Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a warm, comfy wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
It was a very hot summer. In the bush where Benson lived, the noise of cicadas singing filled the air all day long. Sometimes it got so loud that Benson’s ears started ringing and he couldn’t hear anything else.
Aunt Lillibet started wearing her pink fluffy earmuffs around the house.
“Aren’t your ears hot?” Benson asked her.
“I can’t hear you,” she said. “I’m wearing ear muffs.”
Aunt Moss, who had a thick woolly hat pulled down over her ears, said, “What did she say?”
“She said she couldn’t hear me,” Benson said.
Aunt Moss said, “Wait a minute, Benson, I can’t hear you with this hat over my ears.” She took the hat off.
Benson said loudly, “She said she can’t hear me!”
Aunt Moss said, “What? I can’t hear you over the noise the cicadas are making.” She pulled the hat back down over her ears. “That’s better,” she said. “Now what did you say?”
Benson sighed. He made some signs to say he was going for a walk, and he went outside. Outside it was even noisier. He walked along with his hands over his ears, and he could still hear the noise of the cicadas.
“Will you be quiet?” he shouted, but the cicadas were so noisy he couldn’t even hear himself shouting.
Further along he came to a long, flat rock. He could see someone on top of it, wearing a pink tutu and doing something that looked like it might be dancing. When he got closer, he could see it was Bonnie Lou, his friend Mick’s little sister. She stopped dancing and made a big bow, even though there was no-one watching. The noise of the cicadas sounded like an audience cheering.
Benson went up to the rock and said, “What are you doing?”
Bonnie Lou stopped bowing and her face went pink. “Nothing,” she said.
“Were you dancing?” Benson said.
Bonnie Lou’s face went as red as a tomato. “I might have been,” she said. “What’s wrong with that?”
Benson said, “Why were you dancing out here all by yourself?”
Bonnie Lou said, “If I dance at home, Mick laughs at me. He says I dance like a bulldozer falling down a hill. So I came out here where no-one can see me.”
“That isn’t very nice of him,” Benson said. “You can keep dancing, I won’t laugh at you.”
Bonnie Lou wouldn’t. She was too embarrassed to dance in front of anybody.
Benson had an idea. He went and found three old banksia cones. He climbed up onto the rock and said loudly, “Benson, the world’s greatest juggler!” He held his tongue between his teeth and threw the three cones into the air. He caught one and dropped one and the third one hit him on the nose. “Ta da!” he said. He bowed, and the noise of the cicadas rose up around him like an audience clapping and cheering.
Bonnie Lou clapped and clapped. “Let me have a turn,” she said. Benson got down and let her climb up onto the rock. She started dancing and twirling and jumping up and down on her toes.
Benson thought she looked like a baby hippopotamus on a trampoline. He rolled around on the ground laughing.
Bonnie Lou stopped dancing and glared at him with her hands on her hips. “You said you wouldn’t laugh!” she said.
Benson said, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it. You look really funny when you dance. Wombats aren’t really built for dancing.”
Bonnie Lou said, “But I love dancing!”
Benson said, “You know what? I love dancing too!” He climbed up onto the rock beside her and they both danced. Benson did some tap-dancing steps and jumped and kicked his feet up into the air. It looked pretty silly but it felt great. Bonnie Lou twirled and swayed. They both had a great time, and when they finished they bowed and curtsied, and the noise of the cicadas rang out like a huge crowd cheering.