Jerry stomped his feet just outside the barn, attempting to get rid of the mud that was caked on the bottom of his boots. Miss Cuthbert would have his head if he tracked it everywhere-worse if he went inside the house.
He took off his coat, feeling a bit warm. What started out as a dreary, chilly morning ended up with the sun coming out which warmed it up outside. He was thankful, but also sweaty. He'd been tending back and forth between cleaning the stable, feeding the animals and helping Mr. Cuthbert plant his vegetables upon Miss Cuthbert's suggestion, despite Mr. Cuthbert's insistence that he was alrigt by himself.
Biting back a yawn, he looked around for his pitchfork. The day was almost over, Mr. Cuthbert complimented him on how hard he was working lately, as he had been arriving earlier while still staying until his regular time. He was told to take some rest and permitted to leave earlier if he so chose to. Jerry was immensely grateful for the Cuthbert's kindness.
Where did I leave it?" He frowned, glancing around.
Jerry climbed up the ladder, not when did he reach the top did he hear sniffling. It sounded muffled and feminine.
She was face down in the hay, curled up and sobbing. There was a tug on his heart, but he also knew that she was prone to unpredictable emotional outbursts,so it was best not to approach her right away. He'd learned the hard way and was not going to make that mistake again.
He could alert the Cuthberts and they could comfort her. They were better at dealing with it anyway-
Anne's anguish cries were choked now, mixing with few coughs and hiccups. He bit his bottom lip. If Anne was anything like his sisters, she just needed a distraction to feel better. If he calmed her down enough, she might forget about whatever it was that troubled her.
"Anne?" Forgetting about his pitchfork, kept his voice down so he didn't startle her and sat down beside her. "Are you okay?"
Anne's head emerged. Hay was stuck in her hair and there was one piece on her cheek. Her eyes were red and puffy and a trail of snot and tears fell down her face. "Do I look okay?" she asked harshly. He didn't take it personally, knowing how emotional she could be.
"What's wrong?" he sat criss-cross. "Did someone upset you?"
Anne laughed humorlessly. "Upset? My heart has shattered and it will never be whole again. My will to live is gone!" She threw herself back into the hay. "I'm never coming down! Never! I shall stay up here and die!"
"You don't mean that," Jerry said as he rubbed her back up and down. That was what he did for his sisters. He could only hope she didn't spring back up and slap him for it. "What about Queens? And Diana? And Gilbert?"
Anne flew back up, her face filled with rage. Jerry, caught off guard, leaned back in alarm. "Don't say his name!" She shrieked.
"Why?" Jerry asked confusedly. "Is something wrong? Did he hurt you?"
Anne swallowed thickly. "Only my heart that will never be repaired. I will live a long, miserable life while Gilbert marries her!"
Jerry wasn't quite certain who Anne was referring to, but something else did dawn upon him. "You're upset that Gilbert is marrying another girl?" When she didn't answer, he added, somewhat slyly, "I didn't know you liked Gilbert. of course I suppose it isn't so much of a shock after you talked about him so much."
Anne sniffled. "I did no such thing."
"You did so," Jerry insisted, not to be doubted. "I heard you talking to Diana," she glared at him and opened her mouth-probably to lecture him for eavesdropping on a very important conversation- but he quickly said, "You talk very loud. I'm sure Mr. and Miss Cuthbert heard you."
Jerry sighed. Normally, if she was one of his sisters, she would've been better by now. Although, after being around her for so long, he was smart enough to recognize that she was nowhere near okay.
"Go away," she muttered.
"GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE!" she screamed.
Jerry grabbed her face and forced her to look him in the eye; she struggled against his grip but he held firm. "Anne, please, I'm not going to mock you. I just want to talk."
"Well, I don't," Anne said stubbornly.
"Alright." She relaxed a little as he let go. "Then "I'm going to wait until you're ready to talk."
Anne groaned. "Jerry, Matthew must have more work for you to do. I'm sure your family is waiting for you."
"Most likely," he agreed. "But they'll understand."
"Jerry," she said tiredly. "Please leave. I'm fine."
"If you were fine, you wouldn't be crying," he said softly. "Please, Anne, I hate to see you so upset." He was being honest and not all just saying it to placate her; her melancholy was affecting him. He always pretended to be exasperated by her overactive imagination and tendency to get lost in her daydreams-he regarded her as a nuisance (once he found out what the word meant). Although, she was his nuisance and if need be, he might just have to take a trip to Gilbert's house, with the pitchfork.
