The Things That Happen to Geraldine Chapter 1: Anne of Green Gables

To my crush–

 

I was in a pretty rough spot when we met. I was depressed and unhappy with life, and the only thing I was good at was feeling sorry for myself and refusing to change. Then came the day when Dorothea was taking the reference picture for her Nativity scene painting. She dressed me up and had me pose as Mary, and then she had you as a shepherd right beside me. I remember thinking, “Woah, he’s kind of cute,” when I first saw you, and after she took the picture she needed, we all went home, and I kept thinking about you. I decided that I liked you the next few times we met, and I was dying to talk to you and get to know you, but I never could. I was too uncomfortable and afraid of people to ever take a chance like that. So, instead, I would stand in the shadows, hoping the impossible would happen and you might notice me. But, of course, it never did. So I channeled my upset and distress into overcoming my fear and being myself again. Over the course of last summer, it did, but I had to leave town and go back home without ever having had a conversation with you. It would be an entire school year before I saw you again! I was so frustrated and I wished I’d never liked you in the first place. I wished I had never met you! Then suddenly…I didn’t. I didn’t wish I had never met you, because I never would have had a crush. If I’d never had a crush, I’d still be that cowardly, lost girl who was too afraid to face the music and overcome her fear. I’d still be that girl who has trying to balance being happy with being scared to death. You provided the motivation for me. Sure, I never got to talk to you in the end, and you never got to see a happy, fearless me, but I wouldn’t even be that me if it hadn’t been for you! This summer, I’m gonna try my hardest to talk to you, but I still might be too shy. No, no, I’m gonna make sure I get to know you this time around, because I’m not afraid anymore! And if it ends up you don’t like me back, or if I actually stop liking you, then that’s okay. I’d rather just have a friend. And I know we could be good friends because I don’t like just anybody, and it’s not just anybody that can cause me to change for the better. But I’m getting off track! What I need to say, why I’m writing this letter right now, is… Thank you, Virgil. Thank you for what you’ve done for me.

 

All my best,

Gerrie

 

Geraldine read over the quartz-white page she had spread on top of a book on her bed, then crisply folded it and put it in the drawer underneath to forget about. She intended to write about her feelings to find an answer then never read it again, but perhaps keep the note for posterity. She stood up (her knees felt strange after kneeling down for so long) and walked to the bedroom mirror, admiring her resemblance to one of her favorite book characters with her strawberry blonde braids, 1900’s girl’s dress, and crackly straw hat rimmed with flowers. She looked just like Anne of Green Gables done up like this, although her hair wasn’t as ‘decidedly red’. It looked like it couldn’t make up its mind between a fiery sunset color or a sweet modest blonde. It was sort of pretty, but in its indecision gave up the chance to be truly remarkable. That didn’t bother Geraldine though. She still had her straight nose, cheekbones just shy of being pronounced, and big, wondering eyes that seemed gray, but were actually an understated blue. She looked like a painting done by a skilled artist with a flair for the tall, composed and elegant. Gerrie herself was only composed and elegant, though, in new environments and around strangers.

Gerrie promptly snapped out of her musings, picked up her things, and left the house. In a few minutes (actually it had been longer, but Geraldine was bad at keeping time) she arrived at her destination: an amateur music video shoot in the middle of Sour Plum Park, based on Anne of Green Gables. Pleasant scenes of busyness from actresses in period dress like Gerrie and ‘crew’ members decorating a long, flat boat with flowers manifested themselves. But Geraldine quickly spotted the object of her affection: the smart, good-looking Virgil, messing with a camera. Upon spotting her, he smiled a friendly smile. A red-faced Geraldine smiled sweetly back. Contact had been made! It was barely a moment between them, however, because at the arrival of their Anne the busyness of the crew and actors became briefly more pronounced and far more organized as they ushered her to position and got their 3 cameramen ready. When action was finally called, an hour was spent filming the same exhausting scene over and over again. Geraldine was laid down upon the long, flat boat holding a bouquet of flowers and pushed out by the other actress onto the large and calm creek, where she floated peacefully for a minute or two before being caught and pulled back to shore, and everything was reset for another take.

“Alright, I think we got what we need!” A loud and energized Rudy called, taking 5 to review his and fellow cameramen’s footage. “Curtis, you’re up!”

Curtis, a handsome brown-haired boy, perked up from the bench he was sitting on, appearing confused.

“Curtis, you’re up!” An actress, Ruby, repeated.

Their Gilbert sprung up from the bench and down to the bank, climbing into a small dory.

“Okay people,” Rudy called, “this boat’s not gonna last long before it sinks, and it would be really nice if we could get this in one take, so let’s move down a little, closer to the bridge.”

They did so, and managed to get the scene perfect on their first try, to the intense relief of those on the sidelines biting their nails. Everybody thoroughly exhausted, they only celebrated for a minute before packing up their items and leaving the park, ready for a long rest at home; though some with boundless energy (Rudy, perhaps) might practice their monologues for next week’s auditions.

Geraldine felt the breeze on her neck, blowing a cloud in front of the sun. Instead of going straight home, she sat down on the bench Curtis had once been sitting on and tiredly picked the flowers out of her hair, which had been taken out of its tight braids and decorated before they had begun shooting. A tiny bluet was plucked out and dropped upon the grass, followed by some wild white anemone.

“Need some help there?” said Virgil, walking towards her! Alongside quiet Curtis, he was the other resident looker in the group. He was tall, but not much taller than Geraldine, and a little wiry. His hair was well-trimmed, curly and lion blond; sitting above a face that was all sharpness and softness in the right places. His old-copper-blue eyes were constantly alight with a sort of playfulness, and any expression given held its meaning in the corners of his eyes and mouth. Just now, the corners told curiosity and helpfulness.

