I never really understood the appeal of diamonds until I saw one, up close. I still remember my first encounter with one. All the girls in the orphanage were obsessed with glitter and things that sparkled. I was more into getting bruised knees and things that screamed “I-dare-ya!”, following by something I considered extreme.
Being dared to jump off the giant brontosaurus in the dinosaur exhibit on the year eight school trip, for example.
I did it, of course. It was followed by three detentions, two isolations, and a long talk with the principal and a letter home. The letter never made its way home, and til’ this day, none of the adults know about that fateful day. If they did, oh man, they’d have a field day. I probably wouldn’t have been alive to make it into college.
I was fifteen when I saw my first diamond. It was this minuscule gem that was imprinted on a very expensive cardigan. But, it caught my eye. Almost immediately. The way it sparkled in the light, the way I imagined that the stars sparkled in space, stopped me in my tracks. It was so small, yet it was so pretty. At that moment, I understood why so many people wanted to have diamonds in their lives. On their hands, in their clothes, on their shoes, even on their underwear.
I couldn’t move. All I knew was that I wanted the diamond. Despite the size, and how much I knew that I would lose it, I still wanted it.
Of course, it was also the reason why I got charged with petty theft. If I had kept on running, past the security guards huffing and puffing after me and my other friends, I would’ve gotten away with it. If it wasn’t for the tiny gem that caught my eye. I tried to yank the cardigan off the hanger but I ended up falling on top of the nearest mannequin.
Also got charged for indecent exposure. I really didn’t mean to flash those kids, but the mannequin’s hand landed somewhere it shouldn’t have landed. Trying to adjust the hand just made it worse, and the police officer simply refused to believe me. Apparently, it was the most “creative excuse” that he’s ever heard of.
Annie was not happy that day. She had to pick up one of the other kids from isolation that same day, and she was stressed. I probably didn’t help the situation but at least, I didn’t go to jail! Annie managed to convince the nice police officer with her womanly charms, i.e. told him how handsome he was in a suit, and gave him a fake number so that he could drop by sometime. She even convinced him not to put it on my criminal record, but she also had to agree to a date with him. That meant she had to give him her number. Her real number. Man, she was not happy about that.
The things I do for love, eh?
The first time I stole a diamond? I like to look at it as borrowing, the same way you would borrow a book and then consciously forget to return it each time. Then, your fine just keeps growing until you make the choice just to enjoy your book without fearing the consequences. Then, it just keeps happening until it becomes a habit.
I swear, the first time was a total accident. I really didn’t mean to - it fell into my pocket. When I was seventeen, this old guy, with wrinkles that probably had people living inside of them, bumped into me in a jewellery store. He had the audacity to complain that I was a clumsy little girl who had no concept of space and time. Bit rude, if you ask me. Annie was talking to the pompous jewel dealer behind the counter, and little Sammy was sleeping in the pushchair, so her eye wasn’t on me anymore.
I walked around the shop, just looking at the pretty jewels that adorned necklaces and the rings, and there he was again. He had this monocle piece on, and was looking through the diamond. I wondered what he was looking at, and I wanted to ask him but he jumped up suddenly. He dropped the diamond that he was holding and I was so taken aback by his sudden movement that I didn’t notice that the diamond had rolled off the table and into my pocket. Heck, he moved faster than any of the old men that I’ve seen on the bus. Never saw him again, and Annie soon got sick of the shop itself, so we left. I didn’t know I had the diamond until I was sat in front of the TV, watching a news station report on its “renowned diamond.” The diamond on the TV looked exactly like the one the man was holding, but I never really put two and two together until I was emptying my coat.
It fell out onto the floor and I stepped on it. Its sharp edges dug into the bottom of my big toe, and I yelped in pain. The sparkle caught my eye, and the same sense of serenity flooded me as I picked the diamond up. It had this pale tinge of yellow to it, but it was mostly white.
