Over the years I have written several short stories using LMM's characters and stumbling upon them last night I decided to bunch them all together and publish them (though some readers may be familiar with one or the other already).
Mostly these centre on the Blythe children as well as the Fords and Meredith and are alternatively set slightly before, during or (mostly) after the war. It is really a bit of a potpourri, with different central characters and different pairings and happy and sad stories alike. There are even some what-if-stories, though they stay true to the world LMM has created (no wizards, pirates or vampires included!).
Possibly you have noticed by now that English is not my first language. Most of these stories have never been proof-read by anyone but myself, so it is entirely probable that you will stumble upon the odd mistake (I am especially struggling with commas – where and when to put one – because none of my teachers ever thought to properly teach me the rules!). If you do find mistakes, feel free to point them out, but please be gentle. I try my best.
That said, I hope you enjoy my stories and if you do, reviews would be greatly appreciated.
Regarding this first story: I wrote this when I was about fourteen or fifteen and it shows, especially when it comes to the wording of it. But I do not believe in "beautifying" an existing story years after it was written (save for correcting obvious mistakes), so it is published mostly in its original form. So, if you struggle a little with this story, bear with me and read on. The others will be a little more polished.
The newest news
Faith Meredith got off the train and squinted. Before she could orientate herself someone shouted her name, "Faith! Faith! Here! We are here!"
Jerry Meredith, who heaved their two suitcases out of the train, grinned at his sister, "I guess you're wanted, Faith."
"Looks like it," Faith laughed and kissed his cheek briefly.
"See you then, sister o' mine", Jerry grinned again, waved at her and disappeared into the crowd.
"Bye," Faith shouted after him without knowing if he had heard. Shaking her head she took her suitcase and went over to her two friends and fellow occupants, who waited near the exit.
"How was it? And how is your family? Fine, I hope. And you? Did you enjoy your holidays? And how was the birthday-celebration? You have to tell me EVERYTHING!" Louise Bell spoke at an unbelievable speed as soon as Faith was within earshot.
"How about letting her arrive first, Lou?," Elisabeth 'Lizzie' Harding obviously tried to calm Lou down.
"Yes, the voyage was just fine and I am as well, Lou," Faith assured with a smile as she reached them, "Hello, Lizzie."
"Hello," Lizzie smiled back and tried to say something else, but Lou interrupted her. Faith and Lizzie shared a meaningful look. Lou was a dear, but sometimes she could be really unnerving.
"You tell us about your weekend and afterwards we tell you the newest news from Redmond," Lou suggested and the way her eyes gleamed told Faith more than clearly, that she definitely shouldn't miss this 'newest news'.
"All right," she agreed and gave her suitcase to the driver, who'd bring them to their boarding home. During the drive she told the others everything about her short trip home.
Her stepmother Rosemary had celebrated her fortieth birthday and John Meredith had decided to gather the whole family, so that "Una and Bruce see their siblings again" and therefore both Faith and Jerry came from Kingsport and Carl from Queen's College to the Glen for a weekend.
It had been a nice celebration and Faith had enjoyed it immensely, in spite of all the stress before and afterwards. She had been especially pleased about the presence of the Blythes.
Nan and Di, otherwise known as 'the Twins', had come from their respective schools, where they taught, Shirley and Rilla were home anyhow and even Walter had been fine enough after a typhus-disease to participate in the celebration. But Faith – and not only she – had really missed the eldest, Jem Blythe, who was in his last year at Redmond and for the past month only had had his exams on his mind.
At least that was what Faith thought to be the cause, why he'd disassociated himself from her. If he wanted it that way, he'd get it that way. Faith was more than prepared to play the same game against Jem.
"All right, now you know everything and can tell me your 'newest news'. I know that you almost can't bear to hold it in," Faith grinned and looked at Lou attentively.
Neither of them noticed the look on Lizzie's face. She knew that this 'newest news' would wipe the smile out of Faith's face very quickly.
"Let's go upstairs first," Lou suggested and on the stairs passed Margaret Davis, another fellow occupant of them, who was a sophomore, like Faith's brother Jerry.
"Hello Faith. Did you enjoy your vacation?" she asked pleasantly. Faith smiled, "Hello Margaret. Yes, it was just fine, thank you." Margaret returned her smile, Faith nodded politely and both went their ways. It was not that Margaret didn't like the three freshmen or vice versa, but they simply weren't close.
"So?" asked Faith a bit impatiently, once they were upstairs in her and Lizzie's room. Even if she would have rather died than admitting it, she now was really curious about Lou's 'newest news'.
