Throwing Sand

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

One day Benson was at the playground, playing with his friend Mick on the roundabout, taking turns to push it while the other one lay flat on their back on the roundabout and stared at the sky going round and round.

Then Santo came up. Santo was a numbat. He was visiting from another part of the country. He had a sharp, pointy face and brown and red stripes and a long tail. Benson didn’t like him.

Santo stood beside the roundabout, flicking his long tongue in and out.

Benson said to Mick, “Come on, let’s go to the sandpit.” They both went off, leaving Santo by himself.

There were two baby possums in the sandpit, playing tea parties. They had gum leaves they were pretending were plates, and gum nuts they were pretending were cups. Benson said to Mick, “Let’s dig a tunnel. You start over there and I’ll start over here and we’ll meet in the middle.”

They started digging, then Santo came up again. Benson kept digging, and didn’t look at him. Santo started flicking sand with his tail, and some of it went in Benson’s face.

Benson shouted, “Hey, don’t throw sand, it’s dangerous!”

Mick said, “Yeah!” and picked up a handful of sand and threw it at Santo. Santo jumped back and the sand went into the baby possums’ eyes.

The possums started to cry and their mother came running over. Benson’s mother came over too, and Mick’s mother.

The possums’ mother wrapped her arms around the two little girls and brushed their faces with her soft tail. When they stopped crying, she gathered them up and took them home.

Mick said, “It was Santo’s fault! He was throwing sand!”

Santo smiled his sneaky smile and ran off.

Benson wanted to say something, but the words got stuck and wouldn’t come out.

Benson’s mother looked at Benson, and he looked at her, and for a second it felt like she could see him the way he saw himself.

“Is this true?” she said.

Benson looked down and shook his head.

His mother said, “Did Mick throw the sand?” Benson nodded, just once. Mick started to cry.

Then Benson said, “But it was my fault too, because I wouldn’t let Santo play with us, so he started flicking the sand and that made Mick angry.”

Mick’s mother scolded him, and Benson’s mother said it wasn’t all Mick’s fault, everyone could have done better. Mick stopped crying and his mother took him home.

Benson and his mother went home. She didn’t say anything, and he didn’t say anything, but when they got home, she wrapped her arms around him and gave him a big hug.

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