My hands automatically dropped to the side, the way it did when I usually caught for something. Dan was standing there, him in his fifteen-year-old puberty-ridden glory, with his SpongeBob boxers taking a peek on what it’s like on the outside world. His brown eyes darted from me to my hand and back to me again. He knew better than to ask me what had happened. Last time, it ended up with Chinese burn bruises and they weren’t on my wrist.
“Uh, Annie wants you downstairs.”
I nodded, and turned around to put the diamond in my treasure box. Dan was still there; I could feel his presence still in the doorway. He was watching me; I could feel his gaze still on my hands. I turned around, staring him down till he eventually realised where he was and closed my door. I placed the diamond in the zipped compartment of my treasure box, filled with little things that were precious to me. Like the first stone that was found embedded in my knee cap, that one time I decided that it’d be a great idea to do a backflip off the roof.
Let’s just say that, it didn’t end very well.
That night, we saw Annie and Marcus, one of the many guardians assigned to Hope Springs, arguing with one of the creditors on the phone. Annie was almost in tears, and I’ve never seen the woman shed a tear in my life. Marcus was a big harmless bear, and to see him almost rip the phone apart with his bare hands was almost scary.
Not as scary as the time he lost at Mario Kart. Against me, must I add.
“How are we gonna raise four-thousand-pounds in one week?” Annie said, in between her sobs.
Four-thousand-pounds? Dan and I looked at each other in shock. We scrambled upstairs, once we realised that Marcus was walking towards us. I knew what I had to do. The next day, I hopped on a bus to the next town, away from all the press about the missing diamond, and went to a jewellery shop.
Had to make some lie up, about how I found this stone in my late grandma’s drawer, when I was clearing out her stuff. The jeweller wasn’t convinced until I dropped some crocodile tears into the mix, about how she just died recently and how much I missed her. Such a nice man, he offered me a can of coke and a sandwich.
“This, this is magnificent! This is a 1.24 carat, Canary Yellow Diamond! I have a customer looking for this exact one!” He gushed, taking the little monocle piece off his head. “I’ll offer you four-thousand-and-five-hundred-pounds.”
Later that day, Annie ran into the kitchen, where most of us were seated, crying and almost half-screaming unintelligible words at us. All she kept doing was pointing to the brown envelope, and all I could make out was “ohmigawd!” and “there’s four-thousand-and-four-hundred pounds here!” Marcus scrambled out of his chair and threw himself at the envelope. He then jumped up, with tears in his eyes and swung Annie round in a circle.
You think I’d give them everything? I had to keep a bit for myself, of course. I was the one who went through the whole tumultuous journey of getting a bus and having and having the local townie chatter in my ear about her “son who just found out that he wasn’t the true father of her grandchild.” Fifty pounds went to my bank account, while the other fifty was spent on a new jacket.
Pretty nifty jacket too, had pockets all over the place. Inside, outside, even on the inside of the sleeves. Meant that I could store things everywhere. Including the multiple gems that just happened to make its way into my hands.
Not my fault for being at the right place, at the right time. People just love making a ruckus, that’s why I pride myself on giving myself a well-deserved five fingered discount. Last time, there was a protest against the wages for cleaners happening outside of ‘Lillies’ – an expensive jewellery and a clothing shop – and there was this magnificent, princess-cut blue diamond sitting there on the desk.
So, I smuggled the smaller, rounder white diamond into my sleeve, and re-adjusted my glasses. This one wouldn’t go for as much, I knew it but I couldn’t just swipe the other diamond in broad daylight. Plus, my face is pretty noticeable. Dark skin, with dark freckles scattered over the tip of my nose, and a beauty spot under my deep-set brown eyes. No matter the amount of concealer that I apply to that beauty spot, it never seems to cover it.
Nobody seemed to know who I was either. Most of the TV stations seemed to think that I was a man in my thirties with a knack for stealing, but they never looked at the girl in her twenties with a masters in thieving.