Lou grinned and hesitated for a few seconds, as if to increase the suspense, before bursting out, "Jem Blythe is engaged to Suzette King. As good as, at least."
What followed was silence, until Lizzie cautiously asked, "Faith?"
Faith blinked and slowly repeated, "Jem... engaged... to Suzette King?"
"Well, as good as," Lou seemed oblivious to Faith's strange behaviour, "It's said that he wants to pop the question in the next days."
"I'm happy for him," Faith forced a smile on her face, "Really, I'm happy." But she didn't even believe herself.
"Faith? You all right?" Lizzie asked softly, when they lay in bed that evening. Faith pretended to sleep. It was well-meant, but she didn't really want to discuss Jem's engagement with anyone, not even with Lizzie.
"I know that you are awake, but if you don't want to talk, than that's fine by me. I simply wanted to help," Lizzie continued, knowing that it would do the trick. And it did.
"I'm sorry," Faith turned around to look at Lizzie. In the darkness her face was just a white spot against the dark hair.
"Lou's 'newest news' just shocked me. Jem has always been one of my best friends and that he's engaged seems really strange. I simply have to get used to it, I guess," Faith tried to smile, but failed miserably and was grateful for the darkness.
"You sure?" asked Lizzie, clearly not convinced. The explanation seemed a bit weak to her, even more so, when she thought about Faith's total shock, after she received the news or about the way her eyes began to gleam, when someone just mentioned Jem's name and the fact that a smile, a nice word coming from him could light up every grey day for Faith.
"Yes, I am," Faith assured her, "I simply can't get it into my head, that we're all grow up. I mean, it seemed just yesterday, that we played in Rainbow Valley, without a care in the world, and now... well, you know..."
Lizzie shrugged, than yawned, "All right. Good night, then."
"Night," Faith responded and turned around again. Her friend stared at her still silhouette and asked herself, if Faith really believed what she'd said or if she just wanted to believe it. Lizzie herself didn't believe one word of it.
Faith suppressed a sigh. As if she had wasted just one thought on Rainbow Valley, of all things. Her reaction had nothing to do with childhood melancholy or confusion about Jem marrying.
He was almost twenty. At that age her parents had had Jerry and she had been on the way. There was nothing unusual about becoming engaged at twenty. And Jem, if he really would study medicine, couldn't marry in the next three years. What she had said had been complete nonsense!
Now Faith did sigh and silently prayed that Lizzie hadn't heard. The other one didn't show any sign of noticing and a relieved Faith continued to try and organise her feelings, before she fell in a restless sleep.
In the next few days nothing seemed to be able to raise Faith's mood. She was irritable, couldn't concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes and was lost in her thoughts most of the time.
The only thing she always made sure was to disappear every time she only imagined to see a certain red-headed young man.
Lou had lost patience with her friend long ago and asked Faith to tell her if she "returned to her normal self again". Lizzie on the other hand made sure never to leave Faith's side for too long and constantly tried to cheer her up. Faith herself couldn't say what unnerved her more as both seemed almost unbearable to her.
True, these days it only needed a crack in one of the plates or a complicated homework to get her furious, but not even Faith herself could say, what exactly bothered her about Jem's engagement.
And that bothered her even more. If Jem wanted to get married, he should do just that. What did this concern Faith it in the first place?
Suzette King seemed to be a nice enough girl. She was a sophomore and thus not one of the girls Faith socialised with, but it was common knowledge, that Suzette was a nice, pretty and relatively clever girl from a good and wealthy family.
And she was friends with Margaret which only made her more suitable, because normally all of Margaret's friends were nice.
If someone would have asked Faith what she thought about Suzette King prior to her trip home, he'd have got a neutral, but not negative answer. If someone would have asked her afterwards, Faith wouldn't have bothered to answer. She didn't like Suzette anymore, even if the other never had given her a reason to dislike her. Right?
Faith was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't realise the approaching man, until he sat down next to her on the bench. She turned around to tell him to leave her alone, but she forgot what she was about to say the moment she looked in the eyes of her counterpart.
In the very eyes, with which Gilbert Blythe once enchanted Anne Shirley and which in a few months would make Ken Ford fall in love with Rilla Blythe.
Faith gulped. "Hello Jem. How... how are you?" she managed.
"Quite stressed with examinations coming up, but other than that I'm just fine," answered Jem and grinned, "To be honest I haven't been this well since forever."
After hearing his words Faith felt a stab somewhere near her heart, while his grin made her feel strangely light-headed.
"Hmh. Long time no see," Faith said, just to say something harmless. How could she know that she was giving Jem the perfect opportunity to discuss a topic he was very concerned about?
