A Waltons Story

(The Waltons Fan Fiction)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Lorimar Productions and Warner Bros. Television. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of The Waltons. No copyright infringement is intended.

 

6.

The Adjustment

 

For the next week, after their honeymoon, Daisy and John-Boy moved his things into her apartment. Daisy and Melissa would move what they could during the day while he was working for the Associated Press. After work, John-Boy would move the rest. Each night, for a week, the newlyweds fell into bed exhausted. By the weekend, he had given the landlord his key, and was officially moved into Daisy’s or as it was now their apartment.

Before he moved in, John-Boy thought the apartment was very neat, and practical. Once his possessions arrived, the apartment began to seem small and cluttered. He had a little saved in the bank, but not enough for a three bedroom apartment at that time. So, they would have to make-do with what they had.

As the months went by, he put part of his paycheck in the bank. As each week passed by, he couldn’t wait to move into a bigger place. Since he missed a couple of weeks of work and writing time for his novel, John-Boy was behind and deadlines were always coming up. Each night, after Melissa was put to bed, John-Boy would sit at the kitchen table and try to write. It was difficult because Melissa’s tiny voice would call from the bedroom often, begging for another story or her mother to get her a glass of water. This would cause John-Boy to lose concentration.

In a way, it was almost like being at home again, with his siblings barging into his room while he wrote, or Elizabeth, standing in the doorway, waiting to be carried to bed. But this was certainly different. Writing was his official form of employment, John-Boy wasn’t just writing for a class assignment or a journal entry anymore. The constant interruptions then, he didn’t really mind, but these days, they made him irritable.

The nightly distractions were just the beginning. He wasn’t used to food out of a can or cardboard box and longed for his Mama’s home cooked meals with fresh picked fruit from the garden, and newly smoked meat from the smokehouse. Even though he had lived in New York a year before marrying Daisy, and they dined at restaurants often. Now, that was not an option, as funds were tight. When John-Boy lived on his own, there were times when he would eat canned or boxed foods. But since he was married, he expected home cooked meals, just as his father had after a hard day at the saw mill.

“Hello! I’m home!” He called out, as he locked the door behind him.

He glanced around the room. The place was still a mess looking as though a hurricane had swept through. John-Boy felt his dander getting ruffled. After all, he was not raised that way, and did not expect his married life to have started out this way either.

No one answered. John-Boy called out “Hello” again and then heard moaning and a faint cry coming from the bathroom.

“Daisy, are you here?”

“In here, John,” her voice called.

John-Boy found Daisy holding Melissa with a cold compress against her forehead.

“Hi, darling. Melissa, are you all right?”

John-Boy asked as an alarmed look in his face crept up. Melissa started to cry thus beginning another myriad of gagging noises and heaving sounds. Daisy flung her daughter toward the bowl only to have her shoulders slump in relief as nothing came up. The cold compress was placed on Melissa's forehead once again.

“She has been sick all afternoon.” Now Daisy brought Melissa to the sink to wash out her mouth. “Come on, sweetie. Let’s try to lie down for awhile and get some sleep." She winked to John-Boy as they went past him to the little girl's bedroom.

While Daisy was getting Melissa settled, John-Boy made his way to the kitchen and discovered a box of Kraft Dinner on the counter, along with a can of green beans. He picked up the box, scowled at it, and then set it back on the counter. He never had Kraft Dinner before and wasn’t going to start now. His Mama’s homemade macaroni and cheese, with thick elbow noodles, drenched in cheese, topped with seasoning, was more appetizing than the still macaroni on the cardboard cover.

He was getting more annoyed by the minute. He still couldn’t believe the apartment was so untidy. He hoped Daisy could at least have started supper--a real one. John-Boy asked himself, Am I expecting too much? My Mama and Grandma managed to create a fresh meal or two everyday of the week! Not this canned and box garbage! He picked up the box again, slammed it down on the counter, and sighed.

“What is it?” asked Daisy.

He turned around and saw her standing at the entrance of the hallway.

“Nothing,” he said, after all she had been with a sick child all day.

