When Sammy starts going to a new school one day a week, Mum suspects the lollypop lady is secretly a Valkyrie.
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A Tall Tale about Valkyries and Mullets
Here we go…
At the beginning of year 5 Tammy had started going to the school in the next town over, one day a week to be in the Stem class there. Tammy did not like change generally speaking, and this was a big one. But it was an exciting big one.
The next town over was different. When you live in a small town, another small town, which might seem much the same to a city person, actually seems exotic and foreign.
At her new school there were more kids with mullets. Mum loved this. When Tammy came out towards the school gates and she spotted Mum standing on the grass verge with Henry the dog, by her feet. Mum’s eyes would be glowing with joy. She loved seeing all the kids with the mullets.
‘I just saw a kid so fabulous,’ said Mum. ‘He had a red mullet. And his face was so angry, he looked like a middle aged man who’d just had his mortgage turned down. He looked like an incredibly short, incredibly angry middle aged man with a red mullet.
You shouldn’t be judgemental about the other children,’ said Tammy.
‘I’m not judgemental,’ protested Mum. ‘I’m admiring. To have so much character at such a young age. You just know he’s going to have an amazing life. I wanted to take a photo, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to get in trouble for taking photos of other people’s children outside of a school.’
‘Good call,’ said Tammy.
‘So I want you to find him, next week when you go back and draw him for me,’ said Mum.
‘I’m not doing that,’ said Tammy.
‘But you’re so good at drawing,’ said Mum. ‘And you’re a kid too, so it would be less weird if you did it.’
‘I would still be weird,’ said Tammy.
‘Well you are weird,’ said Mum. ‘So no one would notice the difference.’
‘I’m not doing it,’ said Tammy. ‘I know the boy you’re talking about. And he is angry. I’m not going to secretly draw him.’
‘You could tell him, you’re drawing him,’ said Mum. ‘It doesn’t have to be a secret.’
‘No,’ said Tammy.
‘Gagh,’ said Mum. ‘I’ll just have to emblazon his image in my memory.’ Mum walked down the road with her eyes closed.
‘Dog poo,’ said Tammy.
‘What?’ said Mum. Opening her eyes and leaping backwards.
‘Gotcha,’ said Tammy.
‘Good one,’ said Mum. ‘I’ll pay that.’ She high fived Tammy and they kept walking in silence.
‘I really like your new school,’ said Mum.
‘It’s only one day a week,’ said Tammy.
‘I know,’ said Mum. ‘But there’s so many new things about it. It’s fascinating.’
‘They’ve got nachos at the canteen,’ said Tammy. ‘And milkshakes.’
‘That doesn’t sound healthy,’ said Mum.
‘I don’t think they care,’ said Tammy.
‘My favourite thing about the new school,’ said Mum. ‘Is the lollypop lady.’
Tammy glanced back at the lollypop lady on the zebra crossing. Tammy didn’t say anything but she agreed. The lollypop lady was impressive. She had never seen someone wear so much high vis before. They had a children’s crossing near their house and the lady who did the crossing only wore a high vis vest and she didn’t have a sign. This lollypop lady was much more impressive. She had a knee length full sleeve hi-viz coat, a broad brim high viz hat, steel cap boots and a proper ‘Stop/Slow’ sign.
‘She’s wonderful,’ said Mum. ‘So easy to see. And such a mullet.’
‘You can’t tell if it’s a mullet,’ said Tammy. ‘She’s wearing a hat.’
‘I sense that it’s a mullet,’ said Mum. ‘She definitely has long golden locks and a full fringe. It could easily be a mullet.’
‘Middle aged women don’t have mullets,’ said Tammy.
‘That lollypop lady is capable of anything,’ said Mum. ‘The determined stride of her gate, and the steely glint in her eye. She could stop the traffic with the force of her personality alone. Seeing her stride out onto the white stripes in the road it’s like seeing a Valkyrie descend from the heavens.’
‘What’s a Valkyrie?’ asked Tammy.
‘I’m not entirely sure,’ admitted Mum. ‘Most of my knowledge of Valkyries comes from watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. I do know that they’re deeply impressive women who feature in German operas. They wear helmets with horns, armoured bodices and they sing opera with the deafening intimidation and decibels of a car alarm.’
