[wave2]I'm moving several of my fan fics from the old board to here, along with their comments.
"These Happy Golden Years" is probably my favorite of all the LH books, and this year I got to thinking of how could it be interwined with Laura and Almanzo's relationship on the TV show. This is what I came up with...it was fun to write, but I'm not sure how well at did at mixing the 2 storylines...read on to see what I mean ;) The Christmas PresentDisclaimer: Some passages quoted from "These Happy Golden Years" by Laura Ingalls Wilder
“You gonna sleep all day?” Albert’s voice came from beyond the curtain.
His older sister, Laura, pulled the covers over her head. “Can I sleep through the next three months?” she mumbled.
“What?” Albert moved the curtain aside and stepped onto his sister’s part of the loft they shared.
Reluctantly, Laura moved the covers. “I just don’t want to face today,” she said with a sigh. The day before has been wonderful; it was Thanksgiving and her family had spent it all snug and cozy in their little house on the banks of Plum Creek. Laura’s beau, Almanzo, or Manly as she called him, had been there for dinner too. Laura and Almanzo had just gotten engaged that past Spring. For Laura, it was a tumultuous time filled with emotions. She was young and starry-eyed at the idea of being engaged. Yet sometimes she worried if she could be a good wife. She had no idea how to be a wife. But she knew she had time to figure it out; her father has told Almanzo he would have to wait until Laura was seventeen to marry her.
Now they planned to be married next spring, after Laura’s birthday. But it was only the end of November and that very day, Almanzo was taking his sister, Eliza Jane, home to visit their parents in Minnesota. They would spend Christmas there and return in February, weather permitting. If the winter was a snow-filled one, they might not return until a month or two later than that. She knew Almanzo hadn’t seen his family since he’d moved to Walnut Grove a year earlier, but at the same time, she didn’t think she could bear being separated from him for so long, especially at Christmas.
These thoughts tumbled through Laura’s head as her brother sat down beside her. “I know you’re gonna miss Almanzo, but he’s not going away forever. Besides, by this time next year, you’ll be married and planning Christmas in your own house.”
“I know, Albert. Thank you,” Laura said. “It’s just…I don’t know. It’s like I’m not looking forward to Christmas knowing Manly won’t be here to share it with.”
“Laura!” her mother, Caroline, called from downstairs. “Almanzo’s here!”
“Land’s sakes!” Laura threw back her covers and jumped up. “He said they were getting an early start but I didn’t think this early. It’s barely six!” She shooed Albert out of the loft and quickly put on her closest dress. She jumped towards the table and wished desperately for a wash bowl. “I can’t possibly fix my hair,” she mumbled to herself, rubbing her cheeks with her hands. Lastly, she tugged her hairbrush through her long brown hair.
“Laura?” Caroline called again.
“Ow! I mean, coming, Ma.” Quickly, she pulled the brush away from the tangle it had snagged on and grabbed her shawl. “Ready or not,” she said, taking a deep breath. Then she was off, scrambling down the ladder. She dashed past Eliza Jane, who was sipping a cup of coffee with Laura’s parents, and out the door, where Almanzo stood waiting by the wagon.
He smiled when he saw her. “Hi, Beth. I hope I didn’t get you up out of bed,” he apologized, using his nickname for her.
Laura gulped. “I must look a sight.”
Almanzo caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. “I think you look beautiful.”
“Thanks.” Laura forced a smile back at him. It was hard to realize that this was the last time she would be gazing into his eyes for at least three months. She has to swallow around a lump in her throat. “All ready to go?” she asked at last.
“As ready as we could be,” Almanzo replied. “Eliza’s packed us a feast so we won’t go hungry, that’s for sure. Hopefully the weather will hold for us.”
“If – if it doesn’t, find shelter somewhere,” Laura advised. “Even if, in February, the weather is bad, stay put for awhile. I’d – I’d rather know you’re safe at your folks’ house than trapped in a storm somewhere.” She bit her lip.
Almanzo pulled her closer to him and looked down into her eyes. “I’ll be fine, Beth. I’ll be back as soon as I can be. And I’ll write to you, as often as I can. As soon as I get there and everyday after.”
Laura gave him another teeny smile. “I’ll write to you too,” she whispered, trying desperately to swallow back her tears.
As he enveloped her in a hug, Laura laid her head against Almanzo’s chest. “I’m going to miss you so much, Manly,” she said, her voice shaky with tears.
