Bonus 24: Boort the Wombat

Boort the Wombat
Matt Zurbo

Boort was a wombat who wanted something more.

The land was dry, foxes were about. There were easier things to be than a wombat in the drought, but Boort had no complaints. “Why be something else?” he thought. Boort was happy being Boort. He just wanted something more.

“What’s wrong, Boort?” asked Kangaroo.
“Don’t you want something more?” Boort said.
“More?” Kangaroo said. “I eat, I box, I jump. Boing, boing, boing! What more is there?”
And Kangaroo hopped, boing, boing, boing,

Boort was jealous. Kangaroo was on the coat of arms, in ALL the stories.
Boort didn’t want that, though, just something more.

Boort asked the Goanna; “Don’t you want something more?”
“More?” said Goanna. “Being me is enough.”
“Of course it is!” said Boort. “You’re related to dinosaurs!”
Goanna hissed. “Is it true wombats do square poos? No other animal in the world can do square poos!”
“I WANT SOMETHING MORE!” Boort shouted.

That startled the white cockatoo, who was sleeping on a perch. “Squawk!” humphed White Cocky, and flew away.
Boort was jealous. White Cocky could fly. That was something more. Squawk, squawk, squawk! Cockatoos would fill the sky with their noise!

Boort put one of White Cocky’s stray feathers behind his cute little wombat ear, and, that dawn, when