Tammy thought about this. The Lollypop did have the build of an opera singer.
‘Next week you should park on the other side of the road,’ said Tammy. ‘So we can cross.’
‘Oooh, good idea!’ said Mum. ‘Then I can ask her, her name.’
‘Her name is Barb,’ said Tammy.
‘It is!’ exclaimed Mum. ‘Of course.’
‘Or Bec,’ said Tammy. ‘Or Beth. Something with a B. Betty perhaps.’
‘No, it has to be Barb,’ said Mum. ‘Barb fits.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Tammy.
‘Well a barb is a weapon,’ said Mum. ‘You get barbs on spears and fish hooks, so when you catch your prey they can’t escape. It’s the perfect name for her. If you tried to drive through her crossing without slowing down, she’d barb you.’
‘You’re and idiot,’ said Tammy.
‘I bet that’s what’s on her stick,’ said Mum.
‘What?’ said Tammy.
‘Inside the lollypop sign,’ said Mum. ‘If anyone drives through the crossing as she’s stepping out, she whips off the round part at the top of the sign and underneath there is a three pronged, barbed trident – like Poseidan god of the sea has – and she hurls it at the car tyres.’
‘That would cause an accident,’ said Tammy.
‘Yes,’ said Mum. ‘The driver would lose control and crash into one of the buses. Then Barb would run them down. She obviously isn’t a fast runner. But she doesn’t need to be, because Barb’s trident has barbs, so anything she hits with it is not going anywhere.’
‘The school isn’t going to let a middle aged woman throw spears at passing cars,’ said Tammy.
‘Of course they would,’ said Mum. ‘She’s protecting children. Poor little innocent children who are just trying to cross the road so they can go home to their mothers.’
‘You hate children,’ said Tammy.
‘I do not,’ said Mum. ‘I respect young people for the complex personalities that they are.’
‘You hate them,’ said Tammy.
‘I think they’re all evil,’ said Mum. ‘It’s not the same thing.’
‘The school wouldn’t let her have a spear,’ said Tammy.
‘They’d turn a blind eye,’ said Mum. ‘If she’s a Valkyrie, they wouldn’t really have any say. She’d have been sent by the gods.’
‘The gods?’ said Tammy.
‘Probably the norse ones,’ said Mum. ‘She looks like a Norse god.’
‘You mean like Thor, from the movies,’ said Tammy.
‘Thor in the movies does not look like a norse god,’ said Mum. ‘The norse gods are from Scandinavia where it is horrifically cold almost all the time. If they had as little body fat as thor from the movies they’d die of hypotheria in autumn, they wouldn’t even make it to winter. No a real norse god would look just like Barb.
‘We would the Norse gods send a Valkyrie here?’ asked Tammy.
‘Perhaps she did something terrible and was thrown out of the heavens,’ said Mum.
‘Like what?’ asked Tammy.
‘Wore too much hi-viz,’ suggested Mum. ‘And gave everyone a headache.’
Tammy just made a scoffing noise.
‘Perhaps she got in a fight with another god,’ said Mum. ‘Perhaps over a man. That’s the type of things gods fight over all the time. Or perhaps because she had a terrible temper.’
‘So they sent her down here to work with children?’ said Tammy.
‘She doesn’t really work with the children,’ said Mum. ‘She works with traffic. ‘They sent her down here to use her terrible other worldly rage on the traffic.’
‘That’s ridiculous,’ said Tammy.
‘Have you seen a kid get hit by a car on that crossing?’ Mum asked.
‘No,’ said Tammy.
‘There you go then,’ said Mum.
‘I’ve only been here twice,’ said Tammy.
‘Two whole days with no kids getting hit by cars,’ said Mum. ‘That’s a job well done.’
‘You’re an idiot,’ said Tammy.
‘Maybe,’ said Mum. ‘Or maybe I’m a genius and I’m the only one who can see the truth.’
‘I think there is a greater probability that you’re an idiot,’ said Tammy.
‘Have you been learning about probability?’ asked Mum.
‘Yes, we did it today in school,’ said Tammy.
‘Now that is an important life skill,’ said Mum. ‘We never could have guessed the probability of so many mullet headed kids, or a Valkyrie at your new school.’