Monday, June 26, 2017

Separated: LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos


LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

The buggy carrying a wet, shivering couple arrived in front of the little house on Plum Creek. They were laughing as they talked through chattering teeth about Almanzo's tumble into the lake.

"I've never seen you so embarrassed," said Laura.

"It was only our second time out together and ya ended up drippin' wet," Almanzo replied.

"I don't care what happens as long as I'm with you."

He smiled at her, still amazed at how deep his feelings for her ran. Why hadn't he ever realized their immediate connection meant they were destined to be together?


"Get away from that window." Caroline wagged a finger at Charles.

He blushed. "I was just…"

"You were just spying on them."

Charles shrugged his shoulders. His wife knew him too well. It was hard to stand by and watch Almanzo Wilder take his place in Laura's heart. He shuffled over to the mantle and leaned against it, staring into the glowing embers of the fire. He felt Caroline slide her arms around his middle.

"Laura will always love you," she whispered. "No matter what other man comes into her life."

Charles turned around and faced her. He cupped her chin in his hands and said, "I love you," before placing a tender kiss on her lips.

The door clicked open and a wet Laura walked in.

"What on earth happened to you?" asked Caroline, rushing her daughter over to the fireplace.

"Almanzo and I fell in the lake."

"I thought he was taking you on a picnic not for a swim," teased Charles.

"Oh Pa!"

"Well, let's get you out of this wet dress," said Caroline. "We don't want you catching your death before you leave for Curry tomorrow."


Laura had almost forgotten about Curry. The joy of the day's events was now marred by the realities of life. After tomorrow, it would be an entire week before she saw Manly again. It would seem like forever.

The next morning after church services, Laura and Almanzo spent a few moments together. They avoided talking about being separated for the next five days.

"Laura, it's time to go," she heard Pa say.

"I'll pick ya up around three," said Almanzo.

She nodded. "I'll be ready."


Almanzo watched Laura walk to her pa's wagon. She glanced over at him before crawling into the back. His hat still in his hand, he stood there staring as Charles drove off.

Eliza Jane strolled over towards him and placed a hand on his shoulder. "The week will be over before you know it."

"Yeah," he replied, unconvinced. He plunked his hat on his head and moseyed over to his wagon.


A little before three Charles heard wagon wheels in his front yard. He stepped out of the barn and saw Almanzo's buggy in front of the house.

"Hi, Almanzo," he said with a genuine smile.

"Afternoon, Mr. Ingalls."

The boy didn't seem as upbeat as usual. "Something wrong?" Charles asked.

"No, it's nothin."

"You sure?"

Almanzo nodded. "Yeah, everythin's fine. Is Laura ready?"

"I don't know. Let's go inside and see."

Removing his hat, he followed Charles. Though he was taller than Laura's Pa, he knew how strong Charles was. He also knew he had a swift temper. Without thinking Almanzo rubbed his jaw. He certainly didn't have plans to anger Charles Ingalls again anytime soon. They stepped inside and were greeted by a wide smile.

"Hello, Almanzo," said Caroline.

"Howdy, Mrs. Ingalls."

"Laura's almost…" the sound of footsteps on the ladder interrupted her. "Never mind, there she is."

Laura stepped onto the floor and faced Almanzo with a look of excitement and sorrow. "Hi, Manly."

"Hi, Beth. Ya ready to go?"

"Just about." Caroline handed her a dinner pail full of food for the trip. "Thanks, Ma."


Laura walked up the steps to Miss Trimble's house. She turned to see Manly waving goodbye. She smiled and waved back. What a long week this was going to be. Miss Trimble pulled up in her wheelchair when Laura closed the front door.

"I was wonderin' if that young man was your beau," she said.

"He wasn't until this past Friday."

"Seems like a mighty fine birthday present."

Laura laughed. "It was."

"Well, ya gonna tell me all about it?"

"How about over supper? I want to put my things away and wash up."

"All right then, I'll get to cookin'."

"Sounds good, Minnie."

"Don't keep me in suspense too long," the older woman shouted down the hall.