“It’s something. I can tell by the look on your face. Something’s bothering you.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“Is it your supper? Is that it?”

“Just forget about it.”

“Oh, so it is your supper! What’s wrong with you?”

“You said it, not me. Well, this sad excuse you are calling supper to begin with.”

“What do you think I do all day, sit on the couch and listen to soap operas on the radio?”

“It’s definitely not cooking and cleaning!”

“I have been with a sick child all day. What do you expect of me?”

“I just thought after being here for a couple of months, you would be a little further along with getting this apartment in order and tonight I come home to this!"

“Well, what do you expect, John?” Daisy’s hands were on her hips now.

“For starters, a supper waiting when I get home! That is what I’m used to. My Mama can do it and she had seven kids to look after. Why can’t you? You only have one child.”

“Do you ever think that while you're at work, I’m doing the best I can taking care of Melissa, unpacking boxes, getting interrupted all day long. Unlike you, my time is not my own.”

“Do you think it's easy for me? I am working my fingers to the bone, Daisy. I bring home the paycheck each week, to give you a decent home and be a family each night. The least you can do is keep this place clean and have my supper ready.”

“Well, John, if you’re so worried about your supper, go back to your Mama and have her cater to you.”

John-Boy was stunned that Daisy would say such a thing. He looked up and stared right at her.

Suddenly, they both laughed. John-Boy and Daisy hugged each other.

“I’m so sorry,” he said into her hair. “I sounded like such a jerk. Daisy, I will not disagree with you. I’m sorry, Darling. I have been under so much pressure since I have been back to work.” He pulled away and gazed at her.

“I am too, John. I’m trying to find my way around my new role here. I’m so used to having help with Melissa and now she is totally dependent on me. It’s not the life that I’m used to either. I’m sorry though, I’ll get the hang of it and I promise you, Darling, I will get there.” She winked at him. “And I will cook for you, too,” she added.

Daisy reached up and gave him a kiss and he instantly responded.

*~*~*

John-Boy thought things would get better as 1940 turned into 1941, but they didn’t. When he came home, the apartment was still in disarray. Melissa’s toys littered the floor. Cookbooks were stacked on the counter, waiting to be read. Daisy did not cook, as she intended to after their first argument as husband and wife. John-Boy was not sure what she did during the day, but he noticed the place hadn’t been dusted or mopped in weeks. And Melissa started to become unruly, especially at bed time.

He wanted to feel comfortable about writing at home, but he didn’t. There were always disturbances. Melissa once spilled an open ink bottle on one of his articles for the Associated Press that was due the next morning. John-Boy forgave her, as she was only four years old. He blamed himself; for he shouldn’t have left it open on the table in the first place, even though he was only going into the living room to get a book. But when it happened a second, then a third time, he wasn’t so sure.

John-Boy knew he had the authority to discipline Melissa, but he hadn’t felt right about doing so just yet. This wasn’t one of his siblings. As the oldest of seven children, John-Boy was given permission to discipline his siblings in a time of need. Melissa really wasn’t his daughter yet. She still legally belonged to Daisy. However, Daisy knew that John-Boy could discipline her as well. After all, he was the breadwinner in the family.

One night, Daisy went over to Millie’s to borrow some sugar. John-Boy knew she would be gone a considerable amount of time. The two ladies loved to chit-chat, so John-Boy said he would keep an eye on Melissa. He sat at the table working on his novel, while she played with her rag doll and building blocks on the floor in the living room.

“John-Boy, when are you going to build a bed for my doll?” asked Melissa, looking up at him from sitting on the floor.

“Soon, honey. When I go visit my Mama and Daddy, I’ll make you a bed from the wood in our saw mill.”

“But she needs a bed now.”

“Doesn’t she like being with you? She might get scared if she had her own bed. My sister Elizabeth always had her dolls with her when it was bedtime.”

“No, she still needs a bed.”

John-Boy put down the fountain pen and sighed. Maybe he could create a make-shift doll bed until he was able to build one at the sawmill.

“All right, honey. Let me see if I can find something. Help me look.”

