Gilbert Blythe never thought he could hate a word.
It wasn't big or complex, built with a dozen of letters, letters he would most certainly confuse if he tried to spell it during another of their lengthy class contests. It was a small word, a positive word, a word that should and did bring joy and peace to people who heard it, a word that every person on this earth would like to be associated to.
It was a good word.
...a lucky word.
And he hated it almost passionately.
It wasn't like he had always hated it. Not when he first heard it, nor when he heard it repeated many times after. At first, it was all a little teasing, a bit envious maybe. It were the boys at school, his classmates, joking around on how lucky Gilbert was, smart and pretty as they used to call him; always first in his class, always followed with the eyes of the girls. Ruby Gillis, Diana Barry, it didn't even matter if the comments held any truth – Gilbert was popular for more reasons than he could count, and even though he never seemed to care much about it, it didn't stop his friends to fool around it.
Yes, he was lucky.
Then he heard it again, right about the time when his father got worse and they made that brave, yet necessary decision to go back West in hopes that it would somehow help Mr Blythe to get well again. Truth was, he'd never told his friends about the real reason of the trip, or at least, he hadn't explain it properly to them. There was no need for the boys of Avonlea to know about how sick his father really was – no need whatsoever. So they all nodded carelessly, wishing the older man to get better, as if it was nothing but a cold, while simultaneously congratulating his son on the great opportunity he had got, to see big cities and all that nonsense. They didn't know the truth, and that made them jealous – because of the one thing they thought was the case.
Gilbert Blythe was lucky.
It made him want to scream at times, but he held his head high nevertheless, letting them believe in what obviously wasn't true. He couldn't blame them for those words, as he well knew that had the role been reversed, he'd probably have felt the same.
So he went, and he forgot, and when they came back no one dared to say the words again, too well aware of the real state of John Blythe's health. And it was fine, it really was fine until his father did die after all, but even then, sorrowful and heartbroken, Gilbert still dared to believe that he could somehow survive the blow that had come, the blow he couldn't even say he had not expected. And then, right then, in the middle of his grief, when he felt too weak to walk into his own house, Anne Shirley-Cuthbert, the girl he'd been trying to befriend ever since they'd first met in that cold autumn forest, the girl who'd repeatedly rejected his offers and pleas, that girl decided to follow him and say the most ridiculous thing he could ever imagine being said on an occasion like this.
In a way, you're lucky.
He remembered his shock, his utmost bewilderment when he had realised what she had just said. In fact, he wasn't even sure he'd heard correctly, with all the sadness ringing in his soul like some heavy gothic bells Anne herself had certainly put in more than one story so far. How could he be? How could he believe that she had really said what he thought she had? He knew tact wasn't her strong suit but that was bad even for her firy-tempered self. So he just stared, unable to comprehend her words, and then did the only thing he thought was to be done – he snapped like a wounded dog, pushing her away and leaving, wanting nothing more than to flee as far as he could, away from the grief, away from compassion, and most of all, away from stupid comments of a girl he thought was smarter than this.
If he could ever bring himself to hate Anne Shirley, he would have hated her then.
Of course, it didn't take him long to understand where her words had come from or to agree with her than yes, compared to her, to everything she'd been through during her short, yet horrid life, he was lucky. No matter how much he suffered, he had the memories of years of a different life, difficult but happy, challenging, yet meaningful. Memories Anne Shirley-Cuthbert had never dreamed she could have.
Now the word was there again, resonating in the hot air of the barn, stinging him, vexing him, putting him on the verge once more. It wasn't Anne who said it this time, but it was just as painful and ironic as if she'd said it herself.
"You're lucky to be her friend."
That Jerry lad really had a nerve.
Bent over the hay, Jerry froze for a second, only to straighten up a moment later and give his accidental companion a tired, derisive look.
"And you're a fool, Gilbert Blythe."
The other boy gritted his teeth, doing his best to reign the foolish emotions that were once again taking over his sorry, pathetic self. He shifted his gaze on Jerry and, once again trying to seem calmer than he truly was, he sent him a lopsided – and very cynical – smile.
"I assume you have good grounds to offend me like that," he bickered, turning around and fixing his gaze on some random rays of light, hoping against hope that it would make him look at least a little less agitated. It was nonsense – he knew Jerry wouldn't buy any of that.
"You can use as many fancy words as you want, Mr I-am-going-to-be-a-doctor, but it won't change the fact that you are dumb. To be friends with 'er, best friends with 'er and still sniff at it? It's just stupid."
"I don't sniff at anything, Jerry," Gilbert answered, annoyed, and turned back towards his interlocutor. "But it's not as peachy as you think it is."
"I don't – it's none of your business."
"Sure it's not. But I'm pissed seeing you whine about how 'ard it is for you, when you already have more than the rest of the world could wish for."
Gilbert's look became questioning. Jerry sighed and got back to work, letting the silence wash over them for a few long seconds, as if he was wondering as what to say next – even though Gilbert was more than sure the boy had had his answer prepared before he himself had even entered the barn this morning.
It was his turn to sigh. "Come on, Jerry. Out with it."
His assumed advisor shook his head at him most piteously, but answered nevertheless, "Look, you're not the only one that cares about 'er. But I'm just a stable lad, a boy 'ired when she turned out not to be a boy 'erself. I'm a friend of 'ers at best. You're the friend. If that's too little for you, you're thicker than I thought."
And with that he straightened up again, threw the fork over his shoulder and without another word, turned on his heel towards the door, leaving Gilbert a little less angry, a little more desperate, and certainly much more confused than he thought he could be after such a short, seemingly careless talk. He wanted to respond, dare Jerry to come back and to throw the truth at him, to rub it into his face so the darn kid would understand that what he felt could not be answered by any kind of friendship Anne could ever offer him, no matter how much he tried to make himself believe that their friendship was exactly what he desired. He wanted Jerry to know that yes, he was a fool, but for reasons opposite to what the other boy assumed – that his problem was not about not appreciating Anne, but about appreciating her too much, in every single aspect, from her never-ending speeches, to her long red hair, to her many, many freckles, to her shining, clever eyes, to her most astonishing mind.
He wanted to call Jerry a fool for not understanding a matter so clear.
Yet, he did not. Because just like all these years ago, despite his shock and disbelief, he knew the words he'd heard were true.
That in a way he was, indeed, lucky.
Author's note: Hello Kindred Spirits! You've just read my very first, very new Anne of Green Gables / Anne with an E story. I'm surprised how very much into the series I am, and as usual, that resulted in quite a lot of ideas, on of which I hereby - humbly - presented.
Now is there more? Yes.
Is there going to be more than more? That depends on my time, self-control - and most of all, your willingness to read them.
God bless you all!