Tommy wasn't in school today. I didn't know whether to be worried for my friend in case he wasn't well (I wouldn't be surprised- he made a cocktail at Georgia's party and it turned a brown colour which is never promising) or relieved that we wouldn't have another awkward lunch break. All the same Clara and I sat on the benches outside the cafeteria with a couple of other girls in our grade. The usual crowd. Clara was back to her fashion judgement.
'What's your verdict on the girl in that skirt? Is it boho chic or going too far?'
I was just watching everything. It was weird trying not to notice the little things: like how the "tough kid" in twelth grade kept touching his ear. This was usually a sign of nervousness: and I knew for a fact that his father wasn't too stable in his job. It seemed to me like he was contemplating robbery to save his parents' dignity. But I wasn't meant to be noticing these things. I am going to be normal. There.
'My bracelet!' Zoe jumped up as if she'd had an electric shock. 'I had it on a minute ago and now it's gone! Where did it-?'
'It's over there.' I pointed over to the paving by the doors to the cafeteria. I'd seen it loosen as we were coming from french earlier.
'You lifesaver Dani! Seriously, you should be on CSI or something.' I smiled. Maybe I could go back to the crime solving thing... Speaking of which, I'd picked up on a new guy this morning. He'd now come from the cafeteria with a paper lunchbag and was looking around uncertainly. Probably freaked about any cliques. We weren't that kind of school, so I decided to ask him to sit with us.
'Thanks. I'm Matthew Way.' He smiled at me and looked down, as if this had been too formal or something.
'Dani Richards. This is Clara, Zoe and Rebecca.' Matthew lifted his hand in a wave gesture. 'So where did you move from?'
'Oh we live in the area. I had to leave the last school...there was this big bust up. Some kid set the building alight. But it's all sorted out now.'
There was a kind of awkward silence after that. Because what are you meant to say to that? We all just nodded and then Clara pointed out a boy wearing a bandana in disgust. I couldn't help wondering what Matthew knew about this fire, and how it was sorted so quickly. Unless it happened a while back...but he would have gone to a new school by then? I wanted to ask...but that wasn't leaving the crime solving alone. He seemed a nice guy, why couldn't I just leave it? Matthew Way probably has nothing to do with any crimes. Which is very good. Especially considering he kept looking at me and smiling. In the words of Clara, he is "pretty into me".
I'm not kidding. She said those words.