November 13, 1899

Dear Anne,

 

Toronto this time of year isn't as cool as the Island. You'd love the constant movement of industry at work, the thrill of women biking to work in trousers, much like Miss Stacey! People bustle here and there, oblivious to how I yearn for the smell of the ocean, the taste of saltwater on my tongue. With each passing day I grow nostalgic for the familiarities of home. I crave Bash's advice, and Mary's cooking, and contraband moonshine in the dark. And you, Queen Anne, I crave you, with your sharp wit and fiery spirit, and kisses that, well—I wouldn't mind repeating.

 

I remember as a child, my dad was so enamored with the world beyond our front door, never wasting an opportunity to take us on an adventure of some sort. From small towns in the middle of nowhere, to The Rockies, to the flat prairie lands stretching for endless miles in every direction...it didn't matter as long as we were moving. He spent his whole life looking for home in other places, wanting me to know that anything I imagined was possible. Ironically, the only things I truly desire in life are deeply rooted in the red earth of the place where I began.

You, Anne, are a master of stealth. I shouldn't be surprised that you managed to sneak out to stargaze with me across time and space, yet I'm continually impressed. Just thinking about it makes me smile so hard my face hurts... but first, let me tell you about the rather brazen "trick" I pulled to be alone with you under the night sky.

 

I slipped out of my room, quilt in hand, fully intending to lay upon the mossy ground down by the path that people whisper is called Philosopher's Walk. (What a haunting name, don't you think? So much scope for the imagination!) However, the grass was unexpectedly stiff with frost, and as I wasn't smart enough to double up on blankets, I snuck up to the old stone astronomy tower, slipping on its cobbled stairs on the long way up. Anne, would you believe that there was a couple up there, kissing something fierce in the dark? I could barely suppress both my shock and the unwarranted laughter that lodged itself in my throat, threatening to burst out of me without warning. Now, of course, no one is supposed to be up there without permission, but considering that I was alone I allowed myself to feel self-righteous in my deceit. Do you think me wicked, Anne?

I folded my arms across my chest and leaned against the doorway until the young man in question felt the burn of my judgement on his back. He rose so quickly, so awkwardly, that his head banged against the wall lantern, letting out a stream of curses so incredibly inventive that I won't be forgetting them anytime soon. Thank goodness the fire wasn't lit, or he might have escaped with considerably fewer hairs! His embarrassment certainly didn't stop him from having the audacity to accuse me of spying on him and his girl—

 

"Careful," I said, "I'm not the one stealing kisses in the dark."

 

That sobered him up real quick, and I dissolved into relieved laughter when they left me to your glorious company short moments later. Thinking back on it, the whole stunt reminded me so much of Moody that while I was up there I felt a little less homesick.

Now tell me, Anne, what stories did you whisper to the wind? Which constellations did you trace with your slender fingers, reaching up as if the glimmering orbs were within your reach? Was it Orion, or Andromeda… or perhaps Cassiopeia, with her arms chained to the Milky Way? Tell me, so that my eyes can travel the same pathways, so that for a brief moment, we defy gravity when our hearts touch somewhere in the universe. Tell me, because these moments, these letters, these words are the only cure for loneliness in the churning seasons spent apart.

 

Speaking of churning… I'm almost embarrassed to tell you about an incident that occurred in my Biology practicum last week. Now, I'm swearing you to secrecy. You CANNOT tell Bash because he will never let me live it down, not after I fainted when he was having his tooth pulled a couple years back (don't ask, although I know you will...) We were set to dissect frogs, and I felt that I had prepared myself sufficiently for the task. But let me tell you, the textbook and reality are two quite different things. The moment the smell of formaldehyde hit my senses, I felt nauseated. Suddenly, the sight of picked remains in glass jars littered about the room made my knees weak and I felt dangerously close to fainting. I had to excuse myself to dry heave for a solid ten minutes in the privy, in which I seriously doubted my purpose in life. I know you're laughing, Anne, because I would be too, just a little. You'll be happy to know that I was just fine afterward, thank you very much.

Just a few weeks left now until we reunite for Christmas. My heart beats in anticipation of seeing you again soon! The year has gifted us with so many changes… and it's fair share of losses too. This time last year, Mary was almost at the end of her confinement with Dellie. Home with her was the warmth of a family I'd never really had, and when she passed, I admit to believing that I'd never be able to recapture that feeling. And yet, with you by my side, and the thought of celebrating with friends and loved ones, I know that healing is possible. Perhaps we can give Dellie a birthday gift... together? Think on it and let me know.

 

Well, my fingers are thoroughly stained with ink. I'd say it's dark, but it's always bright here, even when the sun goes down. I miss you, Anne-girl. Wherever you are is home. I love you, I love you, I love you.

 

Always,

 

Gilbert

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