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The Speakeasy

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That Anne-girl was a passionate individual alright. Everytime she recited a poem a certain curly haired boy in the crowd, was so enamored that he imagined what it would be like if she was speaking directly to him. He wondered what it would be like if she could look at him the same way as when she read her favorite line. He couldn’t begin to conceive what it would feel like to have those lips- he cut himself off and shook his head. He didn’t even know her, didn’t even know her last name. How could he possibly be this smitten over someone he’s never even said a word to? When his gaze drifted back up he remembered, the fire, the beauty that she held, it was more than enough for him to fall head over heels for her. 

He would never say anything though, he just didn’t have it in him. Gilbert Blythe was always the quiet one, always keeping to himself, trying to be in his own world. Unfortunately his friends weren’t on the same track as he was. They were a rowdy group, always getting themselves into the craziest situations. One time his best bud Billy, if you could call him that, had almost gotten them arrested for running around the streets causing a commotion! Gilbert hadn’t even wanted to go out that night, he wanted to stay home and read, but Jane and Josie had insisted that Billy would cause trouble if Gilbert didn’t accompany them. 

That’s how he had found this place though, Gilbert reminisced. After the cops showed up that night, they ran and stumbled into the closest building which happened to be a library. It had taken a moment for them to process they were in a library in the middle of the night, they panicked thinking they had broken in, when a tall, lanky man in all black walked up to them and directed them to the back. As confused as they were, they followed him anyways. The man had asked them what the code word to get in was but none of them had any idea. Before they could answer the door swung open and a beautiful woman with a warm smile greeted them.

“Hello! My name is Muriel, what brings you to my fine, lucrative establishment this evening?” she asked with a playful tone.

Jane stepped forward and spoke up, “Good evening miss! A friend had mentioned this place to us and told us to check it out, so here we are. My apologies that we didn’t have the word for entrance tonight, she didn’t mention it!” Jane lied through her teeth. None of them had any idea where they were or what this place was but she didn’t want to risk going back outside and running into the police. 

“Well that’s quite alright dear! Come right in!” Muriel guided them into the hall and downstairs where they entered into a grand room that looked a lot like a bar or a restaurant. In that moment it dawned on Gilbert, they were in a speakeasy! One of the books he had read recently had one in it and he so desperately wanted to visit one. 

“Sit anywhere you please, and drinks are half off for the gentlemen tonight.” Muriel continued, “Except this one looks like he had more than enough already.” She gestured towards Billy, sounding half joking, half serious. Gilbert politely thanked her and then guided his friends to a table near the back corner. He didn’t want anymore attention drawn to them than necessary.

After sitting his friends down, he excused himself and made his way towards the bar. After all of this, a drink was in order to calm down. While waiting, Gilbert noticed a piano back over near the entrance. There was a blonde boy seated playing the most lovely melody and gilbert began humming along, but not before he noticed the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen standing next to the piano swaying and singing to herself, or maybe she was talking to the pianist. He couldn’t really tell from where he was sitting. 

“That’s Anne.” a random voice from beside him explained. Gilbert turned to face the man and quirked his eyebrows in response. “Or Cole if you’re interested in boys, sorry” The man choked out awkwardly. The man wasn’t trying to offend Gilbert, just wanted to make conversation. 

“She’s beautiful” Gilbert finally answered, and inwardly cringed. Why would he say that to a complete stranger? “Anne” He repeated quietly. 

“Isn’t she?” The man turned to look at her and then quickly turned back to Gilbert and held out his hand, “I’m Royal, but you can call me Roy” 

“Hi Roy, I’m-” Gilbert was cut off by someone yelling his name

“Gilbert! Long time no see! How have you been?” It was Moody, Gilbert’s childhood best friend who left to travel the world and had apparently come back to Avonlea. 

Gilbert, who was in reality too shocked to say anything, praised whatever god was out there when the bartender handed him his drink. He quickly paid and spat out some excuse about getting back to his table. The drink in Gilbert’s was gone before he could make it back to his seat. He just wanted to forget everything about this night, well almost everything. He smiled and looked back at the girl by the piano to see that she had left. Disappointed, he turned back around to look and see what was going on on the stage. There she was, in all her beauty, talking about something that he couldn’t quite hear, but he knew in that moment he wanted to hear more. He didn;t even realize Josie was talking to him.

“Earth to space cadet do you ever listen to me?” Josie whisper-yelled at him. 

“Sorry, I was just thinking.” Josie rolled her eyes when he said this but continued anyways. 

“Did you hear what that weirdo was talking about up there? A poetry slam on Tuesday? I wouldn’t be caught dead at something like that. And what was she wearing, it made her look so ugly. Don’t you think Gilly?” Josie rambled on, looking at him with adoration but Gilbert had zoned out again, responding distantly unsure of what he actually said. He was more focused on the fact the he now had a reason to see her again. In that moment he decided he would come here again on Tuesday, if not for the girl, then to be around like minded individuals who appreciated literature and poetry like him. Sure Gilbert liked his friends, but they weren’t who he would choose to spend his time with. They had chosen him and he just went along with it, not really being one to cause a scandal or ruffle any feathers.

Billy had decided it was safe to leave soon after, while they were leaving GIlbert paused to take a good look around. It was truly beautiful in there. The lights were dim but warm and inviting/ The entire room felt so homey with the wood old timey furniture and comfy chairs towards the front of the room near the stage. He wished he were a poet in that moment. To be able to describe things with such a spirit that you could just picture what he was seeing and feel what he was feeling. Alas, he was confined to his mediocre vocabulary to describe one of the most enchanting places he had ever been. One of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. One of the awkwardest encounters he had ever had. One of the strangest nights he had ever experienced. He made an effort to commit to memory everything that had transpired despite wanting to forget most of it. As they left Gilbert secretly asked Muriel for the code word on tuesday. She laughed, which confused him, and told him to bring a copy of his favorite poem. 

 

Gilbert smiled at the memory, that was a few weeks ago. Now, it was nearing the end of November and he attended every Tuesday. His friendship with Muriel was one he cherished, for she understood him, he found it so refreshing to have a friend that he could connect with even if she was years older than him. He even confided in her about the school boy crush he had on the girl with the orange hair. Muriel always laughed and chided him for not introducing himself. She had even offered to introduce them but he always refused. Something about not wanting to burst his bubble; however as the weeks went on and his feelings grew, he knew he needed to do something, he just wasn’t sure what yet. 

 

Meanwhile, all of this was unbeknownst to Anne. As close as she was with Anne, Muriel never broke the trust of Gilbert. Anne hadn’t ever even noticed the poor boy. She was too preoccupied with all the other things going on in her life to be concerned with things such as romance.