“I’ll miss you too,” Almanzo said gruffly. He found he had a lump in his throat as well. “I can’t wait until I’m back here with you. And we won’t have to be apart like this again.” He leaned his head against hers and smiled. “I’d love to bring you home to meet the folks, show you off.”
Laura smiled for real this time. “Manly,” she admonished him. “I’m not much to show off.”
“You are to me,” he responded. “You make sure you don’t go meeting any new young men in town while I’m away.”
“Don’t you go finding any old girlfriends.”
“I promise I won’t. I’ll be thinking about you all the time,” Almanzo said. After a moment of just holding each other, he said, “I should get going.”
“Okay.” Laura pulled away and sniffled. “I don’t want to make you late. Have a safe trip,” she said.
“I will.” Almanzo kissed her gently. “I love you.”
Her eyes were bright with tears. “I love you, too.”
Almanzo kissed her again and felt his heart pitter-patter the way it always did when he was around his Beth. He knew he had to make those feelings last; February was a long time away. He was going to miss her so much.
“I’ll see you…soon,” Laura finally declared with another small smile.
“See you soon,” Almanzo replied. He watched her walk back to the house and soon Eliza Jane came out.
She saw his sad expression. “I’m sorry, Manny,” she told him. “I wish we needn’t travel so far away.”
“Me, too,” he said, helping her into the wagon.
“She’ll be all right. And she’ll be here when you get back.”
“Yeah.” For some reason Almanzo couldn’t explain, there was more than that. Being away from Beth at Christmas, a time when you should be surrounded by people you love, somehow gave the holiday a hollow, empty feeling.
* * * * * * * * * *
The days passed and Laura was lonelier than she had ever felt before. She remembered the last time Almanzo had been away from her. It was after they had gotten engaged; Almanzo had wanted to marry Laura right away while her Pa wanted them to wait. Manly was furious that Laura obeyed her Pa’s wishes and refused to run off with him. Now, they both knew what a foolish mistake it had been. Tempers can run high, especially with someone you care about, and they both had said things they didn’t mean. Almanzo came back to Walnut Grove and accepted the fact that he and Laura would need to wait a year before they got married. Besides, he said, it gave him time to find the perfect place to build their home.
Laura was busy while they were away. Miss Wilder had left her in charge of the school, so she was teaching her brother and sister as well as most of the other pupils she had grown up with. It was a little strange at first, but she decided that the work was good for her because it kept her mind occupied. Still, she couldn’t help but daydream in her free time. She was so worried that Almanzo would find someone else; she just couldn’t help herself. She knew it was a worry she’d had in the past and he had assured her that she had no need for worry, but she couldn’t help it. She was so much younger than him and hadn’t had much experience in the world yet. She had only been away from home twice; once when she taught at her first school earlier that year, and another time while Almanzo was away to help her brother-in-law, Adam. Also, she knew that Manly had only come to Walnut Grove in the first place because Eliza Jane was offered to teach at the school. Almanzo had come with her so she wouldn’t be alone and also because he could have his farm. But now, Eliza knew the people in Walnut Grove. And surely Manly could find a farm back home if he really wanted to. She wondered if he ever regretted getting engaged before he went back home.
On the second of December, a letter was waiting for Laura at the post office. She stopped to ask everyday, and on that day, Mrs. Foster smiled and handed her a letter. She tore it open eagerly, as she walked home from school. “Dearest Beth,”
it read. “We’ve reached Mother and Father’s home. It was a fine journey and we weren’t delayed a bit. My family is delighted to hear of our engagement; I’ve told them all about the brown-eyed beauty who stole my heart. I miss you greatly and I’ve been thinking about you every step of the way. Please give my best to your family and know that I’m with you in my thoughts and my dreams every night. All my love, Almanzo.”
She couldn’t help but smile when she read that. It was good to know that Almanzo was thinking of her as much as she was thinking of him. But as Christmas drew closer and she and her brother and sisters busily worked and hid presents around the little house, Laura noticed Almanzo’s letters dwindling in their amount. At first, there had been several a week. Then, only one. Now she had not received a letter for almost two weeks. I knew it,[/]i she lamented.[i] I knew Manly would forget about me once he was back home. Home.
The word echoed in her mind. His home is here. He should be here with me. Now he’s with his old friends and girls he used to know.