I posted this story at PT as well.It's of Jason ‘the inventor’ [Talking Machine/ Season2] moving back to Walnut Grove,and of how Almonzo felt with a new man in Beth’s life.
Almonzo glanced up from the clipboard in his hands. He noticed Beth with an unfamiliar boy in the schoolyard. Almonzo couldn’t help but see the huge smile dance across Laura’s face.
Ever since Perley Day had left, Almonzo had felt an odd, new feeling for Laura. He had tried to figure it all out, but he was stuck between their friendship, her pa, and her age.
Almonzo glanced up occasionally, not able to control his curiosity. Each glance brought upon him more and more jealousy.
Beth looked at the boy as if he were the only one there, the same look she normally gave Almonzo. They sat, having lunch together, away from everyone else, both enjoying the time.
The bell rang for lunch to end, and the stranger with Laura hopped up and offered her his hand. Laura graciously accepted it and stood up.
Almonzo, trying hard to contain his anger, turned his back to the schoolhouse, and busied himself.
Throughout that whole afternoon, Almonzo found himself starring up at the closed doors countless times. The doors finally swung opened and Laura and the new boy walked out, her books in one of his hands, her hand in his other.
Laura and the boy walked on by the Feed and Seed laughing as they spoke, ignoring Almonzo. A hurt Almonzo jumped off the platform and walked over to hitch up Barnum.
As Almonzo pretended to listen to Eliza Jane, she said something that caught his attention. “What”, He asked, “Yes, well Laura was quiet smitten with Jason today.”
“Oh, so that’s the new boy’s name”, A puzzled Almonzo questioned. “Yes, he had to move away from Walnut Grove when he was younger, but his dad decided to move back.” “Oh”, Almonzo said as he listened. “I heard he was Laura’s first beaux”, Eliza continued. ”Really”, Almonzo whispered halting Barnum in front of the steps.
Eliza Jane stepped out of the wagon as Almonzo told her “I think I’ll go down to the lake a while before supper.”
“Oh, all right, it will be ready in about an hour.”
“Thanks sis”, he smiled chirruping Barnum.
Upon his arrival to the lake, he decide to go on little walk through the woods. Lost in his thoughts of Beth, he found himself sitting back to an old oak.
He was interrupted by the sounds of voices, Laura’s voice! Sitting still, he noticed the laughter and voices growing closer. Before he knew it, Laura and Jason were standing, hand in hand, beside him.
“Oh, hi Beth”, Almonzo said, happy to see her, but confused of where they stood together.
‘Almonzo’, why did she call him that, sure it was his name, to others, but to her, his name was Manly.
“Jason and I were just out for a walk, and we decided that we would try to find ‘our’ tree.”
“Yep”, Jason interrupted, “There it is”, he said, slapping his hand on the bark above Almonzo’s head.
Almonzo looked up with curiosity. There, for the whole world to see, was ‘JR + LI’ carved into the old tree Almonzo had his back against.
“Oh, well, I bess be goin”, Almonzo said knowing he should leave the two be, but wanting to be as close to Beth as possible.
“Yeh, well we better be getting too Jason, Ma will have supper ready soon”
“Ok, let’s get goin”, Jason gave Laura a loving grin.
“Beth”, Almonzo yelled after her.
“Yeh”, Laura asked, turning to face Almonzo.
“I was wonderin”, he lied,”Maybe ya could help me with Barnum tomorrow after school?”
“Well Almonzo, Jason and I were planning on…”
“That’s okay Laura, we could go when you get done” Jason insisted.
Laura let out a sigh, “Oh, all right, I guess I could.”
Almonzo couldn’t help but hear Jason ask Laura,” Why does he call ya Beth?”
“I’ll tell ya later, it’s not really important right now.”
Laura turned back to Jason and they continued on.
Almonzo stood in shock. How could Beth have almost said no to him, and then said their nicknames for one another wasn’t important.
The night went by slowly. Almonzo stayed awake tossing and turning all night. The day wasn’t that easy either.
He couldn’t wait for the school doors to open and Laura to rush out with enthusiasm to be spending time with him.
