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’s cousin, Lance came over. Aunt Lillibet was having a lie-down with an interesting book about slugs, and Aunt Moss and Benson’s mother were out shopping. Benson was drawing a very complicated drawing of the sea.
Cousin Lance asked him, “Is your mother here?”
Benson said, “No, she’s gone shopping.” He was trying to figure out how to make a fish smile with only half a mouth.
Lance said, “Oh. I really wanted to talk to her.”
Benson kept drawing. He couldn’t get the fish to smile, so he drew some nice wavy seaweed across its face instead, and he made its eye happy.
Lance said. “Do you know when she’ll be back?”
Benson drew lots more wavy seaweed. It was fun. “No,” he said.
Lance said, “It’s about Wilma.”
Benson remembered Wilma. Once he had visited cousin Lance’s place, and he and Wilma had had lunch together. “Wilma’s nice,” he said. He drew a long elegant fish with stripes like Wilma’s hair and red sparkly dots like Wilma’s fingernails.
“I think so too,” Lance said. “But I don’t know if she likes me.”
“Why don’t you ask her?” Benson said.
“I can’t do that,” Lance said. “I’ve tried everything. I’ve taken her for moonlight walks, and I’ve given her flowers, and I even learned to play the ukulele for her.”
“Did you make her your loganberry-treacle-meringue cake?” Benson asked.
“Yes, but she said she was on a diet,” Lance said sadly.
“She didn’t want your loganberry-treacle-meringue cake?” Benson gasped. “Are you sure you really like her?”
“I’m crazy about her,” Lance confessed. “I even tried writing poetry for her, but I’m hopeless at it. Listen to this.” He took a piece of paper out of his pocket and read, “’Wilma, you make me want to dance. I loved you from our very first glance.’”
Benson said, “You’re right, you are hopeless. Why don’t you just say, ‘I love your nose, I love your knees, I love you more than bread and cheese.’” Benson thought it said a lot. He drew a seahorse eating a piece of bread and cheese.
“I don’t know what to do,” Lance said.
Just then there was a knock at the door. It was Wilma.
Benson said to her, “Hi Wilma. Did you come to see Lance?”
Wilma pretended she didn’t know Lance was there. “No, I came to see you, Benson,” she said. “You’re Lance’s friend, and I thought maybe you could talk to him for me.”
Benson sighed. There was this beautiful piece of white paper in front of him, and his head was full of fishy ideas, and Wilma and Lance wanted to talk to him.
“Okay, if you really want me to,” he said.
Wilma said, “I wanted you to tell Lance that I really like him, but I’m worried that we’re too different from each other, so we won’t be able to make each other happy.”
Benson had gotten bored half-way through what she was saying, and started drawing a flounder instead. He said to Lance, “Wilma likes you.”
Lance said, “Does she? Do you really think so?”
Benson rubbed some of the barracuda’s teeth out and drew them again, only sharper. He said to Lance without looking up, “She thinks you’re different.”
Lance said, “I’ll change! I’d do anything for her. I’ll get taller. I’ll grow a moustache.”
Benson looked up. “Can you really grow a moustache?” he said.
“I don’t know,” Lance said, “but if Wilma wanted me to, I’d try.”
Wilma said, “Benson, could you tell Lance that I don’t want him to change. I love him just the way he is. It’s not him, it’s me.”
“It’s you,” Benson said to Lance. The barracuda had grown a long, wavy moustache and Benson had to rub it out.
Wilma said, “It’s your house, Lance! It’s so tidy and there’s no stuff anywhere, and everything’s white. I’m really messy, and I love to have colour everywhere.”
Benson said, “She hates your house.”
Lance said, “I know, Benson, I got that.” He said to Wilma, “Is that all? I was just going to change the colour anyway. I’m sick of black and white.”
Wilma said, “That’s not the only thing.” She went red and said, “I can’t cook!”
Lance said, “I know that.”
Wilma said, “No, I really can’t cook. I can’t even make a sandwich. If you gave me two slices of bread and some peanut butter, I wouldn’t know where to put the peanut butter.”
Benson stopped drawing and started to think about sandwiches.
Lance smiled and took Wilma’s hand. “There’s nothing I’d love more than cooking for you,” he said.
Benson said, “Can we start now?”
Wilma said, “Really?”
“Really,” Lance said.
Benson went into the kitchen and got the peanut butter and the bread. And some celery and a green apple, and some mango pickles. And some tomatoes and the carrot paste and some blueberry jelly. If you were going to make a sandwich, he thought, you might as well make it worthwhile.
Wilma said, “I even tried writing a poem for you.” She got out a piece of paper and read, “’You’re the one that I love, Lance. No-one else can stand a chance.’”
Lance thought it was wonderful. “I wrote you a poem too!” he said. He read his poem to her. Wilma thought it was beautiful.
Benson was so busy deciding whether to put the peanut butter on the bottom and the blueberry jelly on top or the other way around, he didn’t see what happened next. “Sandwich, anyone?” he said.