Excerpt from Chlora’s Book of the Month Club: April
Draft 1, 2013, copyright Ginger Henry Geyer
It is early Easter morning....
Chlora wasn’t allowed to dig
into her Easter basket surprise
until after the sunrise service,
but she did grab the brand new
bunny slippers that sat beside the basket.
She tugged on her old bathrobe
and walked around on the squeaky bare floor.
Yep, these sunrise slippers
were a stark improvement over
the crocheted ones made by Aunt Daisy.
The white bunnies would be a
welcome addition to her closet,
and after this morning, flip-flopping
to and from the empty tomb
they would have an exciting
story to tell to the nations.
The other shoes in the closet --
her Goody Two Red Shoes,
the chunka boots, and the new
tennis shoes would not believe it.
Too supernatural they’d say.
All those shoes had boring lives
and would grow jealous
of the cheeky faced bunny slippers.
After the sunrise service, they empty out their Easter baskets...
When Chlora’s family got back home
they discovered the Easter Bunny
had done his thing in the front yard.
This always confused Chlora as
her own pet rabbits did not lay eggs.
They made live, pink babies with short ears.
Apparently they were of a different species
than the Easter Bunny.
The whole bit was even crazier
but when sugar lust takes over,
But then Easter itself
wasn’t understandable either.
To make room for the egg hunt
they had to empty out their Easter baskets
from the early morning surprise haul.
This was a delightful task,
except when it was not.
For instance, each basket had some carrots in it,
the equivalent of coal in your Christmas stocking.
In Chlora’s basket was one of those noise maker toys
that makes animal sounds when you turn it over.
A bit babyish, till she realized
it had to do with St. Peter making choices.
Either baaah-baaah feed-my-sheep,
do-betray your best friend.
That cock had to crow three times
and that’s a lot of action.
Perhaps Chlora could prompt Peter’s metanoia
by choosing the better end of the turnover toy.
Jerry Pete got Peter’s keys to the kingdom
and whined that they looked like a baby toy.
They were hurtled at Chlora’s head
before she could explain that those keys were used
to both bind and to loosen, but moreover it meant
you must enter that kingdom like a little child.
J.P. really liked the new egg tempera coloring book
so he could make pigmented people.
Joanie got a pack of Old Maid cards in her basket.
What was that Bunny thinking?
But she also uncovered some
pastel colored hair clips
and you’d think she’d found a Faberge egg.
All three of them were happy to find candy tucked
among the plastic Easter grass.
To cover both sides of Easter,
Chlora’s basket held a white chocolate cross
and a dark chocolate rabbit.
The cross was sort of Byzantine and odd
with a little pot-bellied Jesus hanging on it.
Who’d want to eat Jesus? Chlora shrugged.
We all do it when we take communion.
What if it got hot and the two chocolates
melted in the basket?
They’d be stuck together for good,
with Peter Rabbit crucified upside down.
Both chocolates were rather sculptural,
even if made in a mold by the thousands.
At least these mold made items were useful,
unlike those ceramic figurines
her aunts collected --
those Precious Moments kids
with their big, sad eyes pulling at heartstrings,
but hollow inside. Just imagine a
Precious Moments at the Cross,
a babyish John and Mary at the foot of it,
poor Jesus with big sad eyes,
hanging there in pastel colors.
Chlora looked up bunnies and chocolate
in the Bible index; none were to be found.
She decided to stash away some
of the Easter candy because
there wouldn’t be another
sugar orgy holiday until Halloween.
The marshmallow peeps were a wobbly row
of extruded yellow lumps and they had
an objectionable texture on the tongue,
somewhere between spongey and gritty.
Chlora knew from experience
that baby chicks grow up
to be hens or roosters
but nobody but a chicken sexer
can tell the difference at this age.
Daddy once made her an incubator out of
a Styrofoam cooler heated by a light bulb,
sort of like the Easy Bake oven.
She knew white eggs came from chickens
and blue eggs came from robins,
and had been pleasantly surprised
when a farmer friend delivered
some chicken eggs that were pale green,
a celadon green that
Chinese potters would die for.
The green eggs were fertilized
and had 21 days to hatch.
She nestled them in the incubator
with an egg timer.
They finally cracked themselves out
and at first they were none too cute.
But after fluffing up,
the chicks were absolutely darling.
Chlora used the egg dye to tint their feathers
different colors so she could tell them apart.
She even made them a baby book.
Problem was, those chicks grew
into adolescents with pastel tinted wingtips,
ugly and awkward as a bony young teenager.
Chlora wondered how come
there were no doves on Easter,
just chicks, chicks, chicks,
and an occasional duck.
Maybe if she put some of her Easter eggs in
an incubator, there’d be a baby dove in one
of them and they could have a resurrection.
There was always a nice surprise
in her Easter basket.
Last year she had received a pocket-sized
New Testament, covered in white eyelet lace
to nicen it up. Today there were
two very cool toys tucked in there.
