Daizy Star and the Pink Guitar
My alarm clock goes off at 6.25 a.m. It sounds like a demented fire engine, only louder. I swat at it sleepily and it slides off the bedside table and lands on the floor with a thud.
'Ouch,' says a sleepy voice. 'Who threw that?'
I open one eye and come face to face with two feet, clad in pink fluffy socks. This is a little bit scary, until I remember I am sharing a bed with my best friend Beth. I wrestle her fluffy feet out of the way and peer down at my other best friend Willow, who is lying on the floor in a sleeping bag. She is still wearing the sparkly tiara and fairy wings she had on last night, and she is rubbing her head and trying to muffle the screeching alarm clock with a pillow at the same time.
'Sorry,' I tell her. 'I forgot you were there.'
I wriggle into a sitting position. My room, even in the half-light, looks like a bomb has hit it. The fairy lights that were draped around the curtain rail are hanging down to one side, still twinkling. The floor is littered with empty pizza boxes, crisp packets and Coke cans, and there's nothing left of the double choc chip muffins except a few crumbs and wrappers.
Last night was the best sleepover in the history of the universe, but this morning I'm feeling shell-shocked and sleepy, and Willow still hasn't managed to silence the alarm clock siren.
'What is that racket?' Beth wails, burrowing out from under the duvet with her blonde hair sticking up in clumps. 'It's making my ears hurt!'
'It's the alarm clock!' I say.
'I can't get it to stop,' Willow mutters, twiddling things and pressing buttons and finally shaking it very, very hard. Still it shrieks on.
'Do something!' Beth howls. 'Pleeeease!'
So Willow does. She runs to the window, yanks it open and chucks the alarm clock out into the grey dawn sky. There is a satisfying splash, and then silence.
'I forgot next door had a pond,' she says in a small voice. 'Sorry, Daizy!'
Willow jumps under the covers with Beth and me, the sparkly tiara slightly askew over her dark braided hair. 'Why did it go off, anyway?' she grumbles. 'It's practically the middle of the night!'
'No, no, it's almost six thirty!' I say brightly. 'And that means -'
The bedroom door bursts open, and my family barge into the room in PJs and dressing gowns, whooping and cheering and firing party poppers at the ceiling.
'HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAIZY STAR!' they chorus, and then everyone starts singing, even Willow and Beth.
It's sort of a tradition, you see - every year, on 3 November, my family get up and celebrate my birthday at 6.30 because that is the exact time I was born.
Eleven years ago exactly.
My little sister Pixie jumps on to the bed, making Willow and Beth scream. She jumps up and down, laughing, which really is not natural for so early in the morning, and hands me a still-soggy painting of a glittery mermaid, a wilted daisy chain and a dark, solid, sunken cake with watery white icing and eleven candles on top.
'Aw, thanks, Pixie!' I grin. 'Did you make the cake yourself?'
'Me and Dad did,' Pixie beams.
If Dad was involved it means the cake is probably made of wholemeal, Fairtrade flour, with grated organic carrots and sprouted seeds and no sugar whatsoever. Yippee.
My dad is very keen on healthy eating, which is not always a good thing. It's a good job Mum was in charge of the food for the sleepover last night. She understands that birthday sleepovers need to involve pizza and crisps and Coke and muffins. I guess I can put up with a wholemeal birthday cake after all that lot.
I give Pixie a hug.
'My turn next,' my big sister Becca grins. She is already wearing pink eyeshadow, smudgy eyeliner and black lipstick, even though it is barely daybreak. It is hard work being a Goth. She hands me a parcel wrapped in black tissue paper, and I open it to reveal pink and black fingerless gloves and a necklace made from black velvet ribbon with a silver skull and crossbones on it.
'Thank you, Becca,' I say. 'They're . . . um . . . lovely!'
And then I see that Mum and Dad are carrying presents too. Mum cradles a squarish parcel, while Dad hands me something long and heavy and wider at the bottom, wrapped in silver sparkly paper with a big red bow.
No matter how well it is wrapped, there is only one thing this present could possibly be. And it is something I have always dreamt of.
Well, for the last ten days, anyhow, ever since I spotted the bright pink electric guitar in the window of the music shop in town.
The minute I saw it, I knew that my star quality was destined to be music. At last, I would have a skill, a talent, a purpose in life! I could see myself strumming the pink guitar, writing cool songs and singing them, possibly on MTV. Or maybe just in the privacy of my bedroom - hey, everyone has to start somewhere.
I dropped a lot of hints about the pink guitar, but I didn't dare hope I would really get it, not now Dad has given up his job and money is tight.
I fall on the silver sparkly paper and tear it off with shaking fingers, and there it is, just as I imagined, only better. The pink guitar!
'Cool!' says Beth.
'Awesome!' says Willow.
I launch myself off the bed and throw my arms round Mum and Dad. 'Wow!' I say. 'This is the best present I have ever had in my whole, entire life! Thank you!'
'We thought you should have what you wanted,' Mum says. 'Even though your dad is . . . um . . . between jobs. Becca had a nice birthday present, and Pixie had her swimming party . . . We wanted to be fair.'
'And there's a teeny-tiny scratch on the back, so we got twenty-five pounds off,' Pixie adds helpfully.
I don't care about the teeny-tiny scratch, or the discount. I run my fingertips over the shiny paintwork, twang one of the strings. It feels good.
'You can be a rock star now,' Pixie tells me.
'Yeah, right!' I laugh.
'I could show you a few chords,' Dad suggests. 'I was quite good on the guitar, back in my student days.'
'Hmmm, I remember,' Mum says tactfully. 'I expect we could get you some lessons, Daizy.'
The squarish parcel turns out to be a little amp, and Dad shows me how to plug the guitar in and strum. A loud, crackly, jangling noise floods the bedroom and everyone except Becca clamps their hands over their ears.
'Lessons would be a good idea,' Beth frowns.
'Oh, I don't know . . . that sounded great!' Becca says.
If Becca likes it, I definitely need lessons. And if playing guitar is going to be my star quality, I had better get started right away.
'Anyway,' Dad says, 'happy birthday, Daizy. Eleven years old!'
Mum leans down and lights the birthday candles, and another chorus of 'Happy Birthday' erupts as I blow out the candles, laughing.
'Make a wish!' Pixie squeals.
I close my eyes and wish hard. I'm wishing that this year will be the year I finally find my talent, the one thing I'm really good at, the thing that makes me shine. Eleven would be a good age to discover that.
All the time I'm wishing, I hug the pink guitar close. Please, please let this be it . .