Rain

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

One Tuesday it was a very rainy day, and in the evening it started to pour. It rained and rained all night, and it was still raining when Benson woke up in the morning. He went into the kitchen and looked out of the back door. There was no backyard, just a shining grey lake.

He called his mother. “The backyard is gone. It’s just all water everywhere.”

Benson’s mother came to the doorway and looked. She said, “Sandbags,” and went off straight away, and called Aunt Lillibet and Aunt Moss. They all came into the kitchen together and started getting things out of cupboards. Benson’s mother got some bags of rice and laid them across the doorway. Lillibet brought the bags of lentils, and beans, and chickpeas, and laid them down too, and made a little wall.

Benson looked at what they were doing and thought. If it kept raining, the water outside would get higher, until it got as high as the doorway, and then it would come in like a jug filling up a cup. He thought about the wombat hole being filled up with water, there being water instead of air, and trying to swim and trying to breathe, and he suddenly felt very worried.

Lillibet and Moss and his mother kept putting bags in the doorway, and the little wall gradually got higher. Water started to trickle in under the bags. “That’s all the bags we have in the kitchen,” Benson’s mother said.

“What about folded blankets, and towels?” Lillibet said.

“We can try,” Benson’s mother said. They folded all the towels into sausages and piled them onto the wall. The water started to push against the first row of bags, and the wall started to give way. Aunt Moss started to cry.

Benson went over and sat down firmly on the wall. His mother said, “Good boy! That’s the idea.” She sat down beside him, two solid wombat bodies pressing firmly down on the little wall. Lillibet said, “Move over you two, there’s room for one more.” There was room, just, and the three of them snuggled tight up against each other, blocking the doorway and holding the wall of bags steady. The rain kept coming down, and the water outside kept rising, but the little wall held.

Aunt Moss said, “Let me help too,” but Benson’s mother said no.

Benson could feel the water creeping up his bottom. It was very cold. His mother put her arm around him and snuggled him close. “Moss, could you make us a hot cup of tea, please? We’re going to be here for quite a while.”

They drank tea, and Aunt Moss made sandwiches and they had a picnic on the wall, and told stories and played games. The rain stopped, and the water stopped creeping up Benson’s back and started creeping down instead. Aunt Moss made hot soup, and brought them blankets to wrap around their shoulders, and after a while Benson drifted off to sleep, with his mother’s arm around him and Aunt Lillibet telling a long story about her first dance. When he woke up, the water was just about down to the bottom of the wall.

His mother said, “I think we can get up now. The wall should hold by itself, and the water’s nearly gone.” She helped Aunt Lillibet up. Lillibet was very stiff and could hardly walk. Aunt Moss filled the bath up with hot water, and she and Benson’s mother helped Lillibet into it and she felt better before long.

Benson found his legs wouldn’t move to start with, but Aunt Moss had baked some cookies and he and his mother ate them while they were still warm, and drank hot milk and soon he was feeling all warm and toasty again.

The water went down slowly, and by the end of the day there were big stretches of mud and slime instead of a shiny lake. They took the wall down, and Benson’s mother set about washing the towels and the blankets and cleaning up.

Aunt Moss sighed, and said she wished she could have helped too.

“Oh no,” Benson said. “You helped just as much as anyone, Aunt Moss. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

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