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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Going Home: LHOP inspired fan fiction by Cheryl C. Malandrinos




Going Home

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 little house on Plum Creek finally came into view. Laura and Almanzo had traveled all day and her body ached. She longed to stretch out on her bed. Almanzo would probably collapse soon after he arrived home.

“Whoa!” Almanzo called to his Morgans, pulling them to a stop in front of the Ingalls homestead. Wrapping the reins around the braking bar, he turned to get down from the wagon seat.

 Laura tugged at his arm. “That’s all right. I’ll get my own bag.”

“Beth,” he began his complaint.

Her brows furrowed. “Manly, you’re recovering from pneumonia. The doctor told you not to do too much. You better listen to him.”

Almanzo raised his hand to his forehead in a mock salute. “Yes, Sir.”

They laughed together, but Laura wanted him to know she took the doctor’s orders seriously. The thought of how she almost lost him remained fresh in her mind. They would take no chances.

“I mean it, Almanzo.” She caressed his cheek. “I don’t want you to go back to taking care of the farm too soon.”

He shook his head and his wide eyes looked at her as if she had sprouted another head. “Eliza Jane’s been taking care of the farm all by herself for weeks now. Who knows what needs fixing.”

Why is he always so stubborn? Laura clasped her hands around his. This wasn’t a matter for discussion. He would just have to listen to her.

“I’ll talk to Pa. If he says it’s okay, I’ll come over in the morning and help with the chores. You can drive me into school with your sister. Then we can go back to your place after school, and I’ll do what I can.”

His mouth pulled into a thin line. “That’s plumb ridiculous. You’re not gonna help me run my farm.”

She planted her hands on her hips. “Aren’t I going to help you with the farm once we’re married?”

Almanzo’s eyes scrunched into mere slits. He removed his hat and ran his fingers through a mass of wavy blonde hair. “Yes, but we’re not married yet. Besides, ya got your own chores to do.”

“Albert will be more than happy to do my chores for a couple more weeks until you get your strength back.” She smiled. “My family owes you a lot.”

He slapped his leg hard. His breathing became more labored. He coughed and coughed, his face reddening. Laura felt her heart pounding in her chest. Within moments, the coughing fit passed.

Almanzo exhaled as slowly and as deeply as he could, then wiped the sweat from his brow. “That’s why I don’t want you helping me. I didn’t help with the rent so that you would have to be nice to me.”

Laura reached for his hand and kissed it. “No, you did it because you’re an honorable man…and because you love me.”

Yes, she knew he loved her. She loved him, too. But could she trust him again? Could she have faith in him again?

“That’s why I can’t understand how you could leave. It wasn’t honorable or responsible.”

Almanzo fiddled with the rim of his hat. He had done the same thing the day he had asked her to the church social. Why couldn't they go back to that day and keep all the bad things from happening?

“I told you, I couldn’t go on pretending that I agreed with your pa. I didn’t want to wait. You said you didn’t want to wait, and I couldn’t reason with him.” His gaze looked out in front of him, staring at nothing in particular. “I felt I had failed you. Failed us.”

“But I—“ she began, but he put up his hand to silence her.

Placing his hat back on his head, he clasped both her hands in one of his. “Can’t you understand? I couldn’t stay here after your pa said no. I would see him in town and at church services. We would both know we didn’t agree, but I would have to pretend like we did. I fought for what I wanted and failed.”

Laura swiped her hands away and jumped off the wagon seat. “Will you stop saying that!”

Darkness had fallen since they arrived and Laura could see people walking back and forth in the front room window. Ma must be having a hard time keeping Pa inside.

Laura rubbed at the tension behind her eyes. Almanzo slid over to her side of the wagon seat and climbed down. Clasping both her shoulders, he gazed down on her freckled face.

“It was time for me to start deciding what I wanted out of life and going after it.” His hands slid down her arms and he wound his fingers around hers. “I just thought we wanted the same thing.”

She squeezed his hands as the tears swam in her eyes. When she glanced at him, she saw pain staring back at her. “Oh, Manly! I want all those things…and I want them with you.” She reached up and caressed his cheek. “But I couldn’t do what you asked me to do.”

Laura worked hard to keep her tone from sounding confrontational. He had hurt her, but more than wanting him to feel sorry, she needed him to understand why she said no.

“We were making plans to live here where our families and friends are, but suddenly the plans changed and I had no say in it. We had no land and no home. It felt like we were running off to get married just to spite Pa.” She anticipated an objection, but he said nothing. “I didn’t make a choice between you and Pa because there really wasn’t a choice. I have school and chores here. My family is here. I didn’t want to leave them without giving it a lot of thought, but you wanted an answer right away." She shrugged. "I didn’t have one.”

Almanzo looked through their clasped hands at the ground and nodded. He exhaled deeply, and Laura was relieved to not hear any sign of wheezing.

“I guess that wasn’t much of a choice. I just didn’t wanna wait.” He tucked a tendril of hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry for what I said that day. I never should of called you a little girl. I was just so sure you’d say yes that when you didn’t, I got angry.”

Laura turned away. Hundreds of twinkling stars filled the night sky. Wringing her hands, she knew she had to make her feelings known, but she didn’t want to risk another fight. The full moon shone high above them and wisps of clouds floated overhead.

