I was dropped off at school a little later than usual, but I didn't mind because nobody wants to spend the majority of their birthday in school. Clara bounded through the gates to meet me, and I braced myself for the running hug.
'Eee! I can't believe we're both seventeen now! That's so old!' She held out a neatly wrapped box triumphantly and I grinned. Seventeen but I still loved getting presents, and Clara's were always something unexpected. You could tell she spent ages picking everything out, which made it alright that she then had somebody else giftwrap it. I lifted out a small silver looped bracelet, with three charms clipped on.
'Thank you so much! You know I've wanted one of these since I was..'
'Since you were six!' Clara beamed. She'd done a good job and she knew it: it was a wonder she hadn't blurted this out earlier. 'I got the dolphin charm because they are your favourite animals, and the bag because...well because that's me.' Clara could really think things through when she put her mind to it: God forbid she should ever stage a robbery. I couldn't resist moving back to my investigative analysis of everything. 'And I got the four leaf clover because everyone needs good luck.'
'You are the best friend ever.'
I received other gifts and greetings that day but it wasn't until the end of the day that I got another surprise. I needed to get something from my locker but as soon as I'd opened the door I saw it. A silver necklace with a single diamond at the end. But this was a proper diamond. As in, it looked expensive. In fact, I knew it was expensive. I'd seen the same necklace the other day in a shop window and had winced at the price tag. Whoever had bought this must have been crazy...and that's when I saw the note.
Happy Birthday. Matthew x
Oh no. Ohh no. This wasn't happening. I quickly shoved the necklace into my bag along with the note and hurried home. This couldn't happen, not now. Any other time...but I was still majorly hankering after Tommy. Not that he ever noticed, which I was glad of. The last thing anybody wants is some unrequited love hanging around and agreeing with everything they say. But in effect isn't that what Matthew was doing? Oh no. Crap crap crap. I should be flattered. I am flattered! But I don't like him in that way... I was reluctant with picking up the phone that evening.
'Hey, Dani. It's Matthew.' Oh noo. Go away Matthew. 'Did you...erm. Did you get the present?'
'Yes and it's absolutely lovely but...' I stopped. Was there ever a good way of putting this? I couldn't just do this over the phone. 'You need to take it back, Matt. It's way too expensive.'
'But you deserve it..' He was not making this easy.
'It doesn't matter, how did you even afford it?' As far as I knew, Matthew did not have...well let's just say he wasn't as blessed financially as Clara and I.
'I...I want you to have it.' I wasn't getting through to him at all, but I didn't want this right now. Not today.
'Look, I have to go now, so I'll see you tomorrow?'
'Ok. Happy birthday.'
I hung up and groaned. Matthew had gone overboard. I can tell the plotline of CSI in minutes. I can identify three different types of bullet (I found Dad's training files when I was thirteen). But I had no idea about how to deal with this.