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Paths Beyond Imagining

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With a fast approaching wedding, one would imagine time would slip by at an ever rapid pace, full of preparation and work to be done. Of course, that was a part of the life of any bride to be, but slower moments would always come to be savored, and taking advantage of those moments was almost as important as any other item on the list of things to do. Anne Shirley was by no means ignorant of that fact, nor was she at all likely to miss the opportunity of those moments.

It was for that reason that she was walking hand-in-hand with Gilbert Blythe down Lover’s Lane as the sky was just beginning to turn into the pinks and purples of sunset. When the path had been given that name years earlier, it was not oft used for that purpose, but it certainly was that evening, and it was absolutely suited for it.

The magnificent scenery, however, was escaping Anne nearly entirely, as her gaze was solely on her intended. “Oh, Gilbert. I’m glad we still have a few of these evenings in Avonlea to enjoy. They’re so peaceful, almost like islands in a fast river, where you can just stand for a while and pay no heed to the rushing waters around you.”

Gilbert smiled back at her. “Well, Anne-girl, whatever islands there are in the stream of time, I’m sure glad to be spending with you. And I’m sure we’ll find them even outside Avonlea, in our house of dreams and beyond.”

“Of course we will, and we’ll happily share them forevermore, but there’s something a little bit bittersweet about these ones, isn’t there? Just like with any parting that you know is coming, no matter how much you’re looking forward to what comes after.”

“It’s true enough. Not many more days exactly like these, in this place, but really, no matter how far we roam, we’re never really leaving Avonlea behind, are we? We’re forged from its metal, and I am including you, even if you weren’t born here. There’s going to be a bit of this place with us wherever we go, for the rest of our lives.”

Anne smiled at the sentiment, leaning into Gilbert just a bit. “Like Ulysses. ‘His native home deep imag’d in his soul,’” she quoted. “And of all the things we’ll be bringing with us, you’ll be the best part of Avonlea I’ll have.”

“You know, I could say exactly the same, Anne.”

Her smile stretched into a bright grin, the kind every lover has, although only has in their own way. “We’ll be home for each other, and bring the past with us while we’re creating our future together.”

Gilbert’s own version of that grin met hers. “And what a future it’s going to be. Can’t you just imagine it?”

She laughed. “You know I have never once been lacking for imagination. So many paths stretched before us, in so many different directions, and we could take any one of them. I can see and imagine so many, and yet the one we’ll end up following won’t match any of them, not exactly. And isn’t that just the beauty of it all?”

“That there’s still room for surprise, no matter what kind of imagination you have?”

“Exactly!” She briefly managed to tear her eyes away from Gilbert, taking in the scene they were walking through. “How dreadfully dull it would be if imagination really could predict everything! No surprise in anything, not even the good surprises.”

“You’re absolutely right. I don’t think anyone ever had it in them to imagine you up, Anne, and where on earth would I be without you?”

Anne’s attention returned right to him. “And there’s something I just refuse to imagine on principle. Although I’m sure it would be appropriately tragic.”

“Oh, very,” he agreed cheerfully. “I don’t intend to imagine where you’d be without me, either.”

“I think that both of us are exactly where we were meant to be. And it’s positively Providential.”

He pulled her close and gave her a brief kiss. “I couldn’t agree more. So, what do you imagine lies ahead of us on that unimaginable path?”

“Oh, so many things, Gil. Joys and sorrows in abundance, although hopefully many more of the former. New kindred spirits to be met who can share them with us as we’re nestled in our house of dreams. Oh. Children, of course, and the resulting mischief. But all the mischief in the world won’t drown out the wonder and the love. How about you? What do you see on the roads before us?”

“A bit more prose to your poetry, I think. But I’m imagining a winter night, being out, seeing to a patient, and then finally being able to come home. And then I’m stepping inside to a nice warm fire in the fireplace, an old clock ticking, maybe a dog on the rug, and you.”

“Well, of course I’m waiting up for you. And your patient will be right as rain, won’t he?”

“I left him resting comfortably, in good spirits and improving health. And as glad as the success made me, seeing your face will make me even gladder.”

Anne laughed gaily at that. “Oh, Gilbert, there’s some poetry hiding in your prose after all.”

“I can hardly help it. I guess you just inspire a bit of poetry.”

“Well, how about a spring afternoon to go along with your winter night, then? Right after a rainshower when everything is fresh and the air smells perfectly clean. And I’m out tending to the garden and delighting over the buds of the first spring blossoms and knowing their full beauty will be coming soon. And then I look over and you’re standing there with that little smile on your face you get when you’re just content. And all is right with the world.”

“And all is right with the world,” Gilbert echoed. “I imagine that you’re the person who sees that smile more than anyone.”

“Well, here’s to seeing it many more times, then. I love you content. I also love you discontent and every shade of emotion in between.”

“And I love you in just as many ways. Here’s to the coming days, imagined and unimagined, that we’ll be living together.”

The walk wasn’t a long one, but it was packed with as much joy as could be imagined. And there were many more such moments to come.