Geraldine tried desperately to cover up her brightening delight and be normal. “Oh, you don’t have to,” she said, unable to help smiling.

“Sure I do,” he said, giving her a charming look.

Geraldine tried not to giggle as he sat down beside her, helping pull chicory and bluets and anemone out of her waved hair.

“So I know I saw you around last summer, but I don’t remember ever getting your name.” He said, breaking a brief quiet.

“I’m Geraldine Jensen,” she answered a little too quickly. “You’re Virgil, right?”

“Virgil Gauguin,” he affirmed. Another brief silence befell them before Virgil broke it again. “So, I’ve gotta ask, were you nervous filming the scene where your boat sank?”

“No,” She stopped, interested by the question. “I’d actually been looking forward to it for days.”

“You had? I figured someone might be nervous for something like that.”

“Not me, I guess. Well,” she admitted, “I was a little worried about whether or not I would catch the bridge pile in time, but it ended up working out all right.”

“It did,” he commented, distracted by the last, particularly large flower he was pulling out. “There. Why don’t you shake your head out?” He finished.

Geraldine stood and flipped her hair over, running her hands through it and shaking it out thoroughly, a last little blossom falling out onto the ground. She flipped her hair back up cheerfully. “I think we’re good! Thanks so much for helping me,” she said.

“No problem.” He assured.

There followed another moment of silence, in which an entertained Virgil didn’t leave and an awkward Gerrie stood, expecting him too.

“So,” Geraldine started, beginning to walk, “have you read the book the video is based on, or have you been just kind of going with the flow?”

“Read it, and the bridge part is my favorite.” He answered with a satisfied air. He unconsciously kept pace with Gerrie.

“It’s my second favorite part. I like when she hits Gilbert with the slate better.”

“Classic.” He said. “That’s in two days, right?”

The conversation continued as the two ambled down the side of the creek, talking about the shoot and about last summer and the upcoming summer drama, wondering what it might be and who might take the leading parts. Geraldine found herself pleasantly absorbed.

Virgil, on the other hand, became completely fascinated. He had noticed Gerrie last summer, and only just, but now after these minutes of conversation, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. Why had he never talked to Geraldine before? She was very pretty, very pretty, and the way she talked was extremely smart and well-informed and full of personality, belief, and unobtrusive opinion. What really did it, though? How ready she seemed to laugh, and treated it like a weakness. That was something Virgil could work with. It wasn’t ten minutes before he found himself head-over-heels. He caught himself grinning just a little by the time they made it to the bridge.

That was when an idea, wild and carefree, lodged itself in his mind, and his inborn craving for mischief perked up inside.

They had walked halfway across the bridge and stopped in the middle, Geraldine using a pause in the conversation to gaze dreamily at the patterns of flowing water below. Looking up, she could see that the clouds, blowing in front of and past the sun alternately, threw occasional patterns of shadow across the ground, and the wind rocked the branches of green trees. Turning her gaze back to the water, she rested her face on the bridge rail.

Then came the moment that changed their relationship forever.

“Hey, can I try something?” Virgil asked innocently, leaning against the rail.

Geraldine returned to a normal standing position. “Sure,” she answered.

Virgil swooped down and pecked Geraldine on the lips in a moment almost too quick to remember.

Very briefly, all in succession, Geraldine felt a surge of delight, followed by a stopping force that was reason. She stood there, unsure of what to do. A moment, then her face dropped into a more unpleasant look, reflecting a solid change inside. He had kissed her on the lips! Not a make-out kiss, just a peck, but she hadn’t liked that he’d done it. No, she really hadn’t liked that he’d done it. What had he been thinking?! What sort of a person kissed a strange girl on the lips? Geraldine knew. Her interior castles crumbled, her warm daydreams of her and crush disintegrated, blowing into a spiritual wind. The kind of boy that would do that wasn’t a thoughtful, kind or concerned one. That kind of boy had sheer nerve disguised as confidence and entertainment. At that moment, her self-respecting, ladylike heart erected a wall against Virgil Gauguin. A wall that would certainly crumble at the first honest apology, but one that would stand strong otherwise.

Geraldine drew herself back. “What was that?!”

“Oh,” Virgil said. “That was nothing, I was just teasing you.”

“Just teasing me?!” For half a second, a breeze of laughter fluttered into Geraldine. That was such a funny, random thing to do for a laugh! Imagine! But her offended anger burned it up instantly. “What sort of ‘teasing’ was that?” She demanded.

“I tease everyone like that. Well, not exactly like that– ”

“You’re a very bold person, Virgil.” She stated, her intense glare flavoring every word. “You’ve got a lot of guts doing something like that. Don’t ever come near me again.” Dignified, she departed from the side of the bridge and walked back down the way she had come.

“Wait!” Virgil called. “I didn’t mean to make you so mad!”

“Then you should’ve thought about what you were going to do before you did it!”

“Wait, please, I’m sorry!” He begged.

“No!” Was all that reply that came.

Virgil sank. Geraldine was right. He was bold, but people usually found him charming for it. But no, not this time, because this time he had been too bold, and he knew Geraldine was right for being mad at him. But he would make up for it, because at the same time Geraldine had decided she disliked Virgil… Virgil had decided that he was completely smitten.

Regaining heart, he followed her off the bridge at a respectful distance, ready to see her again in two days.

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