Chapter 20: Night Four in the Arena (Continued)
I start my story again and hope I’m not interrupted again:
The sun seemed to beam down on District 12 that day as if it was supposed to be some kind of irony. The scent of ash that usually hung in the air reminded people of the constant darkness that threatened to destroy them - but not that day. Despite the ever-growing terror of total obliteration, there was a certain kind of joy in the air; as if people had stopped worrying and learned to be happy once again.
I was trekking down the first street of the merchant section, desperately trying to find the right house. By the time I found the right house, I was practically dragging the laundry bag. You would’ve thought I would despise doing that every week, but I didn’t. It made me feel as though I was really helping my family. Mother may be the one who washed their clothes, but I’d like to think I did my part; bringing the washed clothes back to the people in the Merchant.
Things might’ve been very different that day if Luca showed me around the Merchant like he normally did. I was quite proud of myself for finding the correct address. Clarisse even greeted me with a warm smile – unlike the first day I meet her.
My sister and I, deciding enough was enough, attempted to steal one of Clarisse’s pies from the windowsill. Clarisse, of course, caught us, and being the kindly old woman that she was, let us have the pie. She happened to notice the fact that we were wearing away to the bone and offered us some money on the condition our mother washed her laundry. We whole-heartedly accepted and soon it became a weekly deal. Word got around and soon we were basically doing the whole of the Merchant’s laundry!
It was nice knowing my family had a guaranteed income and I would never have to go back to my stealing days.
That particular day, Clarisse gave me more than a few coins.
“This is the outfit I wore back in my school days” Clarisse said, holding up a blue-checkered pinafore.
“I always thought I’d give it to my daughter some day, but then I ended up only having my son, Hector. Let’s just say blue isn’t his colour” she said, and then she smiled fondly.
“I can’t accept this. Really, it’s too much” I shook my head.
“It would mean a great deal to me. Please take it, and wear it with pride, my girl” Clarisse said, and put a hand on my shoulder.
Even though Clarisse might have been more than a few years past her salad days, there was still an effervescent energy that surrounded her. Clarisse’s presence revitalized the atmosphere. You didn’t need to take more than one look at her to know she had a fantastic life. The creases near her eyes from smiling caused by years of happy marriage, the twinkle in her eye and her hearty laugh – they all told the story of Clarisse Undersee.
“I can’t thank you enough, Mrs. Undersee. My sister will be so jealous.” I said with a laugh.
After more chit-chat, I waved Clarisse goodbye and started to jog home....