The two teachers enjoyed a meal filled with tales of Almanzo. Laura felt for the first time that she could share her affection for him with someone other than her family. She told Minnie how she had called him Manly by mistake and how he nicknamed her Beth. She spoke of the past two years which were filled with disappointment as she tried to make him see her as something more than a young friend. Minnie smiled when Laura told her about the conversation with Almanzo in front of the schoolhouse after her first week in Curry and his asking her to the church social.

"I'm surprised ya didn't say yes when he asked," said Minnie.

"Ma told me not to seem too eager. She said men like to pursue."

"That they do," she chuckled.

"What about you, Minnie? Didn't you have any beaux pursuing you when you were my age?"

"More than enough, not that ya would think it to look at me now."

Laura sipped her tea and then dabbed her lips with a napkin.  "And you never wanted to get married?"

"Sure I did, just not as much as I wanted to teach." Minnie shrugged. "I kept hopin' I would find a man who would let me teach and be his wife too, but they don't make too many of those."

Laura enjoyed their friendship. Minnie had always treated her like an equal. They spoke as if they had known each other forever. It was fun to share stories of Almanzo with her.

"Minnie, I want to thank you for all you've done. I've learned a lot from you since I came here." She sighed. "I can't believe it will all be over at the end of next week."

"Don't think anythin' of it Laura." Minnie patted her hand. "We teachers have to stick together. But we've gotten off track, ya didn't tell me about the church social."

Laura laughed. She picked up her story where she left off, telling the older woman about the best night of her life.


The week had dragged on. Laura found herself distracted with thoughts of Almanzo. She had hoped he would pay her a surprise visit in the middle of the week, but he must have been busy. Thankfully it was Friday and school was almost over.

Ten minutes before three, Laura heard the sound of wheels in front of the school. As she glanced out the window, she saw Almanzo pulling up with Barnum.

"Since it's the weekend, I'm going to dismiss you a bit early today." The children hooped and hollered. She put up her hands to silence them. "I expect you'll use the extra time to study for the spelling bee on Monday morning. Don't forget to invite your parents."

After the children left, Laura rushed to clean up the classroom. Within a few minutes she heard footsteps on the porch and turned to see who was coming back in. Her eyes landed on Almanzo's smiling face. She noticed he had closed the door behind him.

She ran to him and threw her arms around his shoulders. "Oh Manly, I'm so happy to see you."

He twirled her around as he kissed her. "Aw, it's good to see ya, Beth. How'd your week go?"

"Good." She scanned the room. "I'm just about finished in here. I have to wipe down the chalkboards and fill up the coal pail next to the stove."

"I'll get the coal," he said.

A few minutes later, Laura shut the door and Almanzo helped her into in his buggy for the journey home.


It was nearly dark by the time Almanzo's buggy stopped in front of the Ingalls farm. Caroline and Charles rushed out to greet them.

"Where have you two been?" Caroline asked, concern etched into her face.

Laura and Almanzo looked at each other. She hoped her parents couldn't see her flushed cheeks. "Um…uh…you see, we lost a wheel and it took a while for him to put the new one on." She smiled at Manly, who said nothing.

"As long as you're both all right, that's all that matters," said Caroline. "Would you like to stay for supper, Almanzo?"

"No thank you, Ma'am. I'm sure Eliza Jane already has food on the table. I'll see ya tomorrow, Beth." Almanzo chirruped to Barnum and drove off.

"What's going on tomorrow?" asked Charles.

"Manly wants to take me to supper at Nellie's."

"You just saw one another and he'll be picking you up again on Sunday."

Caroline clasped her husband's arm. "Charles, I don't think driving Laura back and forth to work is the same thing as spending time together."

Knowing Ma understood how she felt warmed Laura's heart. "Please, Pa. We won't get back too late." She could tell he wanted to say no.

He pulled the pipe out of the corner of his mouth. "As long as your chores are done, you can go."

Laura hugged him. "Thanks, Pa." She ran into the house to bring her bag upstairs.


Charles shook his head. "Do you really think he lost a wheel?"

"Not for a second," Caroline said. "They probably got distracted on the way home. She was gone for a week and their courtship is still so new."

He nodded. "Almanzo wasn't the same while she was gone. He was moping around town like he had lost his best friend."

"He did."

