Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Father's Heart: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

 


A Father’s Heart

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.

 

            Charles peered through the front window, frost clinging to the edges of the window pane. Laura, Carrie, Albert, and Almanzo chased each other around the yard, scooping up handfuls of heavy, wet snow and hurling them at each other. 

            A vision of a young Half-pint, braids bouncing beneath her woolen cap as she ran around the front yard in the snow with her sisters flashed through Charles’s mind.  Where had the time gone? 

            Caroline’s gentle hand cupped his shoulder. “Seems like only yesterday Mary, Laura, and Carrie were having snowball fights of their own.” Her breath tickled his ear. 

            “Are you reading my mind again, Mrs. Ingalls?” 

            Caroline’s arms encircled his waist and she leaned her head on his shoulder. “No, just your face, Mr. Ingalls.” 

            Outside, Almanzo caught up with Laura, who had just nailed his shoulder with a large snowball that splattered across the back of his coat. He grabbed her around the middle and puller her into him, her giggles filtering through the glass into the house. Almanzo nuzzled her neck and her arms wrapped around him as she turned sideways for a kiss. 

            Charles’s heart ached as he watched them. They reminded him of many years ago when he and Caroline had been a young couple in love. But, more than that, he realized at this time next year Laura would no longer live in the little house on Plum Creek. She would celebrate her first Christmas with her new husband in a little house of her own. He sighed. 

            Caroline’s arms squeezed around his middle. “It will be strange without her.” 

            Charles nodded. “We learned to do it with Mary, and we’ll get used to Half-pint being gone too.” Caroline lifted her head and gazed at his profile, one corner of her mouth pulling into a smirk. “Though it might take a bit longer this time.” 

            Charles turned to face his wife. “At least I still have my favorite lady.” His lips captured hers for a tender moment. 

            “Laura chose a wonderful man… just like I did.” 

            Charles couldn’t argue with that. It surprised him how much he warmed up to Almanzo since Laura’s engagement. After all the help Almanzo had given Mary and Adam with the blind school, risking his own life to help out a family he owed nothing to, Charles was certain there was no man in Walnut Grove he would rather have as Laura’s husband. 

            The front door flew open and four giggling, breathless people marched inside, the ruckus waking Grace from her nap.

           “Warm yourselves by the fire,” said Caroline before disappearing into the bedroom. 

            Charles watched Almanzo help Laura out of her winter coat before removing his own things. “There’s some coffee on the stove.” 

            “Thank ya, sir.” Almanzo strolled into the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee for Laura and himself. 

            “Hey Laura,” Albert poked his sister’s side, “is Almanzo going to wait on you in your home too?” 

            “Don’t talk about Laura leaving,” Carrie whimpered from where she stood in front of the fireplace, rubbing warmth back into her hands. 

            Laura ran to her sister and hugged her tightly. “Oh, Carrie, it will be all right.” Laura rocked her sister back and forth. 

            Almanzo’s boots clomped across the floor. “Laura’s right.” Carrie’s tear-streaked face glanced up at him. “We’ll be living right outside town, and we’ll probably be here all the time.” 

            “Oh great! Just when I thought I would be getting some peace and quiet up in the loft.” Albert smiled at his sister, but Charles saw the sadness hiding in his eyes. 

            Albert and Laura had been nearly inseparable since the Ingalls family moved back to Walnut Grove. Having left town when times were tough and settling in Winoka, in Dakota Territory, the Ingalls family had stumbled upon Albert, an orphan living on the streets. The boy had instantly won their hearts. When the Ingalls family packed up to return home, they asked Albert to come with them. 

            Adopting Albert had legally secured his place in the Ingalls family, but even without the adoption, he was like their flesh and blood. Laura and he couldn’t have been closer if they truly were brother and sister. 

            Laura planted a hand on one hip. “You best remember who grades your papersm little brother.” 

            “How can you call him your little brother when he’s taller than you?” asked Carrie. 

            The room erupted with laughter as Caroline entered the room with Grace leaning against her hip. 

            Caroline placed Grace in her highchair while the others pulled out chairs to sit down at the table. “Dinner is almost ready.” She strolled to the stove and lifted the cover of the pot. Breathing in deeply, she smiled and then stirred the contents with a spoon. 