However, he didn't intend on leaving until he was sure she was alright; so far, she still seemed to be on the verge of tears. Should he just go fetch Miss Cuthbert so she could take over and handle this? He glanced back over at the ladder. While more experienced than he, she might be somewhat insensitive to the situation and insist that Anne cease crying at once. That wasn't what she needed right now.
So, he stayed.
Anne's hair was becoming loose from her braids; a few pieces stuck to her face but she either ignored or didn't notice it. Jerry reached out to tuck them behind her ears; she flinched at the unexpected touch.
"I'm very sorry," Jerry told her, taking her hand into his and squeezing it.
"For what?" she used her free hand to wipe her nose in a way that Miss Cuthbert would've scolded her for.
"For Gilbert." Her face darkened at the mention of him. "You must be heartbroken."
Anne's jaw trembled. "I don't know what I was thinking."
"Why do you say that?"
"Gilbert would never set his eyes on someone like me!" Anne whimpered as fresh wave of tears came. "I'm just what Mrs. Lynde said-all elbows and knees. I'm much too skinny and my freckles..." Jerry watched her, concerned.
"'Mrs. Lynde doesn't think that way of you anymore."
"And what of it?" Anne retorted, shaking away his hand. "I'm ugly, Jerry. I'm ugly and I shall never find someone to love me. I am to be alone like Marilla."
"Just because Gilbert doesn't love you, doesn't mean someone else won't," Jerry argued.
"It means exactly that!"
Anne pulled her legs to her chest. "I am not worthy of love," she whispered but it was loud enough for Jerry to hear. "That is why Gilbert is marrying Winnifred and not me."
"He's a fool," Jerry declared.
"No, he isn't." It was difficult to hear Anne talk so self-deprecatingly. "Winnifred will make a beautiful bride. Her parents be so proud of her to be marrying a future doctor."
Jerry scooted closer, wrapping his arms around her and puling her into a tight embrace. Anne buried her face into his chest, sobbing. "There, there," he murmured. "It is alright."
"I-I didn't know h-he was courting h-her."
Jerry let her ramble and didn't interrupt.
"I'm so stupid! What am I to do, Jerry? How will I face him on our last day? I'm going to cry the moment I see him."
"No, you won't," Jerry reassured her. "You're going to be strong because I know you are, no matter what happens. You will get over this, Anne. Just give it time."
Anne was quiet, but only briefly. "Are you doing the same for Diana?"
Jerry closed his eyes. He'd been doing his best to forget about Diana Barry and their forbidden, one-sided romance. Those nights of him falling asleep to the secret plan of saving up enough money to whisk her away from the life she was destined with were dashed. Now he was burdened with the memories of could have been.
"Yes," he said at last.
Anne gripped Jerry's forearms. "I want to hate him," she said, sounding exhausted. "I want to forget him. But I can't. I can't, Jerry. I'm happy that he's going to be happy but I want him to be happy with me. I'll never be happy, not unless God will bring him to me. I'll always wonder, wonder what could be if he had confessed to having affections for me."
Jerry didn't have anything to say after that, let alone any wisdom that she could have taken. Anne's love for Gilbert was fierce, yet she was still placing his happiness above her own.
"It's going to be okay," but he wasn't so convinced himself. 'We'll get through this together."
"Together?" she lifted her head up. "Oh, no, Jerry-you don't...This is my problem, not yours."
"This is our problem," he corrected. "I want to help you through this."
"Oh, Jerry," Anne gave him a watery smile before throwing her arms around his neck. "You're a true kindred spirit. If my parents had a boy, I'd want him to be like you."
Jerry blushed, muttering his thanks in French.
They sat up there for a few more minutes, lost in their own thoughts. Neither let go of the other. Surely Miss Cuthbert would be scandalized if she stumbled upon them, they didn't care too much of the possibilities.
"We should go," Jerry eventually. "Or we can stay and I'll bring up my slate and pencil."
It was actually Anne's that she gave to him while she bought another one for herself to use.
Anne sniffled again. "I don't think I am in the mood to teach today, perhaps tomorrow."
"It isn't for me," Jerry said. "It's for you." She looked surprised. "Your test for Queens is soon, yes? I want to help you study. You're going to have the highest mark."
Anne's laughter was enough to let him know that she may still be hurting, but she was going to heal.
And that was all that mattered.