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

Tuesday was the day for Aunt Lillibet’s knitting circle. They always took turns meeting at each other’s houses, and this week it was Aunt Lillibet’s turn.

“The problem is,” said Aunt Lillibet, “whoever has it at their place has to make morning tea for everyone.”

“That’s not a problem,” said Benson’s mother. “If you’re busy, I can make a cake or some sandwiches.”

“If it were that easy, there wouldn’t be a problem,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Everybody has intolerances.”

“What are intolerances?” Benson asked. “Is something wrong with their feet so they can’t walk properly?”

“It means there are things they won’t eat,” said Aunt Lillibet.

Benson nodded slowly. “I’ve got intolerances,” he said. “I won’t eat worms, or rocks, or other wombats…”

“No, not like that,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Babette won’t eat anything that’s green or red, and Gordon won’t eat anything that grows underground. Fenella won’t eat anything unless it’s round, and Bliss won’t eat anything that’s been cooked on a Tuesday.”

“That makes it hard for you,” said Benson’s mother, “making something different for everyone.”

“Oh, no,” said Aunt Lillibet, “it isn’t that easy. None of them can bear to even be in the same room as food they don’t eat. It has to be something that everyone can eat.”

“Blueberries!” said Benson’s mother.

“We had blueberries last week at Gordon’s, and the week before at Fenella’s, and the week before that at Babette’s. If I see another blueberry, I’m going to turn blue,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“Have you got intolerances, too?” asked Benson.

“Of course not,” said Aunt Lillibet, going red.

“You don’t like ginger pudding,” said Aunt Moss.

“That’s different,” said Aunt Lillibet.

“You only eat tomatoes if they’re just picked straight off the bush,” said Benson.

“That’s because they’re much better that way than cold out of the fridge,” said Aunt Lillibet. “Anyway, it’s not about me. What am I going to give them for morning tea?”

Everybody thought.

“Blackberries,” said Benson.

“Nuts,” said Aunt Moss.

“Bananas!” said Benson’s mother.

“Sounds good to me,” said Aunt Lillibet. She went to the shops and bought blackberries and bananas and macadamias, and arranged them nicely in separate little bowls. She sat down and got her knitting ready.

Then her knitting buddies, Gordon, Babette, Fenella and Bliss arrived.

Aunt Lillibet said, “Shall we have morning tea first?”

She put the pretty bowls on the table in front of them.

“Are they macadamias?” said Fenella. “My grandson hates any food that starts with ‘m’. If he even smells them on someone he has a tantrum. I can’t be in the same room as macadamias.”

Aunt Lillibet said nothing. She took the bowl of nuts outside.

Gordon was looking at the bananas. “Where did you get these bananas?” he said. “They look very curvy to me. I’ve read about shop keepers getting straight bananas and bending them to make them look better. I think these bananas have been bent artificially.”

“Oh no!” said Bliss. “How dreadful!”

“I suggest you put them straight in the bin,” said Gordon. “All these artificially altered foods are no good for you at all.”

Aunt Lillibet said nothing. She took the bananas outside. When she came in again, Babette was poking at the blackberries with her finger.

“I don’t think I can eat these blackberries,” she said.

“But they’re BLACK, Babette. They’re not red or green,” Aunt Lillibet said.

“They smell red,” said Babette. “I’m sorry, I’m just very sensitive.”

Aunt Lillibet said nothing. She took the blackberries outside.

She came back in and went into the kitchen. She got four glasses of water, and put them on the table. “Morning tea,” she said.

The other four looked at the glasses of water.

Fenella said, “Is the water really fresh? I usually only drink fresh creek water.”

Gordon said, “Really, I would rather have hot water, if it’s not too much trouble. Solar-heated, of course.”

Babette said, “I’m sorry but I simply cannot drink water without ice. Dry ice, naturally.”

Bliss said, “I would love a drink of water! But I can’t have it on an empty stomach. Do you have any blueberries?”

One thought on “Intolerance

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