Jane Anne Grows Up

Jane Anne's first year of high school turned out to be a pivotal point in her life. After Christmas that year, the four girls became inseparable. Each one of them had special strengths that bolstered weaknesses in the others. Jane Anne was academically gifted, but socially inept. The three other girls could start a friendly conversation with anybody, about anything. They slowly taught Jane Anne  the social skills that would sustain her for the rest of her life.

She used her math and science skills to  help overcome Melissa and Andrea's weak grasp of the basics. Jocelyn was strong in the maths, sciences, and geography but she could not write a simple poem or define a verb. The March break of that year was mostly spent in Jane Anne's quiet trailer bedroom away from the other girls' noisy siblings. They spent the entire week studying for the spring exams.

The girls loved to visit Jane Anne, because it was the only time they could have private time to themselves without adults or younger kids to bother them. For the first time in her life, she was not ashamed of where she lived. Even when Jane Anne's mom was home, she never had any need to scold or reprimand any of them. She liked all three of the girls, and she loved what their extremely positive influence did for her little girl's confidence and emotional health.

Jane Anne's story journal was completely filled by the time she entered high school, and she never needed another one. Her stories filled volumes of paper that one little journal could not contain. She kept her stories in binders. She did however, keep the back page where she had begun her List of Gratitude. It grew and grew till it filled a small binder of its' own. When she started attending church with her friends, she looked at her list each Sunday, and said a private prayer of gratitude and hope for the well being of all the newest ones. She didn't forget the older entries though. She didn't pray for them every week, she prayed for them every day. Those oldest entries of gratitude for small kindnesses were the people who changed her sad unhappy life forever!

The first June of her life long friendship, all four girls got such high marks in so many subjects, every one of them won at least one academic prize. Jane Anne won enough money to take a correspondence course in creative writing, geared to producing publishable results. Her high school didn't offer that. Although she never did publish a book, she was able to sell several short stories to magazines when she eventually attended university. That small income helped her get through school.

The years went by, and high school became a joy instead of a nightmare for Jane Anne. She spent as much time at her friends' places as they spent at hers. Each year was better than the last for her. The year she turned sixteen, her mom was promoted to general manager of the restaurant where she had worked  all of Jane Anne's life. Her hours were much less, but her salary was much more. She had the chance to buy a small house closer to town, so they moved out of the trailer park that summer.  As she grew older, Jane Anne became more outgoing, more likely to start a conversation, more likely to tease the older brother of her best friend Melissa. She had become rather fond of Mark, but of course she didn't tell him that.

The autumn Jane Anne entered grade eleven,  Mark went away to university. He discovered to his surprise how much he missed Jane Anne's shy smiles and gentle teasing. He began writing to her from school. He also wrote to his parents, but the letters to Jane Anne were funnier, more descriptive, and they gave a lot more detail about his daily life on campus. The other girls knew about the letters, and sometimes Jane Anne shared excerpts with her friends. There were letters that she didn't share with anyone, only her heart. Those were the letters that Mark told her how much he missed her, how much he cared about her.

When Jane Anne turned seventeen, Mark gave her a birthstone promise ring, and they became a couple. During her final year at high school, she applied and was accepted to the same university Mark attended. She  won several bursaries and a partial scholarship. She didn't have to worry too much about finances while she earned her degree for literature, and a teaching certificate. When she entered university, Mark was in his final year. They spent as much time as they possibly could together, considering they were both buried in class work and exams.

She kept track of Melissa and Jocelyn by mail, computer and telephone calls the entire time they attended different universities. Andrea however, dropped out of school during her second year. She also dropped out of her friends' lives without warning. Her mother told them she was alright, but she had some issues to deal with. This saddened and worried the three girls, but if Andrea chose not to contact them, there was nothing they could do about it. They continued on with their lives without her, although they truly missed her.

The day Jane Anne graduated from university, Mark presented her with a beautiful solitaire diamond and asked the age old question..

"Will you marry me?"

Of course she said yes! She loved him dearly. She had loved him since that first Christmas nativity play where she had sat beside him in the bleachers. The following summer, Mark and Jane Anne were married  at the same church she attended since they first met. Melissa served as maid of Honor, and Jocelyn was her bridesmaid. The three friends had tried to find Andrea, but her mother had left the area, and her father wasn't talking.

Susan Smith could not contain her tears of joy and pride as she escorted  her daughter down the aisle toward the altar. Jane Anne  looked radiant in her long long white silk gown with it's overlay of old lace.  She could not contain her tears either, as she walked down the rose strewn path toward her new life as the bride of the man she loved more than life itself.

The End

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