Autumn Leaves

Once there was a young wombat called Benson, who lived in a comfortable hole in the ground with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

In the autumn Benson liked to pile the brown and yellow leaves up in big piles and jump on the them and roll in them. Once he made a pile so big that it was taller than he was. He had to climb onto a chair to jump into it. He decided to gather all the leaves up and make lots of enormous piles like a mountain range of leaves in the backyard. He was in the middle of building the most enormous pile he had ever seen when his mother called him in for lunch.

It was pea and pumpkin soup, orange with green dots. He picked up his spoon and Aunt Lillibet picked up hers and Benson’s mother said, “Where’s Moss?”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Did you call her and tell her lunch was ready?”

“I called her, but she didn’t answer,” Benson’s mother said. “Was she outside with you, Benson?”

Benson said, “I was busy with my leaves. I didn’t see her anywhere.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Maybe she’s been taken by wolves. Wolves get very hungry in cold weather. Maybe they sneaked up and caught her in their mouths and took her away to eat her.”

Benson’s eyes grew round. Benson’s mother said, “There are no wolves around here, Lillibet.”

“Maybe she fell down through a time vortex and is swirling around and around in all those yesterdays and she’ll never be in today again,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Don’t be silly, Lillibet,” said Benson’s mother. “There’s no such thing as a time vortex.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “There is such a thing as quicksand. Maybe she was sucked into quicksand and we’ll never see her again. Poor Moss.”

“We don’t have any quicksand,” Benson’s mother said. “We should go and look for her.”

Benson said, “Maybe she fell down and hit her head. Maybe she went for a walk and got lost. Maybe there was a snake!”

“Benson,” his mother said, “we’re going to stop maybe-ing and go and look for her. Lillibet, would you go and look in Moss’s room, please? Benson, could you go and look outside?”

Benson went outside. He felt worried and shaky in his stomach. He went over to his leaf mountains. In the middle of one mountain, there was a rustling noise like a snake. Benson shouted for his mother in a squeaky kind of voice.

His mother came out at once. “Have you found her?” she said.

“I think there’s something in the leaf pile,” Benson said. He took his mother’s hand. There was a bigger rustling in the leaf pile.

Benson’s mother went over to the pile and poked it. Aunt Moss sat up from the middle of the leaf pile.

She yawned. “I’ve been having the loveliest sleep,” she said. “The leaves looked so soft, so I sat down, and it was so comfortable and warm, I just went off to sleep. Is it lunchtime yet?”

“Yes, it’s lunchtime,” Benson’s mother said. “It’s pumpkin and pea soup.”

“My favourite!” said Aunt Moss.

Benson’s mother pulled some leaves out of Aunt Moss’s hair and they all went inside and had their soup.

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