Are you Okay?

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

Benson was at the playground with his friend Mick and his cousin Elmer. They played Hidey-Go-Catchies for a while which was fun because Benson was good at hiding and he could always sneak home before the others caught him, and Elmer was terrible at hiding so if Benson was in, he could always find Elmer and race him back home.

After a while Zali came, with her mother and her baby sister Zip, so they all went to the big sandpit because Benson loved to dig and Zali loved to sit in a big hole and be covered up with sand, and everyone else loved to pretend to be frightened and run away when Zali made a big growling noise and burst out of the sand.

Then Benson’s friend Phillip came. Benson could tell that Phillip was in a bad mood because he was frowning and he didn’t say hello to anyone. He didn’t help cover Zali up with sand, and he didn’t run away when everyone else did. He just sat by himself, being cranky.

Little Zip went over to him and went ‘Huh, huh!’ but he didn’t smile, but just gave her a push and said, “Go away!”

Mick had brought his frisbee, so they all decided to play frisbee, all except Phillip, who said, “Frisbees are stupid.” When Mick accidentally threw the frisbee so that it hit Phillip in the tummy, Phillip stamped on it and broke it.

“Hey!” said Mick. “I’m telling my mother!”

Benson went up to Phillip and said, “Are you okay?”

Phillip looked at Benson and he gathered up all the angriness inside him and said, as meanly as he could, “Go away, you stupid, fat wombat!”

Benson was shocked. If it had been Mick who said that, Benson would have thought he was just being horrible, but this was Phillip. Phillip was never horrible.

He sat down next to Phillip and said, “What’s the matter?”

Phillip looked at Benson and he said, “Kendall died!” and he burst into tears.

Mick laughed and said, “Your snail died?”

Benson said, “Kendall wasn’t just a snail, he was Phillip’s friend.”

Phillip really cried then, big, noisy, whuffling sobs. Zali came over and patted him. Phillip put his face on her shoulder and cried.

After a while Benson said, “What happened to Kendall?” He thought maybe Phillip would like to talk about it.

Phillip wiped his nose on his arm and said, “We were playing outside and I was hiding from him and a big old goanna came and crunched him up!” He started crying again.

Zali patted him on the back some more. Benson just sat there, feeling sorry for him. Mick whispered to Benson, “Should I go and get him another snail?”

Benson whispered back, “I don’t think so. Kendall was special. They were friends.”

They all sat there with Phillip in the sun until he stopped crying and felt better. “I’m sorry I stepped on the frisbee,” he said.

“That’s okay,” Benson said. Mick wasn’t so sure it was okay. It was his frisbee after all.

“When I get home, I can draw a picture of you and Kendall if you like,” Benson said.

“That’d be nice,” Phillip said.

“Do you want to come and play now?” Benson said.

“No, I think I’ll just sit in the sandpit with Zali,” Phillip said.

Benson and the others went and played with the broken frisbee, which went all right really, even though it had a big crack in it. Phillip sat in the sandpit with Zali and talked about Kendall until he had said everything he could think of to say, and he felt a lot better.

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