"Oh come on now, Caroline, you don't think they're that serious yet, do you?"

There were days she couldn't believe how blind her husband could be. "Charles, she has been in love with Almanzo Wilder since the day she met him."

"But she's still so young."

She would need to choose her words carefully. Watching Laura grow up was especially hard on Charles. "Try not to worry so much. She has to experience life for herself...just like we did. I know we've prepared her well."

Charles smiled at his wife as he pulled her into an embrace. "I love you, Caroline Ingalls."

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reprint: Happy New Year! LHOP Inspired Fan Fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

This is a fan fiction story from the end of last year that I am posting again in honor of the new year. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy 2017 filled with blessings.

Happy New Year!

LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Laura rocked in her chair next to the fireplace. A quilt wrapped around her, she gazed into the yellow and orange flames of the roaring fire. How much longer?

The mantle clock chimed five times and anxiety bubbled inside her. She had no reason to be nervous. Manly made this trip in worse weather at least half a dozen times. But this was different. That was before they were married…before she moved into the tidy white house Almanzo used to share with his sister.

Through the glass she saw the darkening sky and heard the steady slap of wind blowing sleet against the window panes. He hadn’t told her when he would be home, but Manly never liked to be late for supper. A thick, hearty stew simmered on the stove. The freshly baked loaf of bread he enjoyed dipping into the gravy so he could scoop up every last drop had cooled by now. The smell of percolating coffee wafted from the kitchen.

She stood and pulled the quilt tight around her shoulders before trudging to the front window. The snow that had fallen yesterday hugged the sides of the barn and chicken coop where they met the ground. Today’s icy storm would make the roads slippery. Could Almanzo’s cutter have slid off the road? Laura couldn’t keep her mind from conjuring up an image of Manly trapped underneath his tipped over cutter in a ditch slowly freezing to death. She shuddered. No. It will do no good to think like that. He’ll be home any minute.

But he wasn’t home any minute.

She ate supper and he didn’t come.

She washed the dirty dishes and wrapped up the bread and he didn’t come.

She stoked the dying fire three times and still there was no sound of sleigh bells in the front yard. Oh, Manly, she thought as she looked out the window for what seemed like the thousandth time. Where are you?

By ten o’clock it was all Laura could do to keep herself from saddling up one of the horses to go out in search of her husband. She knew it made no sense. She could only assume he took the usual route home from Sleepy Eye. If the road were blocked or he had to seek shelter from the storm, she would have no idea where to find him. Frantic, she dashed upstairs to her bedroom and grabbed her Bible. Then going back to the chair in front of the fireplace, she turned up the kerosene lamp, snuggled into the quilt, and searched for the peace and comfort only the Bible’s pages could provide.

Laura found the passage right away. When she was still a child, Ma would recite this portion of Scripture before Pa left on any journey and every night until his safe return. It was a tradition she continued in her own home now that she was married. This was only the third time Almanzo had been away since their August wedding, but she found it especially lonely without him around the place. She took a deep breath and then recited slowly:

Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Her gazed lingered on the last line of the Psalm. She closed the Bible, leaving her right thumb in between the pages to hold her place. She breathed slow and steady, her eyelids suddenly heavy from lack of sleep.

A cold rush of air startled Laura awake.

“Were ya sleepin’?" a snow covered Almanzo asked from the front door.

She sprung up from the chair and ran over to embrace him. “Oh, Manly, I am so glad you’re home!” He chuckled as she pecked his cheek with kisses.

He tried to pull her arms away from his neck. “You’re going to be all wet.”

“I don’t care.”

“Well, at least let me take my coat and hat off.”

She stepped back. “Oh, I’m sorry.”

“I woulda come in through the back door to avoid this mess on the carpet, but it was iced shut.”

Laura fluttered her hands. “It doesn’t matter. I’m just glad you’re home safely.” She took his hat into the kitchen and shook the melting ice off in the sink. His dripping boots squished and thudded on the floor behind her as he walked into the room.

Pulling off his coat and the muffler that hung around his neck, he put the wet clothes on hooks by the back door so they could dry. Once Laura had placed his hat on another hook, he scooped her up in his arms.