Melissa ran to where he was sitting and gave him a hug. They both began to search for anything that would resemble a doll bed. John-Boy found an empty oatmeal box. The box was large. If he were to cut out the front of it, this could be a bed, until Melissa had a real one for her doll. For once he was glad Daisy hadn’t cleaned up.

“Melissa, look what I—“ He began to say as he turned away from the kitchen counter.

In that instant, he saw the little girl pick up the open ink bottle. He dropped the box on the counter and ran to her. But it was too late. Dark ink splattered all over the pages.

John-Boy flew into a rage. He held the girl and gave her a whack on the fanny—twice.

“What did I tell you about playing with the ink bottle?! What did I tell you?”

A tiny whimper came out of Melissa.

“Tell me!” His grip tightened around her arms.

Just then Daisy walked in the door.

“John! What happened? What are you doing?”

He let go of Melissa and she ran to her mother, wailing.

“I told her over and over not to play with the ink bottle and she ruined my chapter!”

“Did you spill the ink?” Daisy asked Melissa.

She slowly nodded.

“I want you to go to your room and think about what you did.”

Melissa ran from her mother, howling down the hall to her room.

Daisy turned and faced John-Boy in the living room.

“She has to be disciplined, Daisy. I didn’t like what I did just now, but it has to be done,” he said.

“Really, John, I don't quite understand the way you react sometimes,” Daisy rolled her eyes at him.

John-Boy glared at his wife.

“What’s so difficult for you to understand? The fact that Melissa knows this is wrong, yet she continues to pick it up when she knows better! Or, Daisy, is it my mounting frustration at the fact that every time she does this, she ruins my papers and those papers are my work. Shall I remind you it is our bread and butter that I have to redo? Don't you understand she’s testing me? If I don’t stop it now, it’s going to continue.”

“Relax, John, I’ll take care of it.”

“Well, I hope you do because you don't take care of anything else.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Exactly like it sounds! We have been back and moved in for four months now. The apartment is a mess, you don't clean, you don't cook…what is it that you do all day?”

John-Boy left the living room just then and began pace to in the floor in the kitchen. He then stopped and stood in front of Daisy, with his hands on his hips.

“Why is it that before we were married, when you were working that you managed to come over and cook for me and clean up? But now that we're married and have Melissa, you've forgotten how, all of a sudden?”

“How dare you speak to me that way?! What is it that you think I do all day! I have an active four-year-old or did you forget that, John?”

“It’s more like you’re letting her get away with whatever you want to, because you feel guilty that you gave Melissa up and your mother adopted her. Now that your mother is gone, you are nothing more than a playmate. What are we going to do when we start having children?”

Daisy began to cry.

“Oh no, don’t tell me you’re—“

“I’m not!”

“Well, I certainly hope not! You need to learn how to raise Melissa first!”

Daisy sobbed. Like a child Melissa’s age, she wiped her nose with the sleeve of her dress and then looked up at him.

“What is it then?” he asked.

“John, I went to a doctor a few days ago and he fitted me for a diaphragm.”

He didn’t know what to think at first. Finally, he found his voice.
“Where did you get the money to buy that?”

“I had some money left over from when I sold my mother’s house. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough for the examination and a diaphragm.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, John, I wanted to start out our married life on a solid fitting before we started to think about a family. And this was my way of taking care of it. Besides we have enough to deal with right now and having a child would complicate everything.”

“Well, I’m at a loss for words and that doesn’t happen often.”

In his mind he thought of the times they'd used rubbers. He guessed that wasn’t enough now.

“Don't tell me you're upset about that too,” she said.

“Daisy, I always felt that when you become man and wife, you would share these kinds of decisions. But the thing that really irks me is that you did not even tell or discuss this with me! What other secrets do you have that I don't know about?”

“Oh honestly, you act like you're fifty years old and it’s terrible.”

“Never mind my attitude about this. The point is, that you kept a major truth from me and right now I don't feel like I know you at all.”

Just then, Melissa came bouncing into the room. She smiled up at John-Boy.

“When are you going to make a bed for my doll?” she asked.

