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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)

TITLE: A Message From the Past
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Lizzie ran to Grandma’s house and into her living room. After a few huffs and puffs, she pulled her book out of her backpack and handed it to Grandma, “I got a Little House book from the library.”

When Grandma touched the book she jumped as if she had felt a shock. Lizzie noticed Grandma’s eyebrows lifted up and her smile started to fade, “Have you ever read these books?”

Grandma brushed the tear out of her eye, hugged her great-granddaughter, and said with a shaky voice, ”I’m familiar with her books.”

“Why are you sad, Grandma? I love reading about how life was different when you were little.”

“Times have changed; my life was different than your life. I believed I was entitled to everything my parents gave me: the finest dolls, the prettiest dresses, and tons of candy.”

Lizzie’s eyes grew bigger; she held her breath as she listened to her. Grandma rarely talked about her past.

“Life might have seemed idyllic; however I was never truly happy. You’re lucky your Mama and Papa love you very much.”

“But, Grandma, your parents must have loved you or they wouldn’t have given you all of those lovely things.”

Grandma chuckled softly, “Well, I suppose they did love me the best way they knew how, but they never said the words ‘I love you.’ What I really wanted was attention.

“They worked hard to buy me fancy presents, but I wish they had read books or played games with me. It was easier for them to give me a toy and have me play by myself than to spend time with me. I was sad, lonely, and didn’t have any friends.”

Lizzie threw her arms around Grandma. “I would have been your friend. I think you’re nice, plus you make the best cookies in the world.”

“Is that a hint, darling?” Lizzie nodded yes and the two of them went into the kitchen to have some milk and cookies. “Come sit next to me and I’ll tell you about the day my life changed forever.”

“Was it when you first got electricity or rode in a car?”

“No, my change came years later. One day, a large envelope was in the mailbox. I opened it up and read every word. Suddenly it became clear to me that I had been treating my kids just like my parents had raised me. I was too busy to get to know my own children. As I read on, an epiphany hit me; I didn’t know Jesus either. Sure, I went to church every Sunday, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him.

“I realized that was why I was unhappy. I started to read my Bible; then I called my minister and he came to the house. He told me how Jesus loves me and will forgive my sins if I believe in Him, pray for forgiveness, and live like He tells us we should. I knelt and invited Jesus into my heart.”

Lizzie looked into Grandma’s eyes; they were full of tears, “Were you happy after that?”

“I was a changed woman. I still had my bad and sad days; but with God’s help, I learned to lean on Him during hard times.”

Grandma took Lizzie into the bedroom and picked up a big envelope. She pulled the papers out and handed them to Lizzie; on the top was a handwritten note.

Dear Mrs. Smith,

My client, Laura Ingalls Wilder, would like you to read her manuscript, "On the Banks of Plum Creek." I have advised her that legally she does not need your permission to publish this book as she based the character on a combination of several people.

However, she realized that you might see yourself in the book. She does not wish to hurt your feelings, so she’s asking your blessings on her rendition of Nellie.

James Robinowitz

Lizzie’s eyes were huge, “You’re Nellie, Grandma?”

“Well, I’m one of several girls that Mrs. Wilder combined to make the character Nellie. After reading her stories, I knew I had to change my life. Thanks to that manuscript, I now have a wonderful relationship with Jesus. You’re the only person other than Grandpa who knows my little secret.”

Lizzie kissed Grandma, “I won’t tell anyone; now this will be my favorite book forever because it helped you become the best Grandma in the world.”


Author’s note: All characters in this story are fiction. Laura Ingalls Wilder did author several Little House books; she based Nellie on a combination of different people. Grandma and the letter from the lawyer are works of my imagination. Any resemblance to reality is a coincidence.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 05/07/10
Being a big fan of the Little House TV series, I loved this! I had no idea where you were going, so was pleasantly surprised. You have a wonderful imagination!
Virgil Youngblood 05/08/10
An enjoyable, well written story. You kept my attention all the way through.
Carol Penhorwood 05/08/10
Cleverly done! Super!
Joan Campbell05/13/10
This is lovely Shann - once again a very creative, different concept. I never read these books, although I remember watching it on TV, but unfortunately can't remember the characters.
Karen Macor05/13/10
Good idea for a tough topic. Nicely written and fun to read.
Benjamin Graber06/29/11
Lovely story, Shann! I really like the way you tied your character to a character in a well-known book, reminding all of us that there are lessons to be learned from good literature!