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Clarisse; part 2
“Why are you laughing?”My hands curled into fists and I planted them on my hips.
“I don’t know.” His laughing started up again and then abruptly stopped. “Why?”
“You laugh when I haven’t been funny and you answer right off. You never stop to think what I asked you.” Flames burned dimly in my eyes; I dug my nails into my flesh to stop myself from attacking him. He stopped walking and looked me over.
“You are an odd one. Haven’t you any respect?” he challenged. I took a deep breath, letting the cool air calm my nerves before I answered.
“I don’t mean to be insulting. I just love to watch people too much, I guess.” I let my shoulders rise and fall as if to say I don’t know.
Well, doesn’t this mean anything to you?” He drummed his fingers on the numbers 451 very carefully stitched onto his gray-black sleeve. I let my head fall for a moment.
“Yes,” I murmured. Increasing my pace, I hurried on. “Have you ever watched the jet cars racing on the boulevards down that way?” I nodded my head in the direction opposite us. Montag looked taken aback.
“You’re changing the subject!” he announced.
“I sometimes think drivers don’t know what grass is, or flowers, because they never see them slowly,” I ignored him. “If you showed a driver a green blur, Oh yes! he’d say, that’s grass! A pink blur! That’s a rose garden! White blurs are houses. Brown blurs are cows. My uncle drove slowly on a highway once. He drove forty miles an hour and they jailed him for two days. Isn’t that funny, and sad, too?” I took a frantic glance at Montag’s profile. The corners of his once upturned mouth were now tugged down in a half grimace, half scowl. He looked at me in the corners of his eyes. He looked unnecessarily uneasy.
“You think too many things,” he said staring back ahead, trying to look anywhere but my searching eyes.
“I rarely watch the ‘parlor walls’ or go to races or Fun Parks. So I’ve lots of time for crazy thoughts. Have you seen the two hundred-foot-long billboards in the country beyond town? Did you know that once billboards were only twenty feet long? But cars started rushing by so quickly they had to stretch the advertising out so it would last.”
“I didn’t know that!” He let out a few chuckles then stopped when he caught me watching him with a glare plastered onto my face.
“Bet I know something else you don’t. There’s dew on the grass in the morning,” I pointed out. He looked confused for a minute, like he was trying to figure out if he really did know that. I nodded to the sky. “And if you look, there’s a man in the moon.”
His gaze fell on the moon, which was glowing brightly, and tried to find the camouflaged face. We walked the rest of the way not talking. My silence was more of a thoughtful one; his was more clenching and uncomfortable. He shot me tons of accusing glances, which I waved off in disinterest. When we reached my house all of its lights were burning brightly. I grinned knowingly and Montag reached up to shield his eyes. He acted as if this were the first time he had seen so much light.
“What’s going on?” he asked me quietly. I giggled lowly and responded with a happy tone covering my voice.
“Oh, just my mother and father and uncle sitting around, talking. It’s like being a pedestrian, only rarer,” I rambled. “My uncle was arrested another time- did I tell you? - for being a pedestrian. Oh, we’re most peculiar.” I laughed again, listening to the low mumbling voices from my family inside the house.
“But what do you talk about?” Montag’s voice rose a little. I put a finger to my lips, telling him to be quiet. I giggled once more.
“Good night!” I bounded up the steps. I remembered something and turned around. I skipped back to Montag, who was leaning uneasily on a street lamp post. I looked at him with wonder and curiosity. “Are you happy?” I asked finally after a long silence. He seemed to not believe what he had just heard.
“Am I what?” he cried. I was already running away. I took one more look back. He was frozen on the sidewalk, his right arm outstretched, reaching for me. I slipped in the front door noiselessly. I tried to tiptoe past the living room where my family sat, the picture of ease.
“Clarisse?” my father called. I stopped, busted.
“Hi daddy.” I felt the corners of my mouth hitch up in a smile. “Sorry I’m late.”
“It’s okay darling. How was your night?” my mother’s high-pitched voice rang in the air.
“Fine,” I paused, “Can I go to bed now? I’m really tired.” I winced; lying didn’t come very easily to me. I tried not to let my legs carry me to the couch and sit down with my parents and uncle. I wanted to talk, but couldn’t; at least not right now.
“Sure. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” My uncle twisted in his position on the couch to look at me. His face broke into a smile and I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Sure thing,” I yelled as I raced down the hall to my room. After checking the hallway for any sign of my parents, I eased the door shut.