Sunday, April 12, 2009
Elizabeth, Jordan, and the Easter Egg Hunt Rumble.
Her mother winced at the price. It was customary for Elizabeth to receive an Easter dress but never one that expensive. Elizabeth's tastes were changing as she got older. She paid closer attention to what the other girls were wearing and felt because she had a hyphenated last name (Barriston- Meyer) she should have the very best. Her dresses had to be nicer than those girls with only one last name. She insisted and her parents paid whatever the price to keep their only child happy.
The Saturday before Easter was reserved for pictures. Elizabeth spent two hours preparing. Her hair was done by the beautician who lived next door. Mrs. Barriston Meyer stopped doing her daughter's hair a year ago. Apparently her styles were too common. Elizabeth knew the look she wanted from the teen magazines she purchased with her allowance every week.
During the drive to Kiddy Kandids on the High Street Elizabeth sat motionless on a towel spread over the back seat of the family car. Her white gloved hands laid daintily in her lap. From time to time she asked her father to adjust the rear view mirror so she could , for the hundredth time, check her hair.
It took Elizabeth twenty minutes to decide on the proper back drop at Kiddies Kandids. In the end she chose the outdoor backdrop and the pillar. The picture was taken once she approved the camera's angle.
Elizabeth rose early on Easter Sunday to prepare for Mass. She pleaded with her daddy to wash and wax the car. He obliged. She manipulated events at home to be sure they arrived late to church. She wanted everyone seated for her grand entrance. She walked slowly through the chapel, forcing a cough from time to time to attract attention. She looked for the other girls in her school class and was sure to wave and swoosh her dress.
The Barriston-Meyers found a pew near the front of the chapel. Elizabeth turned to take a seat and stopped. What she saw sitting before her caused her to take a step back onto her father’s shoe. Sitting there looking at her with a smile steatching from ear to ear was Jordan Boyer, the biggest tomboy in her grade. Jordan’s hair was a rat’s nest and her dress a plain earthy brown. Mr. Barriston Meyers pushed Elizabeth from the back to encourage her to keep moving so the family could sit.
“Sit Down,” her father said impatiently. Elizabeth obeyed. She sat down beside her universal opposite. You’ve heard of oil and water, light and dark, good and evil? Well, I give you Elizabeth and Jordan.
“Don’t look at me,” Elizabeth said in disdain to Jordan. “You smell and your look as unkempt as your mother,”
“I lost my peppermint,” Jordan said as she leaned toward Elizabeth.
“Don’t come any closer,” Elizabeth answered while turning her nose away.
Jordan repeated, “I lost my peppermint. I think it may be under you. I think you’re sitting on it. I’m hoping it isn’t there because I can't imagine a peppermint stain on your pretty pink dress.”
Elizabeth jumped to her feet just as the alter boy rang the bell. She felt the back of her dress. Her gloved hand found something sticky and round. She gasped in disbelief. Jordan laughed loud enough to capture an angry look from the Priest. Tears welled in Elizabeth’s eyes. Mrs. Barriston-Meyer saw the hurricane forming and quickly took her hand and dragged her to the rest room. They got through the door into the Ladies just as the scream escaped. Elizabeth and her mother spent the rest of the Mass on the back pew.
After Mass the children gathered on the church’s grassy knoll for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Elizabeth vowed revenge on Jordan and began the process of discovery. Somewhere on the vast green carpet covered in all colors of eggs was the money egg. It was a plastic egg with one Golden Florin, donated by the Knight of Columbus. Mr. Barriston Meyer knew the grounds keeper and the grounds keeper was the one who hid the eggs. Elizabeth used her little girl's persuasive techniques of tears and pleading to convinced her father to bribe the grounds keeper to reveal the general location of the money egg. Jordan watched from a distance knowing what was happening. The children stood against the rope waiting for the whistle. The shrill sound was followed by the screams of children and the shouting of their hopeful parents.
There was only one thing in the universe that could get Elizabeth to act on her primeval instincts - gold. She ran down the hill passing candy eggs of all sizes and descriptions. Jordan followed behind. The two girls moved quickly away from the pack of other children. It looked odd to the spectators to see two lone girls moving to a section of the lawn seemingly void of color. Elizabeth stopped at the designated point. She looked around and then heard a sound. She turned. Behind her at five paces stood Jordan.
“Why are you following me,” she demanded.
“I saw your dad talking to the ground’s keeper,” Jordan answered with a smile. “You know where the money egg is don’t you?”
Elizabeth clenched her fists. This meant war. She dropped her flowered basket, peeled off her gloves and started looking for the egg. Jordan immediately followed. Both girls hovering around each other for a moment, then separating for another minute then back together again.
Something near an old maple tree caught Jordan’s eye. She spun on her heels and ran. Elizabeth was looking through a patch of crab grass unaware of Jordan’s discovery. A moment later she heard the screaming.
“I found it. I found it,” Jordan shouted toward her parents and a nearby hunt judge. Her excitement was silenced by a deep dark voice from behind.
“It’s my egg and I want it.”
Jordan turned and saw Elizabeth walking toward her slowly and with conviction.
“I found it. You didn’t and so that makes it mine,” Jordan answered.
“Give it to me right now,” Elizabeth said with the look of a starved animal cornering a helpless meal.
“Never,” Jordan replied with a look of steel.
The sound coming from the old maple tree was so astonishing that all the children in the hunt stopped and looked. The spectators heard it as well. It was like the gates of hell were opened and demons were released on the land.
“Fight,” one of the older boys shouted. Most of the children ran toward the tangled bodies rolling on the lawn. There were screams, scratching, hair pulling, punching, and kicking. Soon blood was added to the grass stains covering both dresses.
The Hunt judges were the first adults to arrive on the scene. With a great deal of effort the two girls were separated. Elizabeth’s dress was in tatters. Her face covered in blood, mucus, and grass clippings. Jordan was in better shape but not by much. Their mouths continued what their fists didn’t resolve. The other children were rushed away to prevent them from hearing and seeing something usually only seen in a barroom brawl.
Both parents arrived and carried their daughters away. Jordan had the money egg. The hunt judge saw her discover it and certified the victory. Elizabeth lost and learned a lesson that day. Money and looks can take you places and get you things but never ever discount pure guts, determination and cleverness.
It was an Easter Egg hunt Cloverdale will never forget.