“Not now, Melissa. The point of you going to your room was because you were supposed to think about what you did wrong, and you didn't. You need to tell me that you will not touch the ink again. Do you understand me?”

“She’s just a child. How do you expect her to understand?” said Daisy.

“Well, when we were children, we were taught that there were things that were off limits and knew right from wrong. Melissa will not know what’s wrong unless we teach her and you have not done it, so I will.”

“Don’t you speak to me or my daughter that way!”

“Oh, so it’s my daughter—”

“John, stop it, you know what I mean.”

Daisy turned to Melissa.

“Honey, it’s time for you to go to bed now,” she said.

“But I’m not tired,” Melissa replied.

“Yes, come on, Mommy will put you to bed.”

He watched as Daisy and Melissa ventured down the hallway. John-Boy sat down at the table. The ink blotted papers stared up at him. Most of the writings were ruined. With one giant sweep, John-Boy scooped up the papers, crumpled them, and threw part of his novel away. He sat back down at the table and held his head in his hands. He had a headache.

He sat there, getting agitated as the clock on the wall of the kitchen ticked away. A part of him felt so angry at what Daisy had done behind his back. It was hard enough for them to talk about their times in the bedroom. He knew that part was good; perhaps it was the only satisfying thing in their marriage right now.

Another part of him wanted to cry. Their honeymoon had lasted three days and then after John-Boy moved his things into their apartment, that’s when the problems began. He wanted to call up his mother and father, but he decided against it. He couldn’t run to them after every fight they had, especially about Daisy and what she had done and he didn’t want to pay the cost of a long distance call. It was between them only. Was every marriage like this? John-Boy wondered. No, his parents and grandparents marriages weren’t like theirs. They were still happy after all those years. John-Boy had only been married four months and right now, he was miserable. He hoped and prayed things would get better soon.

John-Boy could hear Daisy singing Melissa to sleep. If she behaved tomorrow, he thought, I’ll create the oatmeal box doll bed. He heard Daisy as she came down the hall into the kitchen. Instantly, he tensed up. To avoid her for a few more seconds, John-Boy went to get a drink of milk out of the refrigerator.

He shut the door and turned to face Daisy, who stood in front of him. He held the bottle of milk tightly.

“John,” she said. “I know that you will find this hard to understand because you are used to a big family and being the oldest. The whole idea of parenting comes naturally to you. To me, it’s a new thing. I am still not used to having someone depend on me for everything. Please try to realize that.”

John-Boy set the bottle of milk on the counter.

“Daisy, I could almost understand that. But what I can't come to terms with, is the outright lying you did by using the diaphragm and not telling me! That’s something, as a couple, we were supposed to face together. Right now, I cannot get it out of my mind—that you would just do this without asking me first. Daisy, right now, I see you as being selfish and it hurts me to the core. You’re not thinking about us.”

“But John, I’m thinking about us. Who do you think would be doing most of the childrearing? It wouldn't be you, it would be me. And I have all I can do to think of Melissa right now.”

At that moment Melissa came scampering down the hallway once again.

“Mommy, I need a drink of water!” she said in a singsong voice, that didn’t sound remotely tired.

“Be right with you, honey. Go back to bed.” Daisy replied.

For the time being Melissa ran back in her bedroom.

Daisy pushed past John-Boy to get Melissa a drink of water from the faucet. He sat down at the table for what seemed like the tenth time that night while she disappeared into Melissa’s room and he heard her say, “That is it. Good night now.”

After quietly closing Melissa’s bedroom door, Daisy came back down the hallway and sat across the table from John-Boy.

“As I was saying, I feel you are only thinking about what's best for you and not us. I feel like I don’t know you anymore. I want to know what happened to the woman I married?” said John-Boy.

“John, that’s not fair! I am trying and you’re not giving me a chance! You’re measuring how life should be based on your parents and not everyone is that way!”

“If my parents can raise seven children in the Depression, then we can raise one! Never mind considering another. You already made that decision.”

“Boy, you must really hate me now!”

“I don’t hate you; I just don’t know you anymore, Daisy.”