            Carrie sat down opposite Laura, her eyes still blinking back the tears that swam in her eyes. Laura reached across the table. Carrie’s outstretched arms met her halfway and Laura squeezed her sister’s hands. 

            “Once we’re settled in the new place,” said Laura, “you can come over as often as you like.” 

            “Really?” 

            “Sure. You can even sleep over… as long as it’s okay with Ma and Pa.” 

            Carrie’s eyes widened and her smile revealed a mouth with a few missing teeth. “I’d like that.” 

            Charles rapped his knuckles on the table. “If you ladies are done talking about leaving, I’m starving.” 

            They giggled.  “Sorry, Pa.” 

            His eyes twinkled and he cast a wink in Laura’s direction, but shifted in his seat, the pain of Laura’s imminent departure still tugging at his heart. 

            Caroline placed the last plate of food on the table and sat down. The chatter stopped and everyone bowed their heads. As Charles began to thank the Lord for the bounty of food, he risked a glance at his beloved daughter and her betrothed. They had such dreams and plans that he couldn’t help but be taken in by all the excitement, but he knew it would be hard to let her go, even to a man who had earned his admiration and respect. 

            Before ending his prayer, Charles paused for a moment to silently ask the Lord to give him strength as Laura graduated from daughter to wife; just as he prayed for the courage to leave Mary behind in Winoka, where he would no longer be able to protect her. Caroline and he had prepared their daughters well, but that did not ease his desire to keep Laura from all the heartbreaks he knew would come to her as a farmer’s wife. 

            Caroline’s gentle smile met his face, as if, again, she knew his thoughts. “They’ll be fine,” her eyes seem to say. 

            Charles swallowed away the lump that had formed in his throat. “Amen.” 

            The conversation immediately picked up where it had left off and plates passed around the table. Charles’s heart swelled with pride when his eyes took in his family and Almanzo, who sat between him and Laura. He had gotten used to seeing Almanzo around the dinner table, and the nights the young man wasn’t with them, Charles felt something wasn’t quite right, as if the family could no longer be complete without him. 

            Charles said one more silent prayer before digging into his plate of food. Thank you, Lord, for blessing Laura with such a special man. Amen.

 

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Sister's Advice: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

 


A Sister’s Advice

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.

 

            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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Character Profiles--Who Should I Cover Next?

Following the stats on Laura's Little Houses, I see that the character profiles I've done capture a fair amount of attention. So far I have profiled:











Now, you will get to choose which character I profile next. Here are your choices:



Charles Ingalls


Caroline Ingalls


Reverend Alden


Doc Baker


Nels Oleson


Harriet Oleson


Leave a comment on this post to let me know who you would like to see profiled next. Thanks for helping.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

I Feel Your Pain Charles Ingalls



In the episode "100 Mile Walk," a hailstorm destroys Charles Ingalls' wheat crop. A devastating event for the family, months of work tending his wheat crop has been destroyed in a matter of minutes.

This week, Tropical Storm Isaias traveled up the east coast leaving destruction in its path. You can see photos of downed trees and power lines from around us in these photos. We were without power for a little more than 24 hours, but the arbor fell into the garden and uprooted the grape vine I've been tending. The branches had finally gotten large enough to start wrapping around the arbor, so I figured within the next couple of years we might have grapes. My tomato plants took a beating, too, but it's the destruction of the grape vine that breaks my heart. Thankfully, it doesn't mean I can't feed my family, like it did for Charles.

I can admit that I'll never be a master gardener. I don't have enough time to dedicate to the daily tasks of tending the plants, nourishing the soil, and  weeding. I think of working toward becoming self-sustaining, but don't know how I would manage it by myself. I've even started looking at chicken coops--which I swore would never happen.

It's hard, however, to be so susceptible to the whims of Mother Nature. How did Charles Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder do it? How do today's farmers do it?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Together Again: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos



Together Again

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 strolled through the open door to the barn and found Pa pulling the harness off the wall.

“Thought you were heading over to Almanzo’s this morning, Half-pint.” Charles marched toward her, harness in hand. He smiled at Laura and motioned for her to follow him to the wagon. “I wish I could ride you over to Almanzo’s,” he said, adjusting the harness. “But I’m heading in the opposite direction.”

She shrugged, not feeling in any great hurry to get there. “That’s okay. I don’t mind walking.” She put down her books and dinner pail in the bed of the wagon.