When she worked up the courage to face him, she saw the moon's brightness reflecting in the blue of his eyes. Taking a step toward him, she continued wringing her hands.

“Manly, I need you to know something. I probably should have told you this before I accepted your proposal, but I…I was too excited.”

The smile disappeared from his face and he went suddenly pale. She felt sure his knees wobbled when he casually leaned against the wagon.

He swallowed hard. “What is it?”

Laura felt warm under her coat. Beads of sweat formed at the small of her back and the collar of her dress seemed to be cutting off the air. She undid the first two buttons of her coat and tried to slow her breathing, which had unconsciously quickened. Her mouth felt as dry as the sun baked laundry. Licking her lips, she took a deep breath.

“I can’t promise to obey you. I’ll always love and cherish you, but I can’t promise to obey. Maybe that worked for your ma and mine, but I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep. I have my own mind and I don’t plan to submit it.”

His laugh rose up from his belly and exited his mouth with such force that soon he doubled over and began coughing. Even as he coughed he continued to laugh. Laura stood in front of him with her arms crossed over her chest. What is so funny?

Laura opened her mouth to protest, but Almanzo waved her off as he shook his head. He finally stood straight up and wiped the moisture from his eyes.

“I had never noticed that about you.” He chuckled.

Laura’s foot tapped the ground. With raised eyebrows and pursed lips she glared at him. “Almanzo Wilder—“

He pulled her into him with both hands and held her close. Kissing the top of her head, she couldn’t help but notice how wonderful it felt to be in his arms again. Their foreheads now touching each other, he gazed into her eyes.

“I wouldn’t have you any other way.” He captured her lips with his.

The entire world disappeared as they kissed, her legs weakening as she leaned into him.

“I love ya, Beth,” he whispered into her ear.

“I love you too, Manly.” She laid her head against his chest and smelled the faint scent of hay on his coat. He’ll always be a farmer.

Laura knew their time was almost up. It amazed her that Ma had managed to keep Pa inside this long. She walked to the back of the wagon and grabbed her bag.

“Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?” she asked.

“No, thanks. I best be getting home. I’m tired. And, I don’t think I’m your Pa’s favorite person right now.”

“You’re wrong, Almanzo. Leaving me the way you did made Pa angry, but after what you’ve done to help with the blind school he doesn’t feel that way anymore.”

“Dagburnit, Beth!” He pounded his fist against the back of the wagon. “I didn’t do it for that.”

She put a hand over his heart. “I know you didn’t. All I’m saying is that Pa admires and respects what you did. When he came back from Sleepy Eye that night to tell me you were sick, he said that you were a very special man who must have a great deal of love for me.” Her beaming smile expressed her own feelings. “Believe me, he knows why you did it.”

Moments later the front door opened and Charles walked out. Laura could hear Ma’s protests behind him.

“Evening, Almanzo.” A pipe hung from a corner of Charles’s mouth. He extended his arm to Almanzo and they shook hands.

“Evening, Mr. Ingalls.” Almanzo glanced behind him. “Mrs. Ingalls.”

Caroline squeezed Charles’s arm. “I’m sorry Laura. We are just anxious to see you.”

Laura could barely hold back the laughter bubbling inside. “That’s okay, Ma. Almanzo was just heading home.”

Caroline nodded. “Thank you for driving her home, Almanzo. I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.”

A smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “Thank you, Mrs. Ingalls.”

Almanzo cupped Laura's elbow. “I really need to get home.” He pecked her cheek and said goodnight to Charles and Caroline.

Laura noticed his walk seemed much slower and his left leg trembled a bit. She placed a hand over his as he reached up for the wagon seat. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay in our soddy tonight?”

“Naw, I’ll be all right. Beside, Eliza Jane is expecting me. She might get to worrying if I don’t come home.”

She released his hand and stepped back so he could climb up. Almanzo waited a couple seconds before pulling himself onto the seat. He seemed relieved to be sitting again.

“I’ll be by in the morning,” said Laura, reminding him of their deal.

Charles removed the pipe from his mouth. “What’s going on tomorrow?”

Laura turned to face her father. “I promised Manly that I would help him around the farm until he gets his strength back.”

Charles's gaze took in one and then the other before he nodded. “That’s fine.”

Caroline circled an arm around Laura’s shoulders. “Good to see you again, Almanzo,” she said as the two women walked toward the house.

Laura glanced back at Almanzo and her father in the yard. She knew Pa wanted a moment to talk to Almanzo alone. Is that a good thing or a bad one? She waved at Almanzo and followed her mother into the house.

She watched from the window of the front room; the same window she knew her pa had been watching them from ever since she and Almanzo had pulled into the yard. Almanzo smiled and nodded at Pa. The two men shook hands and Almanzo prompted his team toward home.

Laura felt blessed to have two men who loved her so much, but at times it made life challenging. She wondered if Pa would change his mind about making them wait to get married. She certainly didn't plan to bring it up. Telling Almanzo that she couldn’t promise to obey helped ease her anxiety. At least he knew how she felt.

The pain of Almanzo’s rejection still lingered, but she hoped after talking it out they could work together to get by it. Almanzo had been hurt, too, and maybe this was the kind of situation that could help prepare them to be married one day. In the meantime, they could make plans and think about the future…a future that included her becoming Mrs. Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.