The bottle of bubbles was always welcomed
and Chlora blew a few big, lazy ones,
while marveling at her own bubbly life,
sheltered but full of imagination.
She saved the rest of the bottle
for the afternoon picnic.
The soap might be handy
if anybody needed a foot washing.
The Easter Bunny had nailed it
with the other toy, a little blue egg of Silly Putty.
There were directions on its package,
but who needed those?
Any kid knows you can make a bouncing ball
out of Silly Putty, mold a fake nose,
or pick up a reversed image from comic books,
sort of mysterious and dubious
like the Shroud of Turin.
She tried it out on a newspaper picture
from the travel section, a photo
from the Pitti Palace in Italy
where they have a whole room painted
with fat little putti cherubs.
This picture showed those silly putti fighting
a losing battle between sacred and profane love.
On Easter you’d think Jesus
would be the front page.
She could capture him with Silly Putty,
then stretch him as far as he would go.
Once it stretches to its limits,
Silly Putty pops, kinda like Jesus
turning over the tables in the temple.
Then they finally get to have the Easter egg hunt in the yard...
They were so lucky that it was a pretty day
and the egg hunt wasn’t indoors.
Last Easter it was rainy. No fair.
And one Easter egg went unfound until summer
when its sulphuric odor announced its presence
under the piano, P. U. !!!
Half-chewed carrots with leafy green tops
were strewn across the porch,
as if the Easter Bunny had worked up
an appetite after hiding all those eggs.
Jerry Pete was raring to go
and had already plotted out his course.
He was an egg-hunting machine,
and Chlora would have to race him
to get all her eggs in one basket,
which was a high risk position these days.
Chlora recognized some of the hard-to-boil
eggs they had made during Holy Week.
She had used up a box of Band-Aids,
sticking them to the eggs
to dip them in the vinegary colors.
On some, she used a little paraffin crayon
to wax on her name or a design,
and it magically appeared as the dye darkened.
But the prettiest eggs were the plain ones,
in solid colors. Seek and ye shall find!
A lavender egg was tucked in the branches
of the forsythia bush.
Nearby a bright blue egg was in the japonica,
and a yellow one in the redbud tree.
Those three blossoms were like
the trinity harbinger of early spring
and Chlora commended the Easter Bunny
on his color sense.
Colored eggs were in low-hanging branches,
tucked in clumps of clover,
in coiled-up garden hoses, and in flower pots.
There was even one down in the watering can.
The thrill of the hunt overtook all three kids,
even Joanie who was too old for such things,
and they ripped through that egg hunt
in no time flat. Chlora overfilled
her beribboned basket,
and promptly got chastised for being greedy.
We search for what we do not have,
but what child really wants hard-boiled eggs?
Somebody said eggs represented
the beginning of the world,
or the Trinity—shell, yolk, and egg white.
But Chlora doubted God was brittle,
rubbery, or smelly like a hard boiled egg.
Or If God was a raw egg,
He’d be like Humpty Dumpty, a slimy mess.
Then all the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put God back together again.
Egghead theology can lead to such conclusions.
Chlora re-hid a bunch of the now-cracked eggs,
and J.P. didn’t know the difference.
He had not been too successful so far
and needed a better search engine.
He had not yet figured out that most eggs were
hidden in the tall grass around tree trunks
where the lawnmower couldn’t reach.
His whines escalated into wails as
Chlora tiptoed through the tulips,
searching high and low for her favorite egg.
It was the plain one dyed deep purple.
She had made it herself on Good Friday,
letting that egg soak up the dark dye
all afternoon.The purple egg had reached
its point of super-saturation;
it could take no more.
Chlora knew just how it felt.
At the sunrise service someone said
you’ll know what you’re looking for
when you find it.
Chlora had one eye peeled
for the giant golden egg.
It was worth looking for, just because
it was what it was.
She had the Midas touch
and would someday get
to the source of all this:
it was not a rabbit but a goose
that laid the golden egg.
Perhaps the Easter Bunny
had a more noble path -- he was
the founder of rabbit trails.
Chlora could not resist a rabbit trail
no matter what.
There it was, down the path to the shed,
a flare of shining gold in a patch of violets.
Chlora had to carefully extract
the big golden egg from a tangle of weeds
that had invaded the violets.
Those just had to grow together
according to some parable.
An icon of St. Peter was on the egg.
Chlora supposed his face was on the egg rather than egg on his face,
because even though he messed up
at least three times, Peter got elected Pope.
Peter had been around a lot this morning,
and in eternity he was the bouncer
at the golden gates, or pearly gates,
which must be something like
those metal detectors at the airport, but prettier.
Jerry Pete careened around the corner right then.
Chlora pointed at the golden egg
in the violet patch.
He ran to it with glee.
The big hunt was officially over now
and Chlora proudly announced to everybody
that her little brother had found the coveted
golden egg, the Peter Prize.
After all, he was his namesake
and it’s good to have that
egg in your own basket.