Times Are Changing- Season 9 Rewrite
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 wagon sped down the road toward the Wilder farm. Laura, who was cleaning the chicken coop, heard the "Ha!" Ha!" of Almanzo's voice as he pushed his Morgans harder. Slamming the door of the coop shut, she raced out to meet him. The brake creaked as Almanzo's set it against the wheel.
"What's wrong?' asked Laura, clutching her heaving chest.
Almanzo jumped from the wagon and scooped Laura into a hearty embrace. Twirling her around, his feet danced with excitement. "Nothin's wrong." Dropping her feet to the ground he reached into his shirt pocket and waved an envelope above her head. "Everythin' is right."
Her eyes mere slits, Laura gazed at the waving envelope. "What have you got there?"
"A letter." Why not drag it out a bit more and see if he could make her angry.
She rolled her eyes. "Of course it's a letter. Who's it from?"
"Guess." The skin in the corner of his eyes crinkled with glee and a crooked smile crept across is face.
He's enjoying this too much. Laura's eyebrows rose as she crossed her arms across her chest. "Eliza Jane?"
"No again. Three strikes and you're out," he chuckled.
Laura snatched at the envelope but Almanzo's long arm held it out of her grasp. "Fine." Laura's nose in the air, she turned on her heels and headed toward the chicken coop.
Almanzo encircled her waist and pulled her close. "Aw Beth, don't get angry. I'm just excited." His hands slid down her arms. "I can't believe they're comin' for a visit."
He smiled. "Royal and the kids."
On tippy-toes she pecked his cheek. "Oh Manly, that's wonderful! I've been so worried about them since Millie died."
Almanzo frowned. He hadn't been well enough to attend Millie's funeral. Though he had gained back the use of both legs when the wire about Millie's passing arrived, Doc Baker discouraged such a trip after his long illness.
Tender fingers touched Almanzo's cheek. "What's wrong?"
"Life became hard for them so fast after they left here. Losin' the baby and Millie findin' out she couldn't have any more. It was a blessin' when they adopted Jenny, but then Millie took sick." Almanzo hugged Laura and kissed the top of her head. "I don't know what I would do if I lost you or Rose."
Her shoulders rose and fell. "You would go on, just like Royal has. Thankfully Myron and Rupert stayed close to home for their studies." Laura wandered back to the chicken coop and picked up the rake. It won't clean itself. "It must be hard for Jenny losing her parents and then Millie."
Almanzo folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the coop. "Royal says she's a big help. She does all the cookin' and cleanin'. I don't think Royal could make it on his own." Almanzo glanced up at the sky. "God sure knew what He was doin' when He matched them up."
Laura raked the last bit of soiled straw out of the coop and locked the door. Dragging the pile to a spot behind the coop, she leaned the rake against the frame.
"Pa had a hard time believing that Mary was going blind. That might have been the greatest test of his faith." She brushed her hands off on her apron. "The night before Pa told Mary, he went to the church to pray. Reverend Alden found him and they talked. He told Pa that God must have chosen Mary for a very special purpose."
Laura smiled and pushed a sweaty strand of hair away from her face. "No one knew what that purpose was. All we knew was that Mary would lose her sight. But God took that tragedy and turned it into something wonderful. Look how many blind children Mary and Adam have helped. She would never even have met Adam if it wasn't for her blindness."
How could anything good come put of Millie's death? Hands tucked in his pockets, Almanzo shuffled up dirt and gazed at imaginary stones. Laura's touch brought his gaze back to her face.
A sweet smile curled the corners of her lips. "Look at Millie and Royal. If they hadn't lost the baby and been unable to have more kids they never would have adopted Jenny. Royal would be alone with two boys and a baby, and who knows what would have happened to Jenny. Maybe she would have ended up on the streets like Albert." The thought sent shivers through her.
Laura cupped Almanzo's chin with both hands. "We have to have faith that God knows what He's doing even when we can't understand it."
Almanzo squeezed her close, his chest heaving as he forced back tears. "I'll be glad when they get here."
"Me too," she said. "It will make Pa's leaving easier to handle.
A crooked smile slid across his face at the inconsistency. She can't be strong about everything. "Beth, you know your Pa has never been keen on stayin' in one place too long."
"I know." Nodding, she fiddled with the hem of her apron. "I just never thought he would leave Walnut Grove."
"Times are tough. Lots of families are pullin' out."
The air suddenly felt hot as emotions swirled inside her and breathing became difficult. "This isn't like when we moved to Winoka. The whole town isn't dying. We've had a few tough years but…" She shook her head. "I can't believe Pa is giving up."
Almanzo rested his hands on his hips. "Now wait a minute Beth, your Pa isn't givin' up. His family is growin' and he needs the money. Your Pa isn't gettin' any younger either. Farm life is hard. You know that."
De Smet is growin' like crazy. There will be lots of jobs for your Pa. With his carpentry skills and his past work for the railroad he'll make a nice livin'…one that doesn't depend on the weather."
"You're right." Laura's voice cracked as the emotions welling up inside her spilled over. She snuggled into Almanzo's arms, her tears soaking the pocket of his shirt.
He rocked her back and forth as he held her. For now, he could be strong enough for the both of them.