Love Letters #36

Dear Tom,

It was Anne Shirley who told her darling husband-to-be Gilbert that she was ‘alone but not lonely’ one beautiful evening whilst walking through the graveyard of Summerside, that year she was away teaching there. A mighty dreadful time she had with those Pringles, I tell you. I was reading of her walks on the train; the countless descriptions of wind surging through the tree lined avenues of the most wondrous places on P.E. Island, and I felt the cool breeze on my face, I saw the violets in their numerous beauty, I smelt the flowers in bloom and the voice of Rebecca Dew echoed uncomfortably close to my ear, that I looked up abruptly, only to see the heads of my fellow modern train passengers, oblivious to my rapture, in raptures (or otherwise) of their own. I laughed loudly at some point, her characters do come up with the most curious things! A rather stern Aunt Mouser told her niece to not quote the bible flippantly, and then turned to Anne and said, ‘You must excuse her, Miss Shirley, she just ain’t used to getting married.‘ Tom, forgive me when I tell you that I found this so funny that tears streamed down my face!

When I turned the book over, there was a little ode to Montgomery, saying that her work ‘continues to draw countless visitors to Prince Edward Island each year.’

I will be very frankly honest with you, dearest, when I say that my heart sank when I read that. I imagined the Prince Edward Island will not be as I imagined it if I ever do go. I made up my mind then and there to never go. I don’t want to see roaring cars and buses and city roads with white paint. I don’t want to see areas of desolation and corrugated iron roofs. I don’t even want to see people wearing modern clothes. I don’t want to see tourists. Granted, they may be like-minded tourists, but tourists they will be nonetheless. I want it to be just how Anne and Emily and Pat describe it, and my heart aches to know it will never be so. I was born too late, I suppose.

I last read Anne of the Island at the age of fifteen. I was reading the first three books over and over again, and only recently did I stumble upon the fourth book, all these years later.

I was trying to fault Anne, I found, whilst reading the fourth book of the Green Gables series. I was trying to fault her for being ‘too perfect’ or ‘too beautiful’ or ‘too well liked’. She is well liked enough, and is able to deftly turn everybody and make them adore her, sure. However, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her adult self again, all these years later as an adult myself and not a child.

Anne is timelessly incredible. She is not too beautiful, because she doesn’t see herself so, and many others pointedly tell her of her carroty hair. She is not too perfect, because she tells Gilbert in an epistolary fashion that she has to accept that not everybody will like her, when certain people very vehemently do not. She is not too anything, and yet she is perfect. She is who I aspire to be.

She is hopeful, she is resourceful. Her words dance with life and laughter, and I imagine her grey eyes to be starry and full of light. She talks to everybody, is friendly with everybody, tries to help all sorts of people. She even cancelled her trip back home to sit with forty year old Pauline Gibson because she knew Pauline was lonely and henpecked by her grumpy old mother. How selfless is that? I don’t doubt that a lot of people were like that at the time, and didn’t think twice of being so generous with themselves and their time. Nowadays everybody is so ‘busy’, so ‘private’, so ‘personal’; never talking to strangers or even trying to find out who one’s neighbours are! Nobody just calls on a newcomer anymore, nobody sends each other cake, nobody calls each other over for supper unless they know them very well, and that is why, I suppose, a lot of us are so lonely!

A little sprinkle of Anne makes any day brighter. I found my day to bloom after reading a few chapters of her, and my heart ached a little, because I would never be able to meet her or become chums with her or wonder the nooks and crannies of the Island with her. She makes a small town like a little heaven here on earth.

I learnt from her to find joy in every aspect of my life. I learnt that even though I don’t live in Avonlea with her, I can find my own little Avonlea just where I am.

I love Anne Shirley, and I can see why others do too; and I am excited to finish following her journey through the eight precious books penned by our very own Lucy Maud Montgomery. Over and over again, delving into the land of magic, spirits and the most eccentric little characters one could ever dream up. She makes my heart yearn for something I can’t quite touch.

