Echidna on a Skateboard

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

Benson went to visit his friend, Roly, one day, to have a chat about things. He liked talking to Roly because Roly knew things, and he always listened without interrupting, and he always had interesting things to say.

Roly was packing. Benson said, “Where are you going? Are you moving somewhere?”

Roly said, ‘Not exactly. I’m going on a trip.”

“Where to?” Benson asked. “Can I come?”

Roly didn’t want to hurt Benson’s feelings. He tried to think of how to explain. “This is a trip I want to go on by myself,” he said. “I’m not a little puggle any more and I’ve got a kind of feeling inside that I want to go to different places and see different things.”

Benson asked, “Why do you have to go by yourself?”

Roly said, “I just want to. I want to go and see where my mother came from.”

Benson thought about it. “Do you think you can walk that far?” Roly couldn’t walk very well because his back legs didn’t really work.

Roly wrinkled up his nose. “It’s a bit of a problem, but I’ll manage somehow.”

Benson had an idea. “What about wheels? Wouldn’t that make it easier?”

Roly said, “Yes, but I can’t ride a bike, you know.”

“No, I was thinking more of a skateboard,” Benson said. “We could go and ask Hazel. Hazel’s really good at making things.”

Benson asked his mother, and they all went to see Hazel. Benson explained. “Roly is going on a long trip, and I thought it would be easier if he had some kind of wheels, like maybe a skateboard.”

Hazel looked at Roly and walked all around him, thinking, and trying out ideas. “I think we can work something out,” Hazel said at last. “Come around to my workshop.”

In the workshop, Hazel had an old broken skateboard. Hazel took the wheels off the broken skateboard, and found a piece of board that was nice and smooth. Benson’s mother measured Roly from one end to the other and from side to side, and then Hazel sawed the board to the right size, sanded all the rough parts off, and screwed the wheels on. It looked very cool, like a short, flat skateboard.

“Try this for size,” Hazel said.

Roly climbed on and lay down flat on his tummy. His front paws hung over the sides and he could reach the ground easily. He pushed off, and the skateboard started to move.

Roly lifted his paws off the ground and the skateboard zoomed along. The wind rushed past his ears. He felt like singing. He ran straight into Hazel’s rhubarb bush and fell off.

Hazel said, “Oops! I forgot to give it brakes!”

Benson looked through Hazel’s wood pile and found a stick about the right size and Hazel trimmed it and planed it a bit so it would fit Roly’s paw comfortably. Roly practised using it to slow the skateboard down, until he could stop whenever he wanted, and even steer around corners.

“This is perfect!” he said. “Thank you very much.”

He rode his new skateboard all the way home. Benson had to run most of the way to keep up with him.

The next day Roly left on his trip. Benson’s mother made him some lillypilly jelly sandwiches, and Aunt Lillibet made him her special chocolate raspberry date muffins.

Benson said, “I’ve got something for you too.” It was an echidna-sized helmet, made out of a coconut shell. “For when you go really fast,” he said.

Roly gave him a big hug. “Thanks, Benson. I’ll be back soon.” He climbed onto his echidna-board and sped off.

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