Hearts

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 night Benson went to bed but he didn’t go to sleep straight away. He lay there thinking.

His mother looked in later on, and he was still awake.

“Not asleep yet?” she asked.

“No, I’m just listening to my heart beating,” he said.

She came in and lay down on the bed beside him.

He said, “Do you think my heart is soft or hard?”

“What do you think?” she said.

“I don’t know,” he said. “When Aunt Lillibet said Aunt Moss had to take the turtles back to the creek where they belong, Aunt Moss said she was hard-hearted. And then when Aunt Moss took them back and then she came home and cried, Aunt Lillibet said she was too soft-hearted.

“And then the turtles walked all the way back all by themselves and Aunt Moss wanted to put them in the bath with their favourite chopped up broccoli leaves, and Aunt Lillibet said no, she had to send them straight back to the creek, Aunt Moss said Aunt Lillibet must have a heart made of stone.”

“I remember that,” Benson’s mother said. “And Aunt Moss talked to the turtles and explained why they would be much happier living at the creek and then she carried them all the way back.”

“Yes,” said Benson, “and then she came home and cried all over again, and Aunt Lillibet said her heart was as soft as marshmallow.”

They lay there in the dark for a while, thinking. Benson’s mother said, “I think Aunt Moss was very brave, to take them back to the creek and leave them there, even though it made her so sad.”

Benson said, “Even if her heart is soft, it’s really strong, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said, “That’s what I think. And Aunt Lillibet made her some hot chocolate and gave her the last pumpkin muffin. That was very kind, not hard-hearted at all.”

Benson thought for a while, and then he said, “I don’t think they meant each other’s actual hearts.”

“No,” said his mother.

Benson leaned his head against his mother’s chest, and listened to her heart beating, until he went to sleep.

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