“I’m sorry I was so late.” He planted a soft kiss on her forehead. “Had to wait for a shipment to arrive. I promised Mr. Crowley I would help him unload before I left.”

Leaning her head against his broad chest, she heard the thump, thump of his heart. “That’s okay. Are you hungry?” she asked, though she was sure she knew the answer.

“I’m starved.”

Laura pulled away. “I made beef stew—”

Before she knew what was happening, he had drawn her back to him and engulfed her with a deep kiss. Moments passed, and when they finally parted, Laura’s heart raced in her chest. “What was that for?”

“Listen,” he said. The clock chimed once, twice, and then ten more times, signaling the beginning of the new year. “Happy new year, Beth.”

“Happy new year, Manly.”

They kissed once more, whispering I love you to each other. The moment they parted a crooked smile turned the corner of his lips. “Can I have that stew now?”

“Oh, Manly!” She playfully slapped him before grabbing a bowl and spoon from the table. Everything had worked out fine, just as the Scripture had said. I pray this is a sign of a wonderful new year.

The End.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Brand New LHOP Fan Flash Fiction: The Clock by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

The Clock

LHOP inspired fan flash fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Disclaimer: I do not own the Little House on the Prairie television series, book series, or any of the characters.

Laura glanced up at the clock on the mantle when it chimed. Oh, how she enjoyed that beautiful present Manly had brought home the day before Christmas. She hadn’t expected any presents this Christmas. Just three weeks ago, Laura had given birth to a healthy girl. She didn’t remember much about the birth, but precious money had been spent on doctor bills and medicine. How could they afford such a beautiful clock?

“I traded a load of hay for it,” Manly told her. This put her mind at ease, especially when he told her he couldn’t have sold the load because they weren’t shipping any longer.

Nearly two feet tall, it had a sold walnut base and a glass door that covered a face wreathed with a gilt vine on which four gilt birds fluttered. Laura loved it at once.

“Whatcha thinkin’?” Almanzo said from his seat in the rocking chair across from her. His blue eyes twinkled and she could just see the uplifted corner of his crooked smile.

Laura snuggled little Rose next to her as the embers in the fireplace began to dwindle. “Just how thoughtful it was of you to buy the clock.”

“We needed it.”

She nodded. “That’s true. We could have done without something so elegant, though. It looks perfect on the mantle.” Laura sighed. “I know it’s wrong to pay too much attention to worldly things, but so many people have commented on it when they come to visit.”

Laura’s mind wandered through her childhood and she recalled Ma’s insistence that the place they lived wasn’t a home until the china shepherdess sat on the mantle. She finally understood what she meant. She wasn’t sure if they would always live here, but Laura was certain that the clock would find a place on any mantle in every spot she called home.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Little Town on the Prairie Most Iconic Book Set in South Dakota

Featured on MSN Lifestyle today is a list of "The Most Iconic Book Set In Every State." As I browsed through the slides I discovered many books I knew and some I didn't. When I landed on South Dakota, I discovered Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder won that honor. You can check it out here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Little House Myths at Discover Laura Blog

The Discover Laura Blog written by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, SD shared a post recently titled "Little House" Myths. Find out what myths they discussed at

Friday, September 16, 2016

Laura's "Sweet Memories" Historic Home Open House on Saturday, September 17!

Photo property of RE/MAX FARM & HOME

"Beautiful Victorian Folk home just off the town square of Mansfield, the hometown of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This home boasts 3,200 sq. ft. and sits on approx. 1/2 acre lot zoned for residential and/or commercial use. The home is made up of 4 large bedrooms, 3 baths(one bath has the original claw foot tub), parlor, (with classic rock fireplace), dining room, country kitchen, library, and antique shop( with large bay window). There are LOTS of closets and storage, beautiful original staircase, decks, and covered front porches. The whole house is served by central heat and air. There are many possibilities such as a B & B, coffee shop, store or personal residence. Call today to view this well preserved piece of history!"

Address:  107 N Business 60, Mansfield, MO 65704

Open House: September 17, 2016 from 11am-2pm

Listing Agent:  Andrew Koehn, RE/MAX FARM & HOME: (417) 926-5552, DIRECT: 417.349.2163