Claire didn’t mind Stephen. He was alright. She wasn’t sure why she had him on Facebook as they never talked and she couldn’t picture his face without stalking his profile, but he was harmless enough.
But when it came to writing on his wall for his birthday, she just couldn’t do it. It’s not like she wanted him to have a shitty birthday. It’s not that she thought he was unworthy of birthday cheer. For some inexplicable reason, she just couldn’t bring herself to say those two little words.
So when Facebook sent her a notification reminding her to wish him a happy birthday, she thought it was a bit pushy, but clicked off it and got on with her day.
Then during a meeting with Barbara from accounts, she got a text from an unknown number.
It’s Stephen’s birthday.
Sliding the lock on her screen, she leaned back in her chair. ‘Probably just a coincidence,’ she told herself.
After returning home from work, she threw her keys on the kitchen table and headed towards the fridge. Grabbing a jar of pickles, she nudged the fridge door shut, before gasping and dropping the jar to the floor.
Arranged in plastic letters on the fridge were the words ‘WISH STEPHEN A HAPPY BDAY’.
“What the fuck?” Claire said.
Checking her door and window, she closed her curtains and sat on the couch to watch Coronation Street. Her eyes heavy, she felt herself drifting off.
A few hours later, she jolted awake to a curious rustling sound.
Peering over her couch, she watched as a note was pushed under her door.
Her hands trembling, Claire got up off the couch and opened the note.
Do U wAnT to WiSH sTePhEn a HaPpY bIRthDaY?
SEVEN YEARS LATER
Claire had moved to Costa Rica, grown a handlebar moustache and bought some Gucci sunglasses, but The Facebook Birthday Wish had tracked her down.
She was tired of looking over her shoulders. She was tired of running. Of living in motels, paying in cash, and taking on a new identity in every godforsaken town.
As she nursed a double whiskey at the bar in some scummy downtown joint, the bartender called over to her.
“Hey, chica,” he shouted. “Some hombre has left a message for you. Feliz cumpleaños for some Stephen dude. That mean anything to you?”
Claire downed the rest of her whiskey in one burning shot, and pushed some crumpled-up cash onto the bar. She now realised that she would never escape.
Back in her motel room, she booted up her laptop and logged into Facebook.
Taking a deep breath, she clicked on Stephen’s profile and began to type.
Under the glare of the streetlamp outside, The Facebook Birthday Wish smiled. Its work here was done.