Ice Cubes

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

Benson had an idea. He went outside and dug for a while to think about it, and then he came inside and started looking through the recycling bin. He found some empty yoghurt containers.

He filled them up with water and put them in the freezer.

His mother wondered what he was doing. “What are you doing, Benson?” she said.

“Something,” Benson said.

He went for a ride on his bike and came back and looked in the freezer. The water was very cold but it was still watery.

He read a book for a while, and then he did some drawing. He looked in the freezer again. The water in the containers was sort of crusty, with bits of ice on the top but just water underneath.

“How long does it take to make ice?” he asked his mother.

“Depends how big the ice is, and if you want it really hard or just pretty hard,” she said.

“Really hard,” Benson said.

“Then it will probably take all day,” his mother said.

It seemed a long time to wait, but Benson figured that he would do things, instead of waiting, so he played for a while and went to his saxophone lesson and went shopping with his mother afterwards and before long it was just about dinner time.

He went to the freezer and checked again. The water in the yoghurt containers was completely frozen.

He took the containers out and tipped the ice out, but it was stuck and wouldn’t come out. His mother said, “If you run some hot water over the outside of the container the ice will get loose and come out easily.” She held each of the containers under the hot tap for a minute for him and the ice got looser.

Benson tipped them up carefully and the ice slid out, like very big ice cubes.

Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss came out to watch. “Are you going to make an ice tower?” Aunt Moss asked.

“No,” said Benson. He put the giant ice cubes on the floor of the kitchen. They were freezing cold.

“You’re going to have water everywhere when they melt,” said Lillibet. “Are you going to make some kind of cold drink with them?”

“No,” said Benson. “I’m going skating.” He put one of his feet on each of the ice cubes and balanced very carefully. They were extremely cold, and really slippery. He pushed his feet forwards hard. The ice slid, his feet slipped and he fell over backwards on his bottom on the hard floor.

Aunt Lillibet laughed. Aunt Moss said, “Are you all right?”

Benson didn’t say anything. He put his feet on top of the ice cubes again and held onto a chair until he was balanced. Then he pushed off.

The ice cubes slid sideways and he fell off again. His mother said, “What if you tied them on?”

They got some string. Aunt Lillibet got some socks. Benson put the socks on and they tied the ice to his feet. He stood up carefully, holding onto the chair. Then he went, “One, two, three!” and pushed off. One foot slid, then the other foot then the first foot went sideways and he fell down again on his bottom. “That was pretty good, wasn’t it?” he said.

His mother looked at him, flat on the floor, with water everywhere. “It was very good,” she said, smiling.

Lillibet said, “I think the idea needs more work. You’d better get this water cleaned up before we all fall flat on our bottoms.”

Benson untied the ice cubes and wiped the floor.

“Time for dinner,” said his mother. “Ice-cream and jelly.”

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