The Perfect Green

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

One day Aunt Lillibet said to Benson’s mother, “You know, that front door needs a coat of paint. It’s looking very shabby. It gets the full sun every day and that old green is faded. Besides, the wood is all dried out.”

Benson’s mother agreed. “A new coat of paint would be wonderful. What about painting it red this time?”

Aunt Lillibet was putting on her painting overall. “Too bright,” she said. “Red is all right for post boxes and fire engines, but not for front doors.”

“How about yellow?” Benson said.

“Yellow shows the dirt too much,” Aunt Lillibet said. She put down a drop-cloth to protect the floor.

Aunt Moss said, “Blue is pretty, and it doesn’t show the dirt.”

Aunt Lillibet said, “Three other wombat holes in this street have blue doors. We live in the wombat hole with the green door.” She got out her favourite brush, and some painting rags in case of a spill. “Now, what kind of green?”

What kind of green? Benson thought. Is she crazy? Green is green! He decided to make a sandwich while the grown-ups talked about green.

Aunt Lillibet took some yellow paint and mixed in a little blue. “Oh no!” Aunt Moss said. “It’s too olive-y! Yuck!”

Lillibet mixed in a little more blue. “That’s more like lettuce,” Benson’s mother said, “or baby spinach leaves. A bit too bright. We don’t want kangaroos and numbats coming and nibbling at the front door. ”

Lillibet mixed in more blue. “No, that’s too dark and sad,” Benson’s mother said. “Too much like old silverbeet leaves. What about something a bit lighter, like carrot tops, or celery?”

Lillibet mixed in some white, and a touch of yellow. “No, that’s not right,” Aunt Moss said. “That looks like pickles.”

Lillibet added a touch of blue. “Oh no,” Aunt Moss said, “We don’t want a front door the colour of toothpaste. Here, try this.” She splashed some black into the paint.

“Moss, careful what you’re doing!” Lillibet said. “That’s revolting, like the slime at the bottom of the creek.” She carefully added a little more white, and a lot more yellow. “That’s better. I think that’s nearly right.”

“That’s exactly the colour it is now,” Benson’s mother said.

Benson looked over the top of his sandwich. His mother was right. It was the most ordinary, dull green in the world, a kind of dull, ferny, mossy green.

“I’m not finished yet,” Lillibet said. She added a little blue, and just a drop of white and mixed carefully, then just a drop more blue. “There! Now that’s perfect!”

It was the colour of gum leaves, a silvery-blue green. “Perfect!” said Benson’s mother. “That will look beautiful with the sun shining on it, and it will still look nice in the rain.”

“Lovely!” said Aunt Moss. “It reminds me of home. My mother’s favourite hat had leaves on it exactly that colour.”

“Would anyone like a sandwich?” Benson said.

“I’d love one,” said his mother. “What’s on them?”

“Lettuce and baby spinach and carrot tops and celery and pickles.”

“Delicious,” his mother said. They sat down at the table with Aunt Moss and shared the sandwiches. Benson’s mother said, “Lillibet, would you like a sandwich?” But Lillibet didn’t hear her. She was already painting the front door, humming to herself.

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