"Indeed. May it be possible, Miss Meredith, that you are avoiding me?" Jem still grinned roguishly, but his eyes showed Faith that he was serious.
"You think so?" she tried to sound surprised, "To be honest, it didn't even occur to me." She knew he wouldn't buy it. And he didn't.
"Faith, Faith, Faith. You never were able to lie to me. Why should it change now of all times?" Jem still managed to keep the conservation light on the surface. Normally Faith always admired him for this ability, but now it only irritated her.
Maybe that was, what made her lose control or maybe it was the whole situation. "What do you want, Jem?" she snapped and looked at him impatiently.
Jem was taken aback. Sure, he knew that she only had very little patience and was quick to snap at people but in all the years he had never been at the receiving end of her moods. Well, there was a first time for everything.
"I wanted to speak to my best friend," Jem responded mildly and could observe that Faith was slowly beginning to regret her behaviour.
She tried to smile, but it looked more like a grimace. But how should Jem know that she, if given the choice, wouldn't choose to be his 'best friend'?
For a moment they both were quiet. Jem watched Faith as she wrestled with herself over something he didn't knew.
After a while one side won and Faith forced a smile on her face about which Jem knew, that it was as fake as the fur coat the old Mrs. McAllister from Glen wore each winter.
"I heard you are engaged. Congratulations. It must be really exciting for you," Faith said with a voice that sounded false even in her own ears.
For a few seconds Jem stared at her, obviously speechless, then he quietly began to chuckle.
"What?" Faith frowned and maybe for the first time during this conversation allowed him to see a true, spontaneous emotion: confusion.
"So, I'm engaged?" Jem managed to keep his voice neutral, "To Suzette, I assume?"
"Yes," Faith suddenly seemed unsure, "The whole of Redmond talks about it."
"That's good to know," Jem grinned, "So I'd better find out where to get a ring soon enough. We wouldn't want to disappoint the whole Redmond, would we now?"
"You mean...?" Faith didn't seem able to complete her sentence. "Exactly," Jem seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
Faith remained quiet and tried to organise her thoughts and feelings, which – thanks to Jem, as always – were completely confused.
"I'm not engaged," Jem said, suddenly very serious, "not to Suzette and not to anyone else. And if I should consider to 'pop the question' some time in the future, I'll make sure that you'll be the first one to know. Promise."
Very slowly a smile made its way onto Faith's lips. It was one of the smiles she only showed when she was truly happy about something.
"That means, Lou's 'newest news' isn't real news, but only a rumour," she said sounding very contented.
"Frankly speaking, I did hear of this rumour," Jem confessed a bit remorseful, "I simply didn't mind it much. Everyone has a rumour about a non-existent relationship following him around sometime during his stay at Redmond. It's only natural.
"Sure, if I had only guessed how serious people take this, I'd have done something, but I seemed to be so absorbed in my studied, that I neglected everything around me. You included. I'm sorry."
"Forget about it," Faith grinned.
And again they were quiet for a few moments, but this time it was a comfortable silence. Like the ones in the past, when they could sit in silence for hours, without feeling awkward or needing to say something.
"But," Faith began after a while, "What exactly is between you and Suzette?"
"Suzette is a nice girl, but definitely not like I picture my future wife to be," Jem responded frankly.
"Oh, the poor dear. I almost pity her," Faith said and smiled, as if she was laughing about her own secret joke, which she didn't want to share with anyone, not even with Jem.
"I would love to stay here with you longer, but, you see, I have this small examination – you might have heard of it – coming up and..." Jem said, again a bit remorseful.
"It's all right," Faith interrupted, "Just promise me two things: don't withdraw yourself from your surroundings like that again and don't overwork yourself."
"Promised" Jem grinned.
After Jem had said his goodbyes, Faith almost floated back to her boarding home.
On the way she met Suzette King, who had visited Margaret, and suddenly Faith had no problems to greet the other girl or to make a bit of small talk. Inwardly she pitied Suzette.
What did this girl have anyway? 'Nice' Jem had called her. But 'nice' Faith was as well. And she had something, what Suzette would never gain. Jem Blythe's confidence, his friendship and his esteem. And that, Faith thought, made life a whole lot easier.
Quickly she reached her boarding home and entered her room, where Lou and Lizzie were playing some kind of card game.
"Faith?" Lizzie asked cautiously, "Is everything all right?"
"Couldn't be better," Faith responded cheerfully and took out a school book, humming to herself all the while. Her friends shared a look and Lou bend forward to quietly ask Lizzie, "And what should we make of this?"