Beware of Hippopotamus

This appeared in the Fall/Winter 2010 edition of The Scop at King’s College.


Sometimes I dream about being a horse. Sure—say I’m weird. I don’t care. I just can’t stop myself from thinking about how cool it would be. People are always saying how beautiful and majestic horses are. They’re so tall and muscular, and they’re always trotting around. They gallop, too. What other animal gallops, really? If I were a horse, I could gallop. As I am, I usually just plod along. Sure, sometimes I can get in some good stamping, but what does that really do? Even an elephant or a child can stamp.

I’d have great hair as a horse, too. A flowing mane. Even ratty horses have great hair. But I wouldn’t be a ratty horse—I wouldn’t even be a normal horse. In my dreams, I have wings. I’m a flying horse, which they call a pegasus. See, if I were a regular horse and I ran into water I might have to change my route, but as a pegasus I could just fly across. And everybody would watch when I spread my wings and glide through the air. Normal horses would be jealous. Just imagine the air flowing through my perfect hair and my graceful extended wings. It’s quite a picture, isn’t it?

But that’s not all. I’d have a horn. A winged unicorn, or a unisus. At first, I thought the horn was excessive—just vanity coming through in my subconscious, making me the unique pegasus on the block—but in my dream, once I crossed the lake, I got hungry. There was an apple tree, but I had no hands. BAM! I put my horn to work smacking some apples down. I caught some in my mouth, too. They were delicious, and my horn was oh so practical. Other horses came over and ate the apples that I didn’t. They loved me.

Humans marveled at me, and I let little kids ride on my back because they thought I was magical. I would never fly with a kid on my back because I think it might be dangerous. Toward the end of my dream, a man with a twisty moustache tried to capture me and shouted, “I’ll sell this horse to the highest bidder!” But I flew away and flashed him a smile with my beautiful white teeth, thinking to myself, “I’m not a horse. I’m a unisus!”

Then I wake up, and I remember, quite unfortunately, that I’m just a hippopotamus, a name which ironically comes from the ancient Greek, meaning river horse. But I’m no horse at all. Not even close. I head off to the water and wade about, grunt and bellow with my friends, and eat up some grass, just waiting until I can fall asleep and dream again. The humans put up signs that say Beware of Hippopotamus. Do they even wonder why I’m so aggressive?

About the author: Pete Phillips

You're at my website. I'm not sure what more biography I can give you.