Yours most truly,

Amelia.

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James Hill

  

Twig

“Twii-iig!”

That was Delilah. She did not always speak in a lilting tone. It only happened when she was either particularly annoyed, or uncommonly sad. Today, on this fine bright sunny May’s day, she was particularly annoyed. The object of her annoyance? Hmm, let us observe him.

He is walking along with quite a swagger, his hands stuffed deep into the blue pockets of his very baggy blue jeans. His white T-shirt hangs loosely over his skinny frame, and a shock of what looks to be very white hair obscures half his face and all of his neck. He is walking along the pavement, away from Delilah.

“TWWII-III-GG!” her shout has broken new grounds. It has yet to exceed the sound barrier, however.

Let us now describe Delilah. She is slight of build. Her hair is very dark, and falls over her face in softly curling waves. The large, baggy hoody she wears hangs over the black jeans beneath. On her feet she has placed a pair of scuffed black trainers. Her face is sharp and clearly defined; her features small and pretty. Her dark eyes are fringed with thick, long lashes. Her translucent skin reveals, beneath those strange, glittery eyes, a network of pale blue veins. The unusual emphasis of these blue veins gives her a slightly unearthly look.

Twig does not turn at the call of Delilah. He ambles along, smiling at the sky and to his front, but he never looks back. You can see that Delilah is now frowning deeply, seeming quite annoyed.  She stares after Twig, her frown deepening somewhat menacingly. She is not holding her breath, but in her mind is planning all the atrocities she will commit against such rudery. Oh, wait! It seems like she has NOT been thinking of atrocities, but was instead debating whether or not to call Twig again! Ah, she has reached her decision. Here we go…

“Twii-ii-IIII-IIIII-GGG!”

Holy mackerel! It has gone and exceeded the sound limit! Delilah Woods is indeed a talented girl.

Twig can be seen to jump in fright, clutch his arms to his chest and whip round. We can now see his face. It is as sharp featured as Delilah’s. But where Delilah was dark, Twig is not. He has a pair of striking eyes, the colour of cornflowers. His eyebrows and eyelashes are as white as his hair. He, in short, looks the very picture of total and complete terror. His eyes alight on Delilah pretty quickly, and his shoulders sag in relief.

“Oh”, he says, scratching his head, his other hand reaching for the safe haven of his pocket, “S’you”

“Yeah,” Delilah marches over to where he is standing, “after I’ve called you like twenty times!”

“Come now, Delilah…”

“No! Shush, Twig, you need to keep your ears pricked a bit more, you know?”

Twig can be seen to roll his eyes. Delilah, if you must know, is a bit of a drama queen. I think it has become quite apparent to you already, actually.

“Alright” Twig says, meekly. He gives a little smile to indicate that all is well back at the ranch.

“What was it you wanted, ay?”

Delilah hands him an envelope that she had pulled out of her brown satchel over the course of her short admonishment. Eyebrows raised, Twig takes it.

“Goodbye now, Twig” says Delilah, and she turns to make her way home.

Twig looks surprised, “Where are you going?” he asks, curious.

“Home” Delilah sings, her satchel swinging by her side.

“Can I walk with you, then?” it is Twig’s turn to call out. Delilah glances back, eyebrows raised.

“I hate to break it to you, Twig, but you live on the opposite side of town”

Twig nods, “Just checking” he says, simply.

“Fair enough” Delilah replies. Twig heaves a sigh of relief, stuffs the envelope into his pocket where it miraculously fits, and turns and carries on. He can feel his mind sink back into the dreamy state it had been in before Delilah had rudely interrupted him. A haze of blue obscures his vision, and a thin yellow path reveals itself to him as the direction he should be walking in, so that he avoids any obstacles. To you, as a mere outsider, his face looks blank. His eyes dart from here to there, unseeing and glassy. Twig, as it were, is walking in a bubble that is his own, sweet, serene world.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly how he likes it.

