What She Did NOT Want
I’ve incorporated the following prompts into this work, which is more a series of vignettes than a story.
Although several books are mentioned in this story, this is not a book fic; I haven’t added or changed anything.
(See the end of the work for more notes.)
Ellen not only read books, she absorbed them. She practically lived in them. And she often wanted to have, or to do, things that characters in books had, or did.
She asked for wallpaper with little yellow roses like the wallpaper mentioned in “The Golden Name Day”, by Jennie D. Lindquist, and was delighted when her parents actually found several rolls, left over from the store Ellen’s mother’s great-grandparents had owned many years ago, in the attic.
Six weeks before their school’s Talent Show, Ellen and her closest friends, Kathleen and Denise, read Maud Hart Lovelace’s “Betsy and Tacy Go Over The Big Hill”, and decided that they would perform the Cat Duet, as Betsy and Tacy had done at their School Entertainment. Ellen and Denise would sing, and Kathleen would play the piano.
“I think I have the music somewhere,” Kathleen said.
She did, and the girls were a hit at the Talent Show, with Ellen and Denise dressed in cat suits, bought at a costume store. (They wore the costumes again approximately six months later, on Halloween.)
After reading Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi”, she longed to taste goat’s milk; the description made it sound so delicious.
Therefore, Ellen was excited… make that thrilled… to see containers of goat’s milk when she and her parents were in the supermarket one Saturday afternoon.
But the milk did not smell at all the way the book had made Ellen imagine that it would, a sugar-and-cinnamon smell. In fact, it smelled the way she thought an unwashed goat would smell. Worse than the smell was the taste. Ellen poured the milk down the sink, and then scrubbed out the sink.
(The tomato sandwich she made after reading “Harriet The Spy”, by Louise Fitzhugh, tastedmuch better. In fact,it became her favorite sandwich.)
Ellen’s grandparents gave her a copy of “Anne Of Green Gables”, by L. M. Montgomery, for her birthday. Before she was halfway through the book, Ellen asked for a dress with puffed sleeves. None of the clothing stores seemed to have such a dress, so Ellen’s Aunt Sylvia, who was an expert dressmaker, loved to sew, and, more than that, loved her niece, made one for her. The next year Ellen proudly loaned the dress to the local theater group for their production of “Anne Of Green Gables”.
After she read the first half of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”, Ellen began haunting bookstores for a copy of “Undine and Sintram”, the book Jo wanted for so long and finally received. Ellen, too, eventually found a copy of that book in a store where various old items were displayed in a hodge-podge manner. (Nothing over $2.00)
A few weeks later, she found a blue willow plate, which she’d wanted ever since reading “Blue Willow”, by Doris Gates, in that same store. She bought the plate. Her mother placed it carefully in the glass-enclosed display cabinet, where it would be seen and not broken.
For several years, Ellen and her parents tried to find tang-hulurs, the candied berries on a stick mentioned in Eleanor Frances Lattimore’s”Little Pear” books, every time they visited Chinatown. But the shopkeeper only shook their heads, puzzled and apologetic.
“Maybe we’re pronouncing it wrong, ” Ellen said.
“Perhaps,” said her father, “or maybe they only sell them in China.”
Ellen’s mother added. “Maybe nobody makes them any more. After all, the events in those books happened a long time ago.”
Ellen never did get to taste a tang-hulur; that was one longing that went unfulfilled.
But there was one thing children in some of the books she read received that Ellen definitely, positively, absolutely did not want.
The parts about the goats’ milk, the tomato sandwiches, the blue willow plate, and the tang-hulurs are true.
This could almost have been a self-insert story!