My mother is not a bad woman. She is often very tired and stressed. She’s never cross unless she has a good reason to be, and sometimes it’s my fault. People think she’s bad because she grows claws when she gets angry, but she can’t help it. She’s had a tough life.
Sometimes I get stressed too, and when she yells I yell back. That’s a bad thing to do because it doesn’t help and it only makes things worse. If I yell back at her she only yells for longer and gets angrier. I know that, but sometimes I yell back anyway.
People think she’s bad, but she’s not. People say she’s bad because she grows a tail and fur and fangs, but that’s not her fault. It just happens. Once or twice she’s snapped at me when I didn’t do anything wrong. She’s always really sorry when that happens. She scratched me once. She cried, and asked me to forgive her and understand, and it won’t happen again and that she didn’t mean to scratch me. That night I heard her howling outside. Her tail didn’t go away for weeks, not even after the scab on my arm healed.
One time, a boy at school teased me. He called my mum a dog and said she should be put down because she was a danger to the community. He called her a mongrel. I got angry and I pushed him over and kicked him. I got into trouble, but I didn’t mind because I got him back about what he said.
His mother and my mother had to come to school and sit in the principle’s office. His mother was angry, but she didn’t grow claws like mine. She just said things. I felt like maybe her kid had learned to call my mum a mongrel from her. I got angry, and mum got angry, and the principle suspended me for a week for pushing the kid, but he didn’t get punished even though he started it. I think the principle just wanted to get us out of there because mum was growing fangs.
She’s not a bad person. Sometimes she’s really good. Sometimes she’s happy and I’m happy and everything is fine. Sometimes people say things, and sometimes I get into fights, and sometimes I feel a little pressure right at the base of my spine when someone calls my mum a dog and sometimes I feel little pinpricks in my palms when I clench my fists too hard.
My mother told me that some people are this way and it isn’t anyone’s fault. She caught me once gnawing at my fingernails. I think she saw that I was scared. I thought she was going to grow fangs and growl at me for chewing my nails, but she didn’t.
My mother told me that when the weather gets cold she grows fur on purpose, and it keeps her warm. She told me that when bags won’t open, she can use her fangs, and when the duster goes missing she can use her tail.
You’re not a bad person, she said.
Cat Cotsell is a writing student at the University of Canberra, building a portfolio in creative writing and research. Cat will either illustrate children’s books, become a tattoo artist, or write for a living. Or possibly work at a trampoline park. Anything that allows for adventures.