Laura watched him work, staring as if she had never seen him hitch up the team before. Charles looked up at her a few times, but mostly his eyes focused on his work. When he came around to the other side of the wagon, he stopped and rested his hand against the front wheel.

“Something on your mind, Half-pint?”

Laura lowered her gaze to her fingers that nervously fumbled with the string of her bag. “I saw you talking to Almanzo last night.”

“U-huh.”

“Well…uh…” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “You seemed happy.”

Charles nodded. “I am. The boy just recovered from a serious illness.”

Laura’s hands traveled to her hips and she shifted all her weight onto her left leg. Doesn’t he remember what Almanzo did to me? Her mouth creased into a frown. “Aren’t you angry for what he did?”

Charles’s eyebrows rose and fell as he nodded. “Oh, that’s what this is all about.”

Laura’s eyes widened. “What?” She saw the smile coming before it appeared on his face.

“You think I should hold what he did against him.”

She titled her chin downward  “No,” she said, her voice barely louder than a whisper. Is it awful that I hoped Pa could understand?

Charles placed one hand on each of her shoulders and stared the kind of stare that only a father about to impart years of wisdom and life experience could give. Beads of sweat dotted her forehead and she was certain she wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“Half-pint, Almanzo made a mistake. He let his anger get the best of him, and he allowed that anger to guide him in making a decision.” He shrugged. “He probably realized it almost as soon as he got to Sleepy Eye.”

Laura sighed. Why are men so difficult to understand? “Then why didn’t he come right home?”

Charles’s chuckle made Laura’s anger bubbled up inside her. There was nothing funny in all of this. How could he be so insensitive to her feelings?

“Why didn’t you go apologize to Almanzo after he ate that cinnamon chicken like your ma told you to?”

He just had to bring that up. As if apologizing to Almanzo wasn’t enough, it reminded her of how long it took her to convince Almanzo she wasn’t a little girl, and how he threw it right back in her face when she refused to run away with him.

Charles’s firm grip clasped both her arms. “Because you were embarrassed and not ready to admit your mistake. Right?”

His words pounded through her head as she tried to block them out. Almanzo had hurt her. Naturally, she felt angry. Laura nodded, but couldn’t meet her father’s gaze.

“Half-pint, I’m not saying I like what Almanzo did.” He lifted her chin so she was forced to look him in the eye. “I’m just saying that I understand why he did it.”

She nodded halfheartedly and then gazed out over the field behind the house. “I have to get over to Manly’s.” Her voice ragged from containing her emotions, she cleared her throat before picking her books and dinner pail.

Charles caressed her hair and smiled before Laura turned around and headed down the road to the Wilder farm.

*

Laura collapsed onto her bed in an exhausted heap as soon as she slid her nightgown over her head. She couldn’t remember the last time she worked so hard.

After cleaning out the stables and feeding the stock at Almanzo’s, she taught classes during the afternoon while Miss Wilder graded papers. Then she walked back to the Wilder farm for afternoon chores followed by homework after supper. Every muscle ached. How will I get up tomorrow morning?

It seemed like only moments had passed when the sun snuck in through the cracks in the shutters and teased her eyelids open. Stretching and yawning, Laura dressed and fixed her hair. She heard the clattering of Ma’s pans at the cook stove and raced down the ladder so she could talk to her for a few minutes before her siblings awoke.

“Good morning, Laura.” Caroline’s radiant smile already beamed on her face. “I hope I didn’t wake you.”

Laura shook her head. “I needed to get up anyway.” She grabbed her apron from the peg next to where her Ma’s apron hung when not in use. Tying it around her waist, she walked to the cupboard to remove the plates.

“Where’s Pa?” she asked, entering the kitchen with the stack of plates and putting them down on the table next to the stove.

Caroline cracked one egg after the other on the rim of a glass bowl before pulling apart the shells with one hand and stirring a pot of oats with the other. “In the barn.”

Laura wandered into the other room and pulled the cups out of the cupboard and placed one in front of each seat at the table. “Ma?” she called with a sense of timidity. A “yes” floated through the doorway between the kitchen and the front room. “How did you feel when Pa left the Big Woods and you didn’t know where he was?”

For a few seconds, all Laura heard was a flurry of activity in the kitchen. She strolled to the doorway and leaned against the jamb. Laura watched the precision with which her mother worked. Caroline would have everything on the table together, steaming hot, by the time Pa came back from the barn, just like every morning.

