Accidents & Emergencies: Boofhead

Words by Lily Mei

Pictures by Kitty Allison

Published on July 16, 2014

My brother got his head glued back together when I was nine. We were about to go overseas and Dad thought it would be too much of a hassle to get stitches out while traveling. Callum must have been six.

I wasn’t there when it happened but I’ve got a vivid memory of it.

Cal had a pool party. Dad was there but mum was with me and we were probably at the shops buying party pies because the homemade sausage rolls had burnt. They always burnt.

The thing I remember most was how somebody threw a ball that squished my strawberries. The kid that retrieved the ball squished a bunch more. He left a trail, like blotches of blood, that stained the granite tiles for a few hours. I never got to try those strawberries, and I was never nice to Cal’s friends again.

The kids in the deep end of the pool were holding bomb-diving competitions. We’d just watched the Olympics so everyone knew how to score properly. They looked like stumpy little penguins, flapping about with these hand gestures that probably came from watching hours of gymnastics. The kid with a broken arm marked down the scores in chalk. He had a blue cast.

I always thought that if I broke my arm, I would have a blue cast and all the kids in my class would want to sign it. I wanted to break my arm just to see how much it hurt but I’ve never broken anything. I cried when the doctor tried to put drops in my eye years ago. Cal patted me on the back and told me he understood because it wasn’t nice having things put near your eyes. He told me about the time a bug flew in his eye. ‘It was very uncomfortable,’ he’d said. My parents raised an insightful four-year-old and an ungrateful seven-year-old.

The kid with the blue cast chalked up a gentleman’s seven out of ten for Cal’s jump. Then his best friend’s little brother bomb-dived on top of him. Cal’s head split open as good as if he’d smashed it on the edge of the pool. He bobbed up to the surface. His hands covered his head and there was blood seeping through his fingers. He looked a little confused. There was a scrambling of parents, something comparable to that ‘get out of the water’ scene from Jaws. I expect the chlorine would have stung.

Dad scooped my brother up. ‘C’mon boofhead,’ he said, and drove him to Emergency. Doctors and nurses collected the thick muck dribbling out of Cal’s head. I pictured them funnelling it back in before they pressed his head back together. ‘The directions say fast drying but the glue has to be held together for at least 15 minutes. We’re going to put a clamp on your head, just until the bond sets.’

By the time I saw him he looked fine.
‘Did you cry?’
I asked Cal to buy me replacement strawberry plants but he refused. Mum and dad told me to shut up about the strawberries and show a little more consideration for my brother’s head. I ignored him for a day instead.

But that’s just how I remember it. I used to like touching his scar. I liked how white it was. Like a gel, an opaque goop; the remnants of the stuff that poured out from his brain at the
hospital. It settled like lava and his hair still parts around it.

Years later I hit my brother in the head, just above the eye, with a cricket bat. No, that was the neighbour. He was batting. I was the bowler. Cal was the wickie. I’m surprised my parents haven’t bought my brother a helmet — just showing a little consideration for a boofhead.

Lily Mei is a law and writing/cultural studies student at UTS. She edits the student magazine Vertigo and loves hanging about with the kids at The Sydney Story Factory where she tutors creative writing. You can follow her at @LilyMeizing.

Kitty Allison is a writer and vis artist living in Brisbane. You can find her on twitter: @kitallison.