Claire is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Darcy, and their only child. Growing up, her parents kept her mostly at home, and Marie raised Claire to be kind and gracious with little to no exposure to the realities of Odland. Mr. Darcy was a respectable foreman at a nearby mining facility, and he always made sure to clean himself up before arriving home. It was uncommon for Claire and Mrs. Darcy to see him in anything less than clean clothes and a smile on his face.
However, when Claire was nearing her 16th birthday, her mother began to show signs of illness, and both Claire and Mr. Darcy realized she wouldn’t last much longer. They did their best to make her comfortable, but the illness upon Marie was fatal and viscious – leaving Claire and Mr. Darcy haunted by her final days.
After Marie died, Mr. Darcy increasingly turned to drink and gambling. Most nights, her father came home drunk and smelling of booze, if not covered in grunge. Seeing the desctructive path he was on, Claire tried to stop him but her words fell on deaf ears.
With Mr. Darcy barely making it to-and-from home, Claire realized she would need to take over shopping at the markets to keep them from starving. The first time she went, her pouch was stolen in the first hour. The second time, she kept the pouch, but when she went to pay for a small treat before the main shopping, the pouch was empty. In the following visit, when she attempted to bargain for actual provisions the result was not a fair exchange. In fact, the vendors seemed more interested in her body than in her credits. As she continued to reject the vendors’ advances, Claire saw the prices increase, and the resulting disappointment from her father made Claire even more determined to please him and make his life easier now that Marie was gone.
This time when she went to the markets, she took a seat at one of the windows, ordered some terrible tasting tea, and watched the bustling business around her. What she saw was shocking. Her mother had raised her so differently from the women around her. They spoke quickly and almost unintelligably, but they said just enough with their bodies that the vendors would practically hand them what they needed. Claire realized that these women weren’t following up on the suggestive poses and words they used, but that the flirting and “fun” they displayed seemed to be enough. The vendors were giving them discounts just for being pleasant to work with and talk to.
Claire thought of her previous visits here, and felt ashamed of her behaviour. No wonder these vendors hadn’t given her any deals, she had behaved as though she were better them and that she deserved their discounts. Shaking her head, Claire paid for her tea and rose from the place she had been sitting.
She went to a new vendor and looked over the produce available. When the man approached, she smiled sweetly and spoke softly to the vendor while looking him directly in the eyes – as though nothing else in the world mattered but him. The man stuttered and started putting things into her arms with haste. As if this was normal, Claire thanked him for his help and asked what she owed. The man said an amount that was miniscule when compared to her last visit to the market. Claire paid him with slow movement so as not to appear excited, and headed home.
This time she had succeeded, and she couldn’t wait for her father to come home.
On arrival, she found that her father was home early. Not questioning this, Claire was excited to share her success and as she pulled her prizes from her bags, her father seemed to have a glint in his eyes. Claire felt that it was pride. She knew she must’ve done well.
The next day, Mr. Darcy returned to his prior cleanliness and steadfast dependency. Claire was pleased and felt that this change was a positive result of her success. The only difference now was that he did not get up early to go to the mine as he usually did; citing that he would be working the night-shift as of today, and that he would be needing Claire to prepare meals for him to bring with him in the afternoon. Claire did as he bid, and waved farewell when he headed to his shift.
For two years, Claire continued to take care of the home as her mother had done. She rarely saw her father due to the night-shifts that had become longer and more often, but she had made many connections with the vendors at the market and was content.
One day when Claire was sitting quietly on a bench in her yard, she looked up at the sound of someone greeting her. The young man in front of her was well-dressed and was smiling: he looked as her father had once looked before her mother died. Claire stood and greeted him politely, and asked if the man would care for some tea, to which he accepted just as politely.
While the water heated, the man asked if her father might be home. Claire apologized and said that her father worked nightshifts and wouldn’t be home until the following morning. The man asked where he worked, and Claire told him the name of the mining company. For a moment the man looked surprised and worried, but then he stood quickly and excused himself. He was gone before the water had boiled.
Claire felt concerned for the first time in years.