“Hurt and angry.” Caroline answered. “Sometimes more one than the other.” Caroline poured the beaten eggs into a heated pan and waited for the edge to form along the sides of the pan before scraping the eggs together.

Laura moved to stir the pot of bubbling oats. Caroline glanced at her with a raised eyebrow that seemed to tell Laura to move out of the way. Laura stepped back to the front room and brought down the container of molasses to sweeten the oatmeal. Placing it in the middle of the table, she searched for something else to do. Peeking into the kitchen, she saw that Caroline, as always, had everything under control. So, she decided staying out of the way was probably her best plan of action…especially if she wanted Ma’s advice.

“Did you forgive Pa right away?” Laura hoped she knew the correct answer to this question. It would be horrible if no one understood how she felt about Almanzo abandoning her.

“Yes, I forgave him.” Laura’s heart fell. “But it wasn’t easy to forget what he did.”

Finally! Laura straightened as her confidence grew. “What did you do?”

Caroline moved the frying pan full of eggs away from the heat and covered it to keep the food warm. Then she did the same with the pot of oatmeal. Wiping her hands off on her apron, she sat down at the table and motioned for Laura to join her.

“By the time your pa came back, I already knew I wanted to spend my life with him. You see, unlike you, I wasn’t so sure about getting married. I knew your pa wanted to move west, and that meant no schools and no churches.”

Caroline folded her arms in front of her and leaned them on the table. Laura always enjoyed hearing stories of Ma’s and Pa’s younger days before they were married. The stories helped Laura imagine Ma and Pa as children, and when Ma spoke of their courtship, it allowed Laura to see that maybe they went through some of the same things she and Almanzo did.

“It also meant more of a risk to our safety, and I wasn’t ready for that. That caused most of our arguments.”

Caroline smiled and gazed wistfully around her. “But as soon as I realized how much I loved your pa, none of that mattered. What did trouble me,” she pointed a finger on the table’s surface, “was that he had left me, and I never knew if he planned to return. I wasn’t sure if I could put that aside.”

Tears formed in the corners of Laura’s eyes. She knew exactly how Ma must have felt. Why do men do such things? “Ma, I love Almanzo.”

Caroline slid her hand across the table and laid it over Laura’s. “I know you do.”

“But it seemed like I didn’t even matter to him when he took off for Sleepy Eye. He tossed away the plans we had made just because he didn’t get his way. I know he hurt, too, but how do I know he’ll never leave again?”

“There aren’t any guarantees in life, Laura.”

Tears slid down Laura’s cheeks and Caroline leaned over the table to embrace her. She tucked a tendril of hair that had escaped her bun behind Laura’s ear.

“Almanzo made a hasty decision and, because of that, you got hurt; but I think the fact that he helped Mary and Adam with the blind school shows how important you are to him.”

Laura heard rustling upstairs and knew Albert would be down soon. Caroline stood up and Laura followed her into the kitchen.

Caroline scooped eggs onto a plate and plunked a piece of the corn bread she had made yesterday next to them. “Now you’re going to have to decide which is greater—your love for Almanzo or your fear of getting hurt.”

“Oh, Ma. What should I do?” Desperation clung to her words as she gazed with pleading eyes at her mother.

Caroline handed her a plate of food to carry to the table. “That’s a decision only you can make.”

*

The Wilder farm came into view and Laura slowed her pace. The barn door hung open, and as she entered the yard she could see a tall, lean figure raking out a stall. His joyful whistling blended into the animal noises surrounding him.

“Trying to teach the animals to sing?” Laura teased from the doorway.

His head spun around and he smiled. “You wanna give it a try?”

A laughed escaped her lips and she shook her head. “I think I’ll leave that for you.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “What are you doing?”

He shrugged as if she had asked a ridiculous question. “Looked like you were running late, so I started without ya.”

“Almanzo Wilder.” Her tapping foot swirled dirt around her feet. “Your doctor ordered no farm work for a week, and I intend to see that you follow those orders.”

His crooked smile crept across his face. She always loved that smile. Sometimes it meant he was being mischievous and other times it hid his embarrassment. This time it definitely meant the former.

“And just how do you plan on doing that?”

The heat rose up her cheeks, turning them red. “I’m serious, Almanzo. I almost lost you. I won’t let that happen again.”

