Sam was petrified. He’d never even thought about anything like this before and he wasn’t sure he could go through with it. Some of his mates had been nicking stuff from shops for years and they hinted he must be a wuss not to do the same. But he had a strong sense of right and wrong and stealing wasn’t in the ‘right’ category and that applied to kids in SupaValu as much as to bankers and fat cat businessmen.
He wouldn’t be doing it now if it wasn’t for Julia. Oh Julia, his one true love, melter of the teenage heart. She hadn’t asked him to go lifting but she needed this and neither of them had any money. The perils of teenage life in a consumer society. And it was definitely not the sort of thing he could ask his parents to give him a sub for either.
Sam started off with somewhere small in mind. Little shops would have very limited security, surely. If there was only one person working they could hardly serve at the counter, replenish the shelves and watch the stock could they? But then pangs of guilt took over and all the little places he had in mind were run by families working hard for their money, with lined faces to show for all the hours and he would know exactly who he had stolen from. At least SupaValu was large and faceless and probably added a top slice on to cover losses anyway. Yes, SupaValu it was then.
The walk from his house was half an hour and Sam decided -morning would be the time least likely to bump into someone he might know. His mother shopped there on Tuesday evenings and he would have to find excuses not to go with her for the next few weeks in case he was recognized. And it looked like that officious security guard might have just clocked him.
The guard looked very different from the average £7.50 an hour security staff normally hired in a place like SupaValu. He looked like he gave a shit for a start. His uniform was smart and clean and his shoulders were just a little bit further back than most. And his boots were probably shined with spit-and-polish mixed together, rubbed in with a careful fingertip. Wherever Sam went, the guard appeared soon after. It didn’t help that he was standing next to the Kindles when the guard really noticed him. His mother had been hinting she would like one for Christmas so Sam wondered what they were all about. Bad move. He just looked like he was about to pocket one.
Outside there was a big crash and bang. Sam, the guard and many of the shoppers in the store turned to look at the cause. A car had been reversing out of a space and another one hit it without stopping it looked like. The guard was clearly torn between rushing outside to take charge of the situation and staying inside and trailing Sam some more. He took a little book out of his pocket and started making notes, walking towards the front door. With one last backwards glance, a look of resignation on his face, he left Sam inside the store and went outside to the crash.
Many of the shoppers had stopped to watch the commotion, which now included an angry young man getting out of his car and surveying the dents at the front of his car. Sam could see shiny-shoed guard trying to talk to him and the driver becoming more irate as the guard began to relish his task more. Whilst everyone was looking away, Sam made his way to the back of the store, to the pharmacy area.
Scouring the shelves, he saw pink packets and silver boxes and blue bags and bottles that were clear and engraved and tinted and shaped and coated. How did Julia ever find her way around this apothecarial nightmare? Sam had explicit instructions and detailed packaging advice but he still struggled to find exactly what she had sent him for. They all looked the same. Didn’t they all work the same?
Then, there in a pale blue box was his goal. One of the devices with 2 windows and lines, so you knew if the result was positive as well as when the test was finished. There was a security sticky on the back of the box and Sam really didn’t want to get caught shoplifting a pregnancy test kit. He undid the box and took out the sticks inside. He slipped them inside his hoodie, into his shirt pocket where they nestled next to a biro and a pencil so that any rigid bulges could be easily explained away.
Sam really wanted to look a bit longer at the Kindles, to see if he could afford one for his Mum, but he needed to get off home to Julia. They needed to use her first morning water and she was hanging on for him.