The next day when her father returned, Claire asked for a moment of his time before he would retire. Her father looked irritated before nodding. Claire gave her father his breakfast and sat across from him while she told him what had happened the day before. When she mentioned how the man had left quickly, Mr. Darcy flew into a rage and grabbed her by her throat, “what have you done?!” Mr. Darcy then threw Claire away from himself and fled from the house in a flury of dust.
Shocked, Claire stayed where she had fallen by the wall for hours. When she became aware again, it was to see that there were three men standing infront of her, and it was pitch-black outside. These men looked somewhat similar to the man from the previous day, but something was wrong. Without a word they took her arms and led her from the house. Claire, still in shock, went docily where they led her.
Eventually she was taken to an old warehouse and brought inside where she could see her father tied to a chair, he had been badly beaten. She cried out and tried to go to him, but her arms were still being held. The man in front of Mr. Darcy then said aloud that if Mr. Darcy did not pay him, then he would be forced to kill the girl. Claire looked around wildly and realized that these men were all from the mine, the mine where her father was a foreman. When she tried to say as much, the man threatening her father laughed and informed her that Mr. Darcy had been fired years ago. Claire asked her father if this was true and he nodded. Claire turned to the man and asked what was owed. When he said the amount she turned to her father and asked what the combination to the safe was and she would go and get it. Mr. Darcy started laughing. And his laugh was not of humor, but of madness. Mr. Darcy said that it would not matter, the safe was empty.
In that moment, many things happened at once. Firstly, the power went out and the sounds of gunshots began ringing about the room. Claire’s arms were released, but she was quickly pulled away from the shots and screams by an unknown hand. Once outside, Claire looked up into the eyes of the man from the previous day. He told her that she would need to run, and never come back. He handed her a small purse with credits, gave her his jacket, and then pushed her away. The door flew open and before Claire could even take a step, her savior turned around and began firing, yelling at Claire to run.
Claire ran. She ran for so long that her chest hurt, and her throat burned. When she finally stopped, she was unsure of where she was. Panicked, she looked about for a way to hide herself and saw a dumpster. Without thinking she leapt inside and covered herself in the contents. Shortly after hiding she heard footsteps and yelling. Claire pulled herself into a tiny ball and tried not to breathe. The sounds left but Claire refused to move. Eventually, Claire could begin to hear laughter from a nearby bar. She slowly unlocked her sore muscles and tried to climb out. After some struggle, she set her foot down on the ground. Her leg shook. And as she set the other foot down, she collapsed.
She awoke to a pair of large green eyes belonging to a furry face that licked her. Gagging, she brushed the animal away and sat up. She was in a bed, and wearing an unknown nightgown. An elderly woman appeared in the doorway and greeted her. Claire recognized her as old Mrs. Watts, one of the vendors from the market. Claire tried to speak, but all that came out was a croak, and then she bagan sobbing. Mrs. Watts sat down beside her and tried to offer comfort.
Mrs. Watts admitted to knowing about the trouble that Mr. Darcy was in, but that none of the vendors had been able to tell Claire the truth. They had all agreed to help Claire silently, and say nothing. Now though, she wished she had said something sooner.
After listening to Mrs. Watts, Claire didn’t say a word, still thinking through what had happened.
Mrs. Watts, with sad eyes, told Claire that she would need to change her appearance, they would be looking for her. Silently, Claire nodded. Mrs. Watts then left the room and came back with scissors and hair dye. She chopped off Claire’s beautiful, long blond hair. And dyed it soft brown – almost dull, so as not to draw attention. Mrs. Watts then said that the other vendors knew what had happened, but they all had sworn to protect Claire. They couldn’t protect her for long though, so the sooner Claire could leave the area, the better. Claire would need to think of a new name, and leave everything behind. She could never go home.
In that moment, Claire was lost, but now angry. She had nothing and was nothing.
Only now, with the death of her mother and father, and even herself, was Claire finally seeing the truth of the world she lived in. No longer were her days going to be filled with songs and poetry, but instead with the reality of Odland: a dirty, and dangerous place of outlaws and lies.
My name? Is CD.