He was back. Gilbert was back in Avonlea. It had been a while and while he missed his friends, he really didn't think about them too much. No, he was worried about his father. His father had been sick for some time now. They had visited the district of Alberta, where he was born. But now they were back because his father had said "no son of mine is going to miss out on his education". So they had returned just as the new school year had commenced.
It was technically the first day of school when they arrived back at their home in Avonlea. It was about midday and Gilbert was exhausted. He thought it better for him to rest and take care of his father, returning to school the following day. He went to bed, dreaming about what it would be like to return to school. He knew he was a popular boy. The other boys seemed to enjoy his company and the girls thought he was nice enough. He knew some of them had crushed on him, and while he could be charming and flirty, he would never actually court them. They were too young for that, and he had more important things to deal with.
The next day he awoke bright and early to do his chores before school. He was excited to arrive early and get back into the swing of things. He hurriedly prepared his lunch and breakfast for his father. He grabbed his belongings and swiftly went to the door, almost knocking down Mrs. Kincannon.
"Oh!" she exclaimed when the boy ran into her.
"Sorry, Mrs. Kincannon," Gilbert apologized, ears red. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
"Never mind now, "She smiled. "Run along now. Wouldn't want to be late on your first day back to school."
"Thank you,' Gilbert called over his shoulder as he made his way to school. He took the regular trail he used to take to school through the woods. He heard leaves crunching leaves somewhere to his left and a girl's voice.
"You're a bad dog! Bad little dog!' he heard a boy's voice yell. It almost sounded like..
Billy Andrews. And a girl he had never seen before. She must have moved with her family while he was away. She didn't look much younger than Gilbert. She had red hair and freckles and fear all over her face. Gilbert got a bad feeling in his stomach and knew he needed to intervene.
"Hey Billy," He called out. Billy and the girl both whipped around their heads to the sound of his voice. Billy's threatening demeanor changed immediately. "How's it going?"
Billy looked back at the girl and then at Gilbert. "Hey, Gilbert."
"Man, it's-it's, um, it's good to be back."
"Uh.. "Billy looked stunned. "Yeah. Yeah, welcome back."
"Yeah, it's good to see you, buddy,' Gilbert said with fake enthusiasm. He wasn't sure what Billy had planned to do with the girl, but Gilbert knew it wasn't good. "So you guys, uh, playing a game or something, right?"
Neither Billy nor the girl spoke.
"Looks, fun, but we should probably get to school, eh?" Gilbert looked Billy in the eyes. "Hate to be tardy. Mr. Phillips gets his dander up about that."
"Yeah. I was just about to get going." Billy lied. He turned menacingly to the girl. "See you there." Billy stalked off. Gilbert turned his attention to the small girl beside him. He took the opportunity to give her a once over. She had bright red braids, freckles all over her face, and a simple dress, unlike most girls Gilbert went to school with. But the thing he noticed the most was her eyes. They were large and bright and currently full of fear and shock.
"You alright, miss?" he asked. That seemed to snap her out of her daze. She crouched down to pick up her belongings.
"School,"she managed to say , hurrying past him.
"You're welcome!" he said as she walked past him. Rude, he thought. "Need anything else? Any dragons around here need slaying?"
"No! Thank you!" the girl called back. Gilbert was confused. He had never seen this girl before and she didn't even introduce herself.
"Who are you?" He called after her. But she kept walking. "Hey, who are you?"
She continued on her way to school and Gilbert rushed to follow her out of the woods. the girl tried her best to avoid him. Gilbert was not used to this. Normally a line like the slaying dragons alone would cause the girl to giggle and blush, but this girl completely ignored him. He finally caught up to her when they weren't very far from the school.
"Uh, Miss," Gilbert called as he tried to catch up to her. "Uh, what's your name, Miss?"
Yet she continued walking. She didn't even look back at him. Gilbert was starting to get annoyed. This girl hadn't fallen for his charm and was being incredibly rude.
"What, you can't tell me your name?" he joked. He finally caught up to her. She stopped momentarily in front of the school house. She still didn't acknowledge him. Then she quickly began walking again.
Gilbert ran in front of her and opened the door. "Here. Here allow me."
She mumbled "thank you" before walking in. Gilbert was greeted with the chatter of the other students but his focus was on the girl in front of him.
"I'm sorry if I was rude," the girl finally spoke to him. She turned to face him. "I'm Anne."
Gilbert didn't even get a chance to introduce himself before the boys interrupted him and pulled him aside.
"How was the district of Alberta?" Moody asked him. "Did you see the Rocky mountains?"
Gilbert chuckled. "They're pretty hard to miss."
"Were they big?"
Gilbert rolled his eyes. "They're mountains."
"Is your dad feeling better?" Charlie asked. That. That was the question Gilbert had been dreading. The truth was, no, his father was not better. And he probably wasn't going to be better in the foreseeable future. But Gilbert still had hope. Hope that his father would have a miraculous recovery and things would return to normal. But if they didn't- Gilbert didn't want to think about that.
"Uh, we're both glad to be home," Gilbert said simply.
"Why were you walking with that orphan girl?" Charlie asked. Orphan? Anne was an orphan? Well that didn't matter to him.
"She's a loon," Moody said.
"Says you," Gilbert scoffed.
"Hope you didn't get any asylum cooties," Charlie laughed. He didn't know why but Gilbert didn't like his classmates talking about the girl like that. He kind of just stared at his friends, shocked that they were being so judgmental.
But Gilbert recovered quickly. "Uh-oh. There's one!" he said, looking down at Charlie's shirt. When Charlie looked down, Gilbert flicked his nose. The boys began laughing.
"Besides, I don't care where she's from," Gilbert said, honestly. "A cute girl is a cute girl."
And he meant it. He knew he wanted to talk to this girl, no matter what it took (later on he would regret that statement).