Saturday 6 June 2020

'Your Mama's a Hippo' by Clodagh O'Brien

Callum hit me with a Lego brick that made buttons on my shoulder but he doesn’t care cos he cares about nothing but how much he can get away with in front of our teacher as she’s scared to say anything cos of his father with the badge and tinted car and as Callum hits me he tells me me what a stupid hippo my mama is cos he learned what a hippo was after we went to the zoo and he called out to the hippo at the fence saying my mama’s name and didn’t she look lovely and when I told him to shutup he kicked me with the top of his shoe that stabbed but I didn’t let him see how much it hurt but held my shin all the way back on the bus and every day since he’s gone on about the hippo using my mama’s name as if it was his to use and talked about how much my mama likes grass in front of Miss Mulligan who can hear because it’s quiet time but she just gets up and tidies the crayons with her ponytail swaying like a horse and leaves me to ignore him while holding my button shoulder and leaning against the wall wondering if I pushed hard I’d fall through to the other side where the small kids learn colours and numbers and understand none of the things that go on this side of the wall until I hear mama’s voice in the room like bells and she wraps her arms around me and kisses me on the cheek hugging me tight and Callum looks at us with eyes full of water as my mama puts on my coat and wraps the scarf around my neck and as she walks me downstairs I tell her about the Lego and my shoulder and the hippo and she listens in that way to make sure I’m finished before saying anything and rubs me on the wrong shoulder and says not to worry although Callum shouldn’t have done that and as we get to the bottom of the stairs she kneels down and fixes my hat so it isn’t in my eyes and tellls me not to be hard on Callum even though she knows he’s being mean and tells me that his mama is very sick and may not get better so he’s angry and confused so all I can do is be kind because Callum’s just trying to understand something that’s impossible to understand - after she told me that I let it roll in my head and said I’d try and she said that’s all she’d ever want me to do as we walk outside and breathe like dragons all the way home.

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