Just then, they both heard tiny footsteps inching their way into the room. Melissa stood there at the entrance of the hallway, grinning from ear to ear.

“Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.”

John-Boy slammed his fist on the table.

“Dammit, Melissa!” he said, and she ran down the hall.

“Don’t you talk to her like that!” cried Daisy.

“I’ll take care of this and maybe you will learn how to put a child to bed once and for all!” He said sternly.

John-Boy went down the hallway. He heard Daisy right behind him and could tell she didn’t trust him right now. They both stood in Melissa’s doorway. He grasped Melissa by the hand.

“Come on, I will take you to the bathroom.”

“No, I will take my own daughter to the bathroom, John.”

He glared at Daisy as she took Melissa by the other hand.

“Come on, honey, right this way,” said Daisy.

He sighed and let Melissa’s hand go and the little girl traipsed behind her mother, who still held her other hand. When they came out of the bathroom, John-Boy had gone into Melissa's bedroom and grabbed the nearly empty glass of water that Daisy had gotten for her earlier.

“John-Boy! Why are you taking my water? I want my water!” whined Melissa.

“I’m taking your water because its lights out and no more excuses. Get into bed now.”

She got into bed, and then he turned out all the lights.

“Good night, Melissa,” said John-Boy.

“Good night, John-Boy. Good night, Mommy.”

“Good night, Melissa," echoed Daisy.

He closed the door behind them, turning the knob, so it wouldn’t produce a loud slam. They both followed one another back into the living room. John-Boy sat on the couch and Daisy sat in an armchair across the room. Neither of them said anything for a moment. They listened closely toward Melissa’s room.

“Why did you take her water away? She might need it,” asked Daisy.

“Oh, so she can get up again and again, asking for another and then making a hundred trips to the bathroom all night?” he replied, glowering at her.

“Oh John, really! It’s just a glass of water!” Daisy threw up her hands.

“She has to learn her limits.”

“It’s a wonder she’s waking up! You’re talking so loud; the whole city can hear you!”

“I think you got that wrong, Daisy. You’re the one who’s shouting.”

“I’m not going to put up with this anymore!” Daisy said as she got up and went into the kitchen. John-Boy heard the refrigerator door open and close.

Just then, he caught a glimpse of a tiny head peeking around the corner into the living room.

“All right, that’s it!” John-Boy hollered.

He bolted off of the couch. As he came toward Melissa, she ran down the hall squealing with laughter. John-Boy caught up with her at the entrance of her bedroom. He picked her up and marched right over to her bed.

“I thought I told you it was time for bed!” he shouted at her.

Melissa began to cry. He heard Daisy running down the hallway. Before she could make it past the doorway, he threw his wife a look that said, “Don’t you dare say anything. I’m taking care of this!”

“John-Boy! No!” Melissa pleaded.

“Yes!”

He turned her over his knees and spanked her three times on the bottom. This caused Melissa to howl in agony.

“Are you going to listen to me now, or am I going to have to do that again!”

“It’s time for bed,” Melissa’s voice squeaked.

“Yes, that’s right,” he said as he turned her over and sat her on his lap.

He then picked Melissa up once more and put her into bed, to show he still meant business, and yanked the covers over her, until only her head peeked out.

“Now, good night and no more getting up, I mean it!”

He came out of the room and brushed past Daisy.

“Shut the door,” he said to Daisy in the same tone he used for Melissa. For the first time that night, Daisy did as she was told. Her eyes were misty as she came down the hall into the living room.

John-Boy, who was already in the living room, grabbed his coat from the closet, next to the door. She was right behind him.

“Where do you think you’re going at this time of night?” Daisy asked, doing her best to hold back a sob in her throat.

“I have to get out of here." His voice still had a slight edge to it. "I need to take a walk and think about some things.”

“Where are you going?” she implored.

“Out.”

He zipped up his coat.

“John, don't walk out on me like this! I don’t like what’s going on here either.”

“You should have thought about that before,” he said, not looking at her.

He wrenched open the door, and did not look back to the stream of tears that ran down Daisy's face.

Copyright © 2005 by Kristi N. Zanker

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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

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