Traffic Lights

Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a neat little wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson and his mother went to the shops to get some sugar and milk and other things. They had just reached the traffic lights when Benson’s mother said, “Oh, I’ve forgotten my list. Wait here, Benson. Don’t cross the road without me.”

She hurried back. Benson waited by the traffic lights, thinking about stuff. The traffic lights kept changing from green to orange to red, green, orange, red, and the green walking man changed to the red standing man and back again. Benson started to think about coloured lights, and he started to think about dancing. He’d seen some dancers on television. They had feathers and ruffles and frills that wibbled and ruffled when they danced. His feet started dancing while he was thinking, and he started to glide, around the traffic light pole, up on his toes and down again.

The cars waiting at the red light saw Benson dancing and they stopped to see what he was doing.

Benson wasn’t watching the cars; he was watching the lights, and thinking about swaying under a glittering ball with shiny shoes on. He leapt in the air, and spread his hands out, one arm and then both arms.

The cars at the traffic lights saw his hands out and thought he was telling them to stop. The cars at the red light stopped, and the cars at the green lights stopped.

Benson twirled around with his hands in the air. The cars at the red light thought he wanted them to go, and they started to go. The cars at the green light started to go too. They all came into the middle at the same time and stopped, all jammed together. They blew their horns at each other.

Benson was dancing with his eyes closed. He heard the beeping and honking and imagined drums and maracas and shoes with taps on them, and a shiny black hat. He stopped swaying and twirling and started tapping and jiggling, making his feet patter on the footpath. The cars honked louder and louder.

Benson’s mother came back, looking flustered. She was surprised to see all the cars crammed up against each other instead of stopping when the lights were red and going when the lights were green. Then she saw Benson dancing.

“Benson, dear,” she said. Benson stopped dancing and opened his eyes.

“Thank you for waiting for me,” his mother said. “Would you press the button for the lights, please?”

Benson pressed the button. They both waited. One by one the cars carefully drove round each other. The cars with the green light went, and the cars with the red light waited. When the light with the green walking man came on, Benson and his mother crossed the road. The traffic ran smoothly back and forth.

“I didn’t know you could tap-dance,” said Benson’s mother.

“Neither did I,” Benson said modestly.

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