The Phenomenal Girl

I think I will start by describing someone to you and see whether or not you find any significance to this person. I sit here, under the baby oak trees, the wind ruffling my lanky hair. (You’re probably wondering why I am describing the setting. Well, it is just that Master Jeffries, my English teacher who may well be reading this right now and swearing to high heaven, has always told me to add in a setting to accompany my description, as it adds orientation to the piece of writing, and I aim to have a very orientated piece of writing.)

As I watch the gulls squeal high above me, I see her walking past.

She carries a brown leather satchel that is slightly faded, and her long golden braids are decked as though for conquest, with coloured strings of exotic varieties of colour, ranging from the deepest opal to the strongest indigo, all weaved intricately through those long plats as they swing down her back and over her shoulders. A few wisps of escaped hair frame her heart-shaped face, where the brightest pair of striking eyes scan the path before her, and its borders, as she carries gracefully on. Her shoes, I notice, are of a turquoise tint, braided at those edges which touch the skin of her foot with exotic-looking beads. She looks like nobody I have ever seen, and yet I set eyes on her everyday at this very spot. You might think that it is a very cheesy thing for me to say, that I have never seen anything like her, because, logically, I have. Since I told you I set eyes on her every day, and have done for the past two years. It’s like I am contradicting myself, if you look at it in a logical manner. However, that is not so. I will deign to explain.

You see, everyday she looks entirely different. Some days, she will come with hair so short she could pass for a boy, if it weren’t for her pretty heart-shaped face. Other days she would come with skin so dark she could pass for a person from Africa or Australia. Some days her nose would be hooked, other days it would be snubbed, but mostly it would be straight and true, and I knew that was her original nose. I lived for the days when she was an original, with her natural colour skin, which was peachy beige, with a tint of rose, and her natural colour hair, which was a sandy colour which glinted like finely spun gold in the sunlight. How, you ask, do I know it is the same person if she appears completely different each day? The answer is actually surprisingly simple.

You can always recognise someone if you notice them enough, if you watch them every day. You recognise the way they take their steps, their little mannerisms and habits, the way they pass, glance at things, the inclinations of their heads and their gait. Most of all, though, it is their eyes. You can always tell someone by their eyes; they are windows into your being, existence, soul. I know the previous sentence might be a cliché, but some cliché’s are worth repeating, such truth do they hold. Her glittering, vivid, bright greeny-grey eyes are unmistakable, and she can never change them. I suppose, if you had a technical mind and really considered it, she might be able to change the colour of her eyes, by wearing contact lenses or something of the sort, or get them dyed (I heard the other day that that was possible to do), but she never did. I’m not sure why, but I cannot say it disappointed me in the least that she did not. It made me appreciate this strangeness even more, and observe it with much more care and attention, wondering at the oddity and sometimes utter impossibility of her daily change in appearance. Yes, impossible.

How did one go about changing their skin colour in such a way? How did they manage to pass the same spot, each 24-hour interval, with differing lengths of hair, differing colours and differing textures? How did they manage to go from a shorn-off look to long flowing locks the very next day? This, dear reader, is what I would consider and mull over daily, waiting for this apparition of absolute brilliance to pass by me each day, as I sat on my insignificant bench. She passed by me each day, but she never seemed to notice me or acknowledge my presence. Sometimes her startling gaze would pass over me, vague and unseeing. Blank, glassy. I knew I could never mean anything to that. Nor did I wish to mean anything to that. I, and forgive me, although I haven’t got the faintest clue why I am asking for this forgiveness, saw her as food for thought. I wondered why one human wanted to look different every single day, what ulterior motive that human might have. I wondered whether that human enjoyed what appeared to be a such tedious task, what must be going on in that human’s head, what must that human’s daily life consist of.

I present to you, dear reader, the Phenomenal Girl.

 

The above is as narrated by Twig Blackadder.