The Unicorn

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

One morning the kookaburras were busy early, just as the sun was coming up, and their noise woke everybody. Benson’s mother turned over and went back to sleep. Benson got his library book and snuggled deep in his blankets, and read some interesting things about pyramids and ancient Egypt. But Aunt Moss decided it would be a perfect time to do her morning exercises, outside in the fresh air.

She got up very quietly so as not to disturb anyone, and she put on her pink leotard and a warm scarf in case it was cold outside, then she very quietly went outside.

It was a very misty morning. There were pools of mist among the trees and in the back yard it was so misty that Moss could hardly see where she was going. She bumped into the fence around Aunt Lillibet’s vegetable garden and decided that this was as good a place as any to do her exercises.

She did some stretches and some deep breathing, and then she started. She moved her arms and legs slowly and gracefully, lifting one knee and then the other. It was so still and misty and quiet, she felt as if she had the whole valley to herself. It made her feel very calm and happy.

Presently she got so warm that she took her scarf off. She tied it around her waist so that it didn’t get dirt on it from the garden.

“All this exercise is making me hungry,” she thought. She was standing right next to the carrot patch, so she pulled up a beautiful, fat carrot. “Mmm, delicious!” she said to herself. She pulled off the green, leafy part and then she looked very carefully at the top of the carrot to make sure there were no slugs or snails.

Now meanwhile, all the time Aunt Moss was doing her exercises, Benson was reading about building giant pyramids with secret passages and underground tunnels, and he started thinking about digging his own tunnel, so he decided to get up and see what kind of day it was going to be and if it was going to be a good day for digging.

He went out the front door and stood there peering out through the early morning mist. Then he saw something very surprising. Over by the vegetable garden there was a pink shining creature with a pointy horn in the middle of its forehead.

“A unicorn!” he breathed. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. It was hard to see through the mist, but he was sure.

He ran inside and woke his mother up. “A unicorn! There’s a unicorn in the garden!” he said.

His mother opened one sleepy eye. “A what?” she said.

“A unicorn!” he said. “There’s a unicorn in the back yard! Come and look!”

It was very warm and snuggly in Benson’s mother’s bed, but she could see that he was excited, so she got up and started to get dressed.

Meanwhile, in the garden, Aunt Moss ate her carrot and finished doing her exercises and came inside again, as quietly as she could so as not to disturb anyone. She got changed out of her leotard, and then she thought that all the fresh air had made her quite sleepy, so she lay down on her bed for a minute. Before long she was sound asleep.

Benson’s mother finished getting dressed and they both went outside. “It was over there,” Benson said, “right beside the carrot patch.” But there was no sign of any unicorn.

“Are you sure?” his mother asked him. “It’s very misty. Maybe what you saw was a wallaby.”

“No, it was a unicorn!” Benson said. “It had a horn, and it was pink, and it had a kind of tail. It was right there!” he said.

They walked over to the carrot patch, but there was nothing there. His mother said, “Well, if it was a unicorn, it’s gone now.”

Just then Aunt Lillibet came out in her gumboots, ready to catch any slugs that might be trying to eat her cabbages. “What are you two doing trampling around in my garden?” she said.

“I saw a unicorn!” Benson said. “It was right here!”

Aunt Lillibet pfffed. “Unicorns are just made-up, Benson,” she said. “They aren’t real.”

“But I saw one!” he said. “It was pink and beautiful, and it was right there!” He pointed to the ground.

Aunt Lillibet looked where he was pointing and said, “Ohh!” There was a clump of small pink flowers growing in the dirt where Benson was pointing. “Look!” she gasped.

“No, it can’t be!” Benson’s mother said.

“It is,” Aunt Lillibet said. “I’ve never seen one before. They’re extremely rare. Benson, this is extraordinary! You’ve found a pink flannel flower!”

“Have I?” Benson said. It looked like an ordinary little pink flower to him.

Aunt Moss came out, rubbing her eyes and yawning. “What’s all the excitement about?” she asked.

“Benson’s found a pink flannel flower!” Aunt Lillibet exclaimed.

“That’s amazing!” Aunt Moss said.

It was so amazing that people came from miles around to look at it. They all wanted to take photos of Benson and the little pink flower. The bushcare group even had a special sign made with Benson’s name on it, and they put it up in the Community Centre next to a picture of the pink flannel flower, with a frame around it.

Everyone told Benson’s mother she must be very proud of him. For months he was quite famous, until everyone forgot about it. But for years afterwards, Benson remembered the morning he had seen a unicorn in the mist.

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