anybody else. Promise me.

Every day my words lacerate me, and every night your words are like salt on my skin.

I can never love you. Never speak of this again.

What should I say to you? What sort of man should I be?

I don't know how to wake in the morning and not think of you. I don't know how to sleep without seeing you each night. I don't know who to strive for, who to prove myself to. I don't know how to live in our world without you, Anne.

...

THE END

See you in Third Year! Love, kwak