As she spoke, he slowly closed the gap between them. Pulling off his work gloves, he reached up and caressed her cheek. “That does sound serious.”

His sudden closeness left her senses reeling. Her chest tightened, breathing suddenly hard. She tried to moisten her lips, but her mouth was as dry as a shriveled plant left to burn in the sun.

Laura swallowed away the lump in her throat. “Manly, please.”

His blue eyes remained steady, staring deeply into hers. They seemed frozen there, standing in Almanzo’s barn, reading one another’s hearts. When at last he broke the silence, his voice sounded raspy and barely a whisper.

“Just for you.” He cupped her chin and leaned down to place a lingering kiss on her lips.

He leaned the rake against the barn wall and tossed his gloves down on the shelf. Without another word he walked out of the barn toward the house. Laura watched his long, thin body moving almost as smoothly as normal. If she hadn’t seen his left leg wobbling as he climbed the porch steps, she would have sworn he had never been sick. Is he being strong for me?

*

When Laura entered the dining room searching for Almanzo, she found a cup of steaming tea waiting for her on the table. Had he been watching from the window? Almanzo appeared in the doorway leading from the dining room into the kitchen.

“Why don’t you sit down and relax a minute before heading off to school?”

Laura pulled out the chair in front of the cup of tea and sat down.

“Mind if I join you?”

She motioned to the chair to her right as she sipped the hot liquid from the cup. She suddenly felt eyes behind her followed by the muffled sound of high-heeled boots across the carpeted parlor.

“Good morning, Laura,” Eliza Jane said as she entered.

Eliza Jane’s hands full of books, the bag she carried with her to school every day hung on her arm. “It’s such a lovely day,” she said. Her eyes focused on Laura’s face. “I think I’ll walk to school this morning.”

She placed a hand on Laura’s shoulder. “Now, don’t worry if you’re running a bit late. I’ve scheduled you to teach classes after lunch.”

Eliza Jane’s skirt twirled as she sashayed out of the room toward the front door. “Have a good day,” she sang before the door clicked shut.

Almanzo and Laura laughed.

“Well that was subtle,” he said. He reached across the table and grasped her hand in his. “Maybe it’s time we talk.”

Laura turned away, a feeling of dread filling her every thought. Her shoulders rose and fell. “I really don’t know what to say.”

The beginnings of a crooked smile appeared on his face. “Well, then, why don’t you let me give it a try.” He breathed deeply and leaned his elbows against the table. “I feel like something has changed between us.”

With her arms crossed and resting on the table’s surface, she nodded. “It has.”

Her words sounded harsh and she feared he might misunderstand her feelings.  Making a point to soften her tone, she blinked three or four times before being able to gaze up at him. “I still love you, and I still want to be your wife. I just don’t know if I can forget how much you hurt me.”

Almanzo straightened in his chair, defenses up. She placed a hand quickly over his.

“How much we hurt each other. How do we get by it, Manly?”

“One day at a time, like most folks.” His chair scrapped the floor as he moved closer. “Beth, I can’t promise I won’t ever hurt you again. I can’t make promises that are impossible to keep.” He lifted her chin and his eyes penetrated her with their sincerity. “All I can promise is that I’ll never try to hurt you.”

Laura remained silent for several seconds. Glancing around the room, she looked as if she might find the answer on the wall. “We’re still going to have to wait two years to get married. Are you all right with that?”

“Don’t have much of a choice, now, do I?”

A giggle escaped her lips. “No.”

His smile returned and he leaned closer. Laura felt the warmth of his breath on her face.

“I love you, Beth.”

Before she could respond, his lips captured hers with several soft, tender kisses. Their foreheads leaning against each other, Laura’s fears began to melt away.

“I love you, too, Manly.”

Her lips sought his. School, the farm, and the whole world momentarily forgotten as they lingered in their kiss.

“Almanzo?”

“U-huh?”

“I still can’t promise to obey.”

The laughter started deep inside him. She could hear him struggling to contain it, but it became louder and his face reddened until he finally inhaled deeply and the laughter filled the room until he had to grip his aching sides.

“I certainly wouldn’t be foolish enough to expect you would.”

Laura’s arms folded over her chest. What does he mean by that?

“Aw, Beth,” he said. "Don’t you know by now that I love you just the way you are?" He smirked. "Houston says that you are plumb feisty.”

