Forbidden Fruit

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

One morning, Benson came out to the kitchen for breakfast. There was one orange in the fruit bowl. It was the end of the season for oranges, and Benson knew it was the very last orange. It was round and shining and perfect.

Benson loved oranges. He was reaching out to get it when a loud voice said, ” Stop!”

It was Aunt Lillibet. “Don’t eat that orange,” she said. “I need it. It’s the very last orange.”

Benson pulled his hand back reluctantly. “Okay,” he said.

“I’m going to Shelley’s place for fifteen minutes, and when I get back, I expect that orange to still be here,” she said, and she went off.

Benson looked at the bright, glistening orange. Maybe Aunt Lillibet only needed the outside of the orange, the zesty bits of skin, and she wouldn’t mind if he ate the inside. He picked it up and smelled the zesty skin. Mmmm, it smelled so orangey.

“Benson!” Aunt Moss said, coming into the kitchen suddenly. “Didn’t Aunt Lillibet tell you she needs that orange? It’s the very last one, you know.”

Benson put it back quickly. “I know,” he said.

She smiled at him, and said, “I’m just popping over to Biddy’s, but I’ll be back in ten minutes.” And off she went.

Benson looked at the round, glowing orange. Maybe Aunt Lillibet only needed the inside of the orange, not the juice. He could put a little hole in the orange and suck out the juice, and Aunt Lillibet would still have all the skin and all the insides of the orange.

He picked up the orange and squeezed it gently. It felt nice and juicy.

“Benson!” his mother said, walking in suddenly. “You know that’s the very last orange, and Aunt Lillibet needs it, don’t you?”

Benson put the orange back quickly. “I know,” he said.

“I just have to go out to the shops,” she said, “but I’ll be back in five minutes.” And off she went.

In no time at all, she was home again, and so was Aunt Moss, and so was Aunt Lillibet. The first thing Aunt Lillibet saw when she walked into the kitchen, was no orange!

“Where’s that orange?” she said.

“It’s gone,” Benson said.

“I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone with it,” Aunt Lillibet said. “Never trust a wombat with an orange!”

“But I didn’t eat it!” Benson protested.

“Maybe he just forgot, and ate it by mistake, Lillibet,” said Aunt Moss. Benson’s mother didn’t say anything.

Benson said, “I didn’t! It looked so juicy and delicious that I was afraid I might forget and eat it when I wasn’t looking, so I put it in the cupboard.”

Aunt Lillibet looked in the cupboard. “It’s not here,” she said.

“I know,” Benson said. “I thought I might forget and get it out of the cupboard and eat it, so I took it out of the cupboard and put it under my pillow.”

Aunt Moss marched into Benson’s room and looked under the pillow. “It’s not here!” she called.

“I know,” Benson said. “I thought I might be drawing or reading and then I might forget and start eating it, so I took it out again. I didn’t know what to do, but then Mr Fenn knocked on the door, so I gave it to him to keep it safe.”

“Oh no, not Mr Fenn!” Aunt Lillibet said. “We’ll never see that orange again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you should never trust a wombat with an orange!”

“Never mind, Lillibet, he was only trying to do his best,” Aunt Moss said.

It didn’t make Aunt Lillibet feel any better. “That was the very last orange!” she said. “I was going to make my special orange cake with it.”

“Your special orange cake?” Benson said. “That’s my favourite!”

“I know,” Aunt Lillibet said.

Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Mr Fenn.

Benson’s heart leapt. “Mr Fenn,” he said, ” have you still got that orange I gave you?”

“I’m sorry, Benson, that’s what I came to tell you,” Mr Fenn said. “I lost it.”

“Oh no!” Benson’s heart sank.

Mr Fenn went on, “I put it in this basket with all the other oranges, and now I can’t remember which one was yours.” He showed them a great big basket full of ripe, glistening oranges.

“So many oranges!” Benson gasped.

” I’ve just picked the last of the oranges off my orange tree. I came over earlier to see if you wanted any,” Mr Fenn said.

“Do we!!” Benson said. “I really like oranges, you know.”

“I know,” said Mr Fenn. He gave them the whole basket full. Aunt Lillibet made her special orange cake and everyone sat down together and ate it. Benson thought it was probably the best orange cake he had ever eaten.

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