Finally, after what seemed like years, the doors opened and all the kids came filling out. Almonzo couldn’t see Laura anywhere in the crowd.
After a while had passed, Laura and Jason walked out from the back of the school, both in heavy conversation.
Upon their arrival to the Feed and Seed platform, Jason whispered something in Laura’s ear, handed her back her books, and ran off.
A curious Almonzo stood there, wondering what Jason and Laura talked about all the time.
“Hey, Almonzo”, Laura said barley above a whisper, gently touching his shoulder. ”You okay?”
“Yeh, Beth”, Almonzo replied, coming back to reality.
“Ya ready?” Laura asked.
“Yep”, Almonzo said, putting his hand out to help Laura get into the buggy. As Laura slipped her fragile, tinder hand into his callused hand, Almonzo couldn’t help but notice how perfect it seemed to fit into his.
Once they were both seated comfortably, Almonzo grabbed the reins and chirruped Barnum.
“So Beth, who your new friend, Jason was it?” he asked, trying to seem innocent.
“Yes, that’s his name. Well he’s kinda my, well, my…….”
“Your?” Almonzo echoed her.
“Well, he’s courtin’ me”, Laura answered.
“What?” Almonzo stopped Barnum.
“Yeh, Well, when I was younger, I used to think I was, well, it’s silly, but I thought I was going to marry him.”
“Yeh, marry him, but I’m older now, and when he came back, I was so happy!”
“But, Beth, do ya love him?”
“Almonzo, not to be rude or anything, but what do you care?”
“Well, you’re my friend and I gotta look after ya.”
“I may be your friend, but as to the lookin, after me part, I’m almost sixteen, I’m not a little girl, and ya don’t have to look after me.”
“I guess your right”, Almonzo said, truly meaning it this time.
“Well”, Laura interrupted his daydreamin’ “Ya bess be gettin’ me home, Jason’s probably waitin’ for me.”
”Oh yeh, okay”, Almonzo said, turning Barnum around toward the Ingalls’ place.
“Bye Beth”, Almonzo yelled after her.
“Bye Almonzo, see ya”
During his ride home, all Almonzo could think about was how much older and mature Laura seemed.
He awoke the next morning with dreams of Laura, which now he was used to, and for the first time, it didn’t feel wrong.
Laura waved to him on her way to school, waving back and smiling, he knew that his day would go better after the scene that just happened.
Through the day, his mind still swam with dreams.
A gloomy Laura walked out of the schoolhouse.
Almonzo had noticed Jason leaving at lunch, but he had passed it off for sickness or something.
“Hi Beth”, Almonzo said, hopping off of the platform.
Almonzo, knowing something was wrong asked,” Want to go for a buggy ride?”
When they arrived at the lake, Almonzo turned around to face Laura.
“Manly, he had to leave, he told me he loved me, then, his pa made him leave”, Laura said in tears.
“Come on Beth, it ain’t the end of end of the world”, Almonzo said with true compassion, surprising them both by taking her in his arms. Worried by what she might do, he started to pull back, but she nuzzled her sweet, kind face in his chest.
He got a whiff of her sweet smelling hair and almost leaned into to kiss her, but caught himself.
“Beth, now look at me”, he said, taking her head in his hands.
“You have an awful lot of people who love ya, and you’ll find the right person for yourself, in due time.”
“I know, Manly”, Laura said, giving him her sweet, familiar smile.
“I’ll always be here for you Beth” Almonzo’s words touching her.
Almonzo looking into Laura honey brown eyes changed his concentration from her to the reins, not wanting his new feeling for her to be shown right now.
“Thanks Manly” Laura thanked him for his help and walked into the little house, Almonzo, overjoyed to hear ‘Manly’ come from Beth’s mouth hopped into the buggy with a spring in his step.
Beth may have had her heart broken, but he was so glad he was there to comfort her.
Laura was so young yet acted, most of the time, when she wasn’t so feisty, older and more level-headed than he.
Almonzo envied Jason for having her heart then breaking it, and deep inside had the wish he would one day have Beth’s heart, as now, slowly, unknowingly, she was gaining his.
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."