Billy: Boy Statue (excerpt from The Zoo)

by Callum B. Downes

It was another Monday morning and here he was, standing completely still at the school gate, wishing the butterflies in his stomach would flutter away to a land far, far away, full of lava pits and acid rain. Livy had ran off to play with her friends a minute ago, leaving Billy in his little dream world. He couldn’t stop thinking about the Bradley’s new water feature with the beard and wrinkles. Who had moved it down the street to Mrs Berry’s house? Why on Earth did an angel have a beard? Was it being stole…

Whack! Billy’s thoughts were cut short by a missile of human saliva. Joel King, a ruddy little red-head boy from kindergarten had spat directly in his face, scoring a direct hit in his eye.

“Statue boy! Statue boy! You’re so slow,” he yelled, running away back behind the office block.

The situation was made all the more embarrassing when a group of year 4 boys, from Billy’s class in fact, shoved past him with a firm push to the back and giggled under their breath. The whiplash from the shove cracked his neck and Billy tilted his head to the side, rubbing hopelessly for the pain to go away.

“Here we go again,” Billy sighed to himself, forcing his body into an awkward shuffle past the office block. He went through the cola area, which was packed with screaming creatures – half animal, half child – all missing mummy and burning off the morning’s Weet-Bix.

And que the chorus, in three, two, one. “Statue boy, statue boy, why so stuck?!” At first, only a small group of Livy-worshipping year five girls joined in the chant. Before long, the entire zoo enclosure full of half-children were singing at the top of their lungs, like some awful school choir at the end of year musical.

STATUE BOY, STATUE BOY, WHY SO STUCK?

STATUE BOY, STATUE BOY, WHY SO STUCK?

STATUE BOY, STATUE BOY, WHY SO STUCK?

The chanting grew into more of a deep rumble and had a strong beat to it. Some of the kindy kids started clapping and stomping wildly, rolling their eyes into the backs of their heads, screaming “LA LA LA” and missing every third clap completely.

Billy put his head down and raced out of the cola, zoomed through the veggie garden, jumped up the stairs to his classroom, dumped his bag on the veranda and fell over into 3 / 4 C, slamming the door shut behind him. The great mob of students who had been chasing him the whole way began knocking furiously on all the windows and doors, causing the ground of the demountable to shake. The various noises the children made reminded him of something out of The Lion King movies, only his T.V. was now on full volume and the remote control was missing.

Billy leant his back on the door to keep it shut and slid down until he was sitting on the green carpet with bits of chewing gum all over it. With each bang on the door, he pushed back harder. Bang! His heart raced faster. BANG! He was losing control of his breathing. Bang! He forced his eyes shut with all his might and clenched his teeth together. Bang! Why is the door opening? He stopped breathing completely. Bang! Bang! They’re going to kill me! Bang! Bang! Bang! An arm was waving through a gap in the door now. He couldn’t keep pushing back. Now half a body was forcing itself through. His entire body tensed up until he was a rubber band ready to snap.

“That’s enough!” Bellowed a deep voice. The low, comforting voice, that Billy had grown to trust over the last two terms of school. “Leave now! Or I’ll put the whole school on detention!”

Billy breathed out for the first time in 23 seconds.

The sudden silence was only interrupted by the slam of the door behind Billy. Then came the screams. The ear-splitting shrieks that only tiny children can produce. Followed by a stampede of feet, much like the one in The Lion King, rolling across the veranda and jumping onto the path below.

All Billy could hear now was his panting breath, which was still too rapid. His eyes still firmly shut, making his face all wrinkly and amber.

“You look like a rocket ready for blast off,” said the voice that was growing louder as it got closer. “I’ve never seen a face so red.”

Billy felt the warm weight of a hand on his shoulder and opened his eyes to see his protector, comforter and saviour. There, crouching in front of him at eye level, was his teacher, Mr Carlton. His ever-smiling eyes cut through Billy’s agony, melting Billy’s muscles body into a soft goo. With the ease of a grin, Mr Carlton filled Billy with enough strength to stand up and sit at his desk in the front row.

Once planted at his desk, Billy felt at home. It was even more than home, he thought. Because home didn’t feel this safe. Actually, Mr Carlton’s room was the only place in the world he felt safe. A refuge in a stormy sea.

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