Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a very nice wombat hole with his mother, and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss. One day Aunt Lillibet hurt her ankle playing badminton. It wasn’t broken but it was very sore, and she had a big pink elastic bandage on it, and the doctor told her she had to rest it. She wasn’t allowed to walk on it for a whole week.
Not walking around made Aunt Lillibet tired and cranky. Everyone had to do everything for her, because she couldn’t make herself a sandwich, or get up and get a drink of water, or go and dig in the garden. After five days she was very bored.
That was the day that Benson’s mother had an important meeting she had to go to, about finding ways to help sick animals, and Aunt Moss was working with her bushcare team. Benson’s mother asked him if he would please look after Aunt Lillibet.
“How can I look after her?” Benson said.
“Oh, it won’t be hard,” his mother said. “Just keep her company, talk to her when she’s lonely, maybe get things she can’t reach, you know.”
“I don’t need looking after,” Aunt Lillibet said, grumpily.
“I know you don’t,” Benson’s mother said, “but Benson will be here, just in case you need anything.”
As soon as everybody left, Benson got out his new library book. It was a very interesting book about a bushranger who had a big red horse and a cow and a cockatoo. Aunt Lillibet said, “Benson, would you get me a drink of water, please? I’m thirsty.”
Benson put his book down and got her a glass of water. He started reading again, and a minute later Aunt Lillibet said, “Where are my glasses? I can’t read without my glasses. Benson, find them for me, would you, please?”
Benson put his book down and looked for Aunt Lillibet’s glasses. They were under her chair. He sat down and opened his book. Aunt Lillibet said, “I’ve already read this book. It’s boring. Can’t you think of anything else to do?”
Benson put his book down again. He was just up to a part where a policeman was trying to catch the bushranger and the horse was helping him get away. “What would you like to do?” he asked Aunt Lillibet.
“I don’t know. Can’t you think of something?”
Benson tried to think of something. “Would you like to do some painting?” he said.
“All right,” said Aunt Lillibet. Benson went and got the paints and the brushes, and some plastic to cover the table and some paper to paint on. He sat down on one side of the table and Aunt Lillibet sat on the other side. He started to paint a big red horse and a policeman. Aunt Lillibet painted a tree and some flowers and some mushrooms. Then she sighed. “This is boring,” she said. She put her brush down, and it knocked against her glass of water and spilled water everywhere, on the paper and the table and on the floor, even on Benson’s painting. Benson had to get up quickly and wipe it all up, and put all the wet paper in the bin. It looked like there would be no more painting, so he put everything away again.
“What can we do now?” Aunt Lillibet said. Benson tried to think of something else. “We could do some drawing.”
“I can’t think of anything to draw,” Aunt Lillibet said.
“What about some knitting?”
“I hate knitting,” Aunt Lillibet said.
Benson thought of something. “I’m making a sign for the cake stall at the library next week. We could work on that together.”
He got out the scissors and glue, the coloured paper and pens, and the glitter. Aunt Lillibet wanted to do the cutting out, but her fingers got tired, and then she wanted to do the colouring, but the red pen ran out, so then she wanted to do the gluing. She got glue all over her fingers, and the glitter stuck to them and all the tiny bits of paper she had cut out. Benson had to get something for her to wash her hands, then she dripped water all over the sign and the red colour spread everywhere so instead of saying “Cake Stall”, it said, “Cazzzmmmlll”. Benson put the sign in the bin and put the glue and glitter and pens and scissors away and swept up all the tiny bits of paper and sprinkles of glitter off the floor.
He was feeling quite tired. “Now what are we going to do?” Aunt Lillibet said.
“We could just read,” Benson said. He really wanted to find out what happened to the bushranger and the policeman.
“I’m too tired to read,” Aunt Lillibet said. “You could read to me.”
Benson thought that was a good idea. He got his book out.
“But get me a drink of water first,” she said. “My water got spilled and my glass is empty.”
Benson got her a drink of water, and made her cushion comfortable. He sat down and started to read out loud.
“This is a stupid book,” Lillibet said. “What’s all this about cows and cockatoos?”
“It’s better if you read it from the beginning,” Benson said. He went back to the beginning and started to read. He didn’t mind too much because he liked the beginning too. It was more interesting reading out loud because he did different voices for the bushranger and the policeman, and he made noises for the horse and the cockatoo and the cow. Aunt Lillibet closed her eyes so she could listen better. After a while she went completely off to sleep. Benson stopped reading. She was definitely asleep. He decided to keep on reading aloud, because it was fun being all the different characters.
He was still reading out loud to himself when his mother came home. She sat down and listened, and they laughed at the funny bits very quietly so they didn’t wake up Aunt Lillibet. Then Aunt Lillibet woke up suddenly, and said, “Oh, I’m glad you’re home. I’ve had such a boring morning. We didn’t do a thing.”
Benson sighed. He felt quite tired. “I’m going to my room to read,” he said.
“Oh, is it that book about the cow?” Lillibet said. “Why don’t you stay and read it to me? But you’ll have to go back to the beginning. I think I might have dozed off and missed some of it.”