Tomas liked working at SupaValu, really liked it. He’d never paid much attention at school so he didn’t have many qualifications, but at SupaValu that didn’t matter. You do good work, you get on in the company. Tomas worked hard and paid attention now and he hoped this could be his way into a career rather than just another job.
Even more than that, Tomas liked working at SupaValu because he never had to explain his past to anyone. It was almost a new start for him, as if all those earlier years filled with unpleasant memories of growing up in an inner city had never happened. Here he could be normal, along with the other oddballs hiding out.
Tomas had few very early memories, even fewer good ones, but he did remember spending a hot summer at the seaside, sand getting in his shoes and pants and hair every day. But he didn’t mind because he was with them, a little blond girl with ringlets and black patent shoes, and a woman who held his hand and stroked his hair when he couldn’t sleep. Then something happened, he couldn’t recall what, and both the woman and the girl were gone.
For years he thought it was his fault and that he must have done something wrong. Thousands of nights in dozens of temporary beds could only mean he was really bad. Tomas grew quiet and introvert, trying very hard to never ever be bad in case even temporary beds disappeared too. He was twelve when he learnt that the girl was his sister Carly and the woman his mother. And that his mother had been killed in a car crash at the end of that summer. Tomas wondered what had happened to his sister and felt just a little bit less alone. And he wondered why he found boys attractive not girls. Didn’t he have enough to deal with?
His social worker helped him track down his sister who had been adopted by a family in the Home Counties. As soon as he was old enough Tomas moved from his inner city existence and moved close to where she was. And they met up, not expecting too much at first, but quickly rekindled their sibling relationship. Carly remembered that summer too and had known for years that their mother had died, but she had been warned against contacting him until he was older.
Tomas and Carly met weekly and chatted about everything. Tomas talked about his days in foster homes and children’s homes and growing up gay in those places, whilst Carly talked about her relationship with Jake. She loved him but he was jealous and possessive to the point where Carly was thinking she might need to finish with him. Tomas felt very protective of Carly but she wouldn’t let him intervene and have a word with her boyfriend.
Tomas was wondering if there was any way to find out who this Jake was, as he smoked his cigarette on a break in the SupaValu car park. He overheard two guys talking in front of him about a Jake who thought his girlfriend was messing about with someone who worked at SupaValu and Tomas wondered if he needed to have a word with another nuisance guy. Then it occurred to him maybe Jake thought HE was the threat to his and Carly’s relationship. He was worried that apparently Jake was coming to look for him but knew ten years in care had taught him how to look after himself.
A speeding red car crashed into a blue car in the car park, startling all the smokers with the loud bang it made. One of the guys headed off towards the crash saying he’d better see if Jake was still looking for the one he’d come to see and the other said he was needed back in work. Tomas turned and went inside just ahead of him, thinking that even if he could look after himself, there was no point in being a standing target now was there?