Feathers

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

Aunt Moss had an old pillow that she loved. It was full of feathers, and she said it was the most comfortable pillow in the world. But it got so old and worn out that it split right down the middle, and the feathers started to come out.

“These feathers get just everywhere,” she said. She was right. They floated in the air, and they drifted under the bed and slid all over the floor and got caught in Benson’s hair. “Would you take it outside for me, please, Benson? I think we can put the feathers on the compost heap.”

Benson gathered up the old pillow and carried it outside as carefully as he could, but even so he left a trail of tiny white feathers all the way through the house and across the yard to the compost heap. He put the pillow down and picked up some handfuls of feathers and threw them up into the air. They spread out like a cloud and rained down on him like soft warm snow. He threw some more up in the air, and felt them drift down all over him. There were feathers all over the ground and all over him, and the pillow was still half full of feathers.

Then he heard a very small voice, saying, “Are you a chicken?” He looked around. Underneath the lavender bush was a baby possum, staring at him with big brown eyes.

Benson said, “Do I look like a chicken?”

The baby possum nodded. “My mother said I should be careful of chickens because they might peck me.”

Benson got two enormous handfuls of feathers and threw them into the air and let them fall all over him. He spread his arms out. “I’m not a chicken,” he said. “I’m a great big eagle, and I’m going to pick you up in my big claws and eat you!”

The baby possum wrapped his tail around himself and closed his eyes tight and started to cry. “Waah, waah, waaaahhhh!”

Benson stopped flapping his arms. “Don’t cry!” he said. “I’m not an eagle, I’m a wombat.”

The baby possum kept crying. “Wombats don’t have feathers,” he cried.

Benson thought to himself that babies weren’t very smart. “I don’t have feathers,” he said. “These are just some old feathers from a pillow I was playing with. See?” He brushed some of the feathers off. The possum still looked worried, but he stopped crying.

Benson picked up some feathers and sprinkled them on the possum. “Now you’re a chicken. We’re both chickens.” He threw some of the feathers in the air and they landed on him and on the possum. “Let’s do some pecking,” he said. “Peck, peck. Peck, peck.”

The baby possum smiled. “Peck, peck, peck, ” he said.

Benson said, “I’m not a chicken any more, I’m a duck. Quack, quack.” He waddled around in a circle, quacking.

The baby possum laughed. Benson said, “You’re not a chicken either. You’re a kookaburra.” He tossed handfuls of feathers in the air and the baby possum rolled in the pile of feathers on the ground. Then they threw feathers at each other, and they played ducks and chickens all morning.

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