Tom was one of my neighbours and friends with my eldest brother. He came around to our house a lot and he was always kind to me. Most of the older kids on our street were too cool to talk dorky little me playing with barbies or collecting insects but Tom would come over and ask me what I was doing. I don’t think he ever played barbies with me but I remember one time in our front yard he held my hands and we went spinning around and around. I laughed so much and my eldest brother looked on both curious and bored.
I was aware that my brother and some of the other neighbourhood kids sometimes avoided Tom but I didn’t understand why. They were young too so I doubt they even really knew what was going on but their instincts and Tom’s behaviour led to their avoidance. My brother told me to avoid Tom too. He was being protective not mean but I was curious and later found out that Tom used to turn up at our house at odd times and once he brought a knife with him. He wanted to hurt my brother. He was not well.
We stopped seeing Tom. I think he went into hospital and then for years I never heard anything about him until he had taken his own life. His family moved away shortly after that. I can still picture his smiling face as we spun around in circles. Maybe he could relate to me because I was so young or maybe he could see my fragility long before anyone else could.