She could hear the harrumph in her voice. “Thanks a lot.”

Almanzo shrugged. “He’s right. Seems I’ve been on the receiving end of that myself a few times.” Laura’s face turned crimson. “All that means is that nothing is ever gonna keep you down, and you won't let anything stand in your way.”

He cupped her chin and leaned in closer. “Seems like good traits for a farmer’s wife.”

Laura laughed at herself. What’s wrong with being feisty anyway? It had certainly allowed her to keep up with Nellie Oleson all these years. A mischievous grin slid across her face. “What if I don’t want to be a farmer’s wife?”

“Well, then, you best be getting yourself a new man, because God made me to be a farmer.”

Her hand reached up and touched his cheek. “I guess I’m destined to be a farmer’s wife then, because there is no one in the whole world for me, but you, Manly.”

Their lips connected and sparks shot through her. Being this close to him always left her in a daze. It seemed like months since she felt that connection to him. Things will be just fine between us.

Laura stood up and planted a quick kiss on his cheek before refilling their tea cups. Then the conversation started—that easy kind of talk about anything and everything that had been missing since he went away. He told her about the plans he had for the farm before winter, and she shared the challenges of being a fellow student and a teacher to her classmates, many of whom she had known for years. Eventually they would have to drive into town but, for now, Laura settled in to spend time with Almanzo so that the healing could begin.


Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Book Review: The Beautiful Snow by Cindy Wilson

If you're a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Little House books, or pioneer history, you'll want to grab a copy of The Beautiful Snow by Cindy Wilson.

If you've read the Little House books, you will recall The Long Winter, where Wilder describes the winter of 1880 - 81 and her family's struggle to survive when blizzards from October through April cut off the railroad town of De Smet, SD from essential supplies.

Wilson's thoroughly researched account of that hard winter, weaves history through Wilder's fictionalized tale, focusing on the weather, the railroads, and the pioneering spirit that kept the settlers holding on until the trains finally arrived in May.

Wow! What a book. It's not a book I could read in one or even two sittings. Wilson does a fabulous job of providing so much information that you need time to digest it.

The introductions and background set the stage for a month by month journey through that hard winter of 1880-81. Each month starts off with a calendar that shows weather reports compiled by various newspaper articles. The Beautiful Snow brings you through that period of American history as settlers were wooed into moving west and following the railroad, all to be stranded on the unforgiving prairie once the blizzards started. Historical figures, maps, photos, and informative sidebars add to the reading experience, truly immersing you in the time period. The epilogue and various appendices provide additional information that rounds out this account perfectly.

Though I definitely believe this is a book for Wilder fans, history lovers and those interested in the history of the American railroads will enjoy The Beautiful Snow. I will treasure this book as part of my ever-growing Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.

Highly recommended!


Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press (February 7, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1643439057
ISBN-13: 978-1643439051

I purchased a copy of this book in January 2020. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Book Review: Ketty Lester: From The Cotton Fields To Grammy Nominated "Love Letters" to Little House on the Prairie by Revoyda F. Buckley

For fans of Little House on the Prairie, she is known as Hester-Sue Terhune. To her family, she is Re-V or Vorda--a unique name given to a talented woman who had careers as a pop/R&B singer and an actress in movies and television.

Ketty Lester: From The Cotton Fields To Grammy Nominated "Love Letters" to Little House on the Prairie brings you through Buckley's beginnings as the fifteenth child to a farming family, to leaving home and attending college for nursing, to her performing in clubs as Ketty Lester and recording records, to her acting career which spanned decades.

Told in a style as if you were sitting across the table with Buckley asking her about her life, you discover she has loved and lost, she has known the challenges of having a career in a competitive industry, she dealt with discrimination and unequal pay, and she has met and worked with other amazing industry professionals.

This is a story told in chronological order which includes several pictures, her filmography, and discography.  This autobiography held nothing back. It will make you admire and feel compassion for Buckley. Though she is now retired, her mark on music and film remains.

As a fan of Little House on the Prairie, I am glad I read this story. I learned more about this talented woman than I knew before. Though the editor in me wanted a more polished version of the story, I totally believe that there is a lot to be said for being true to yourself and telling an authentic story in your own way, which is just what Buckley did.

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher:  Elite Publishing House (April 20, 2020)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0578662337
ISBN-13: 978-0578662336

I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. This review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated for in any way.