Thursday, September 30, 1999

Easter Parade -- A Gene Marshall Fan Fiction

Easter Parade
© 1999 by Kathryn E. Darden

"No wonder they call it the windy city," she said to herself as she hurried down the busy Chicago street, clutching her fashionable straw hat.  Trimmed with exquisite colorful flowers, ribbons and tulle, Gene more aptly referred to it  as her Easter bonnet having worn it two weeks earlier.

Two weeks earlier she was home for Easter with her family. After a delicious breakfast she helped prepare with her mother, Gene went with her parents to the small church they had attended since she was a baby for the Easter service, wearing the same ensemble she now wore.

Gene Marshall, already a legend at this fairly early stage of her career, loved Easter and spring. She loved decorating colorful eggs with her mother to put in a basket with coy blossoms peeping out from amid the eggs. She loved the attending the special Easter service with her family, dressing up in her "Sunday best," wearing hats trimmed with flowers.

Actually, Gene just loved spring flowers, from the first crocus that peeped up from the ground as a traditional harbinger of spring to the later flowers: daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, lilies, daisies, and roses. She loved the tender buds on the trees, the hint of warmer weather in the air. Since her birthday was today, two weeks after Easter, she considered flowers and baskets and the warmth of spring to be her birthright. But there was no warmth here, only wind, and in the city it was hard to find flowers.

"It's my birthday, so I will make it spring," she had thought defiantly early that morning as she placed this, her favorite spring hat, at just the right angle on her head. "I will it to be spring," she said determinedly as she donned her smart suit, a soft sage green that spoke to her of new growth, the color a woods takes on as the leaves start their tremulous flowering. Giving herself a final glance of approval in the gilded full-length mirror in her elegant suite (compliments of Monolithic), she marched smartly through the hotel lobby. The doorman in his understated but regal uniform who opened the door for her looked admiringly at her retreating figure. From the top of her floral bonnet to the toes of her matching pumps, Gene Marshall was the essence of spring, an Easter parade of one.

Now Gene decided she had made a big mistake, fighting the wind for possession of her hat, noting the overcast sky and feeling the icy blast of the Midwestern wind through the thin material of her sage green suit. She hurried on to the fashionable downtown restaurant where she was to meet the local fan club. This was not the way she had wanted to spend her birthday. Gene Marshall loved her fans, but she loved her family more. She had intended to spend the two weeks between Easter and her birthday with her close friends and family at home, but Monolithic Studios and her own agent had conspired to send her on a publicity tour for the past week and a half ending here, in this windy,  cold and lonely place that was Chicago.

Spotting the restaurant across the street, Gene was startled to find that she was hurrying past a small park. Almost hidden behind a brick fence, a small garden beckoned. Gene made a quick decision after checking the time and quickly found the entrance. She slowed her pace as she walked down a quaint path. Here were trees, trees with a hint of green showing. A robin chirped at her as she strolled by. Then a ray of light broke through the clouds and illuminated a patch of lovely woodland flowers. "Why, it IS springtime, even in Chicago!" thought Gene. She felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, and soon she was humming.

Glancing at her watch, Gene once again turned her steps towards the restaurant. As she crossed the street, a lady and gentleman stepped forward to greet her. At that moment the sun made its appearance as the last of the clouds left the sky. "Miss Marshall, I believe you have brought spring with you," said her handsome host. Her hostess commented on Gene's lovely suit and hat as she ushered her into the private room festooned with flowers. When they entered the room, the gathered crowd broke into the familiar strains of "Happy Birthday to You" but above the singing she heard an even more familiar sound. "Why, I'd know that fancy Easter bonnet anywhere," boomed a beloved voice. There at the table of honor, almost hidden behind a huge basket brimming with flowers, were her mother and father, a very special gift from her loving fan club.

Gene had a wonderful time with her Chicago fans and her family, and came to regard Chicago as one of her favorite places. In later years she was heard to say that she loved Chicago for its grand buildings, its beautiful lake shore, its wonderful shopping, the theaters and the many lovely fans who lived there. "But most of all, I love Chicago because it was there I learned you can find springtime anywhere as long as you carry it in your heart."

written for a designer's entry into a fashion competition 

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