A Sister’s Advice
LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Almanzo’s packed belongings sat at the edge of his bed. One bag and one knapsack to carry with him to his new life in Sleepy Eye. He would stop by Laura’s house this morning before school to talk to her.
Eliza Jane had been quiet at supper last night. They grew up together. They had never lived apart. When she left home to accept the teaching position in Walnut Grove, he offered to go with her. As hard as it was to leave his parents all alone in Spring Valley, as the second oldest son, he had a responsibility to make sure she stayed safe. Royal married years ago, and with Perley Day’s whereabouts unknown, Almanzo filled his wagon with household items and provisions, and made the drive to his new home with Eliza Jane.
Part of him struggled with his need for independence versus his need to care for his sister, but seeing Mr. Ingalls in town every day and sitting across the aisle from him at church on Sunday mornings, pretending he agreed with Mr. Ingalls’s decision that Laura and he must wait two years to marry, pushed him forward. He made plans for Ned Turner to help with the farm while he was away, so at least Eliza Jane wouldn’t have to worry about managing all the chores by herself.
Almanzo’s boots thudded on the stairs as he marched down to the kitchen for breakfast. He doubted his sister would allow him to go without a lecture, but he had made up his mind. He wanted a future with Laura, and her overprotective father stood in the way of their happiness.
“Good morning, Sis.” He caught how she glanced out of the corner of her eye at him as she stirred scrambled eggs in a cast iron pan.
Eliza Jane poured him a cup of coffee and handed it to him. “Good morning, Mannie. Sleep well.”
What is she up to? He knew his sister well enough to know that the temporary shock of last night’s announcement had worn off. She would have plenty to say.
He shrugged. “Not really, but I have a lot on my mind.”
“I’m sure you do.” Eliza Jane slid a plate of ham and eggs in front of his seat at the table and sat down at her seat opposite him. She looked over the rim of her glasses. “Are you still planning on leaving this morning?”
He nodded. “Yes. I’ll head over to Laura’s place after I drop you off in town. Shouldn’t take her long to pack up. Then we’ll head out to Sleepy Eye.” He shoveled a large forkful of food into his mouth, which he washed down with a swig of coffee.
Eliza Jane crossed her arms and leaned them on the table’s edge. “What makes you think Laura will go with you?”
Almanzo stopped his fork mid-air, his mouth remaining open. “What do you mean?”
“She has a lot to consider, you know.” Eliza Jane slid her mostly full plate aside. “Without warning you’re going to ask her to pick up her life and move to Sleepy Eye? What about her teaching? What about her family?”
His sister’s lecture quickly got annoying. Beth would go with him. Hadn’t she been in love with him forever? Didn’t she immediately say yes when he asked her to marry him?
“Sis, we are only moving to Sleepy Eye, not Boston.” One corner of his mouth lifted, creating a crooked smile. “We can come visit once we get settled.”
Eliza Jane pursed her lips as he spoke. She stood straighter in her seat, like she did when she made a point to a student. “Mannie, you know I want what’s best for you. I always have.” She lowered her gaze and smiled. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciated you coming with me to Walnut Grove when I accepted this job. I’m sure a single young man had other things in mind for his life, but you chose to live here.”
She reached across the table and clutched his hand. “While I am thankful, I never would have asked you to pick up everything and move here with me.” Eliza Jane shook her head. “You’re not giving Laura any choice. She loves you, and if she wants to be with you, she must leave the place she has called home for years and leave behind her family. Are you sure you want to ask that of her?”
Almanzo pushed his seat back and stood. The heat of his anger rose to create a ring of sweat around his shirt collar. “You don’t understand, Sis. How am I supposed to face Mr. Ingalls every day and pretend that we agree when we don’t? How is Beth supposed to feel about me as a husband if I can’t stand up and fight for what we want?”
He stormed off to the kitchen and dropped his plate and cup in the sink. When he turned around, his red-headed sister stood in the kitchen doorway. Tall and slender, her eyeglasses made her appear older than she was. The red, black, and white plaid dress she often wore to school didn’t help. Growing up in Malone, she used to be so fashionable.
Maybe if she ever had a beau, she would know what it’s like to be in love and to want to spend your life with a person so much it almost hurts to spend days apart. Painfully shy, Eliza Jane felt most comfortable around her students.
“Almanzo, all I am saying is that if you fight for what you want, you should be sure Laura wants the same thing. This could go horribly wrong, and I don’t want to see you hurt.”
Almanzo’s shoulders drooped. How could he stay angry with the sister he had looked up to all his life? He strolled over and hugged her. “It will work out, Eliza Jane.”
The clock chimed seven times. “I best get Barnum and Skip hitched up. Can’t have the teacher being late for school.”
Almanzo plunked his hat on his head and marched out to the barn. As he hitched up his Morgans, he thought more on what his sister said. Could she be right? Would Laura choose her pa over me? He shook those thoughts from his mind. Laura loved him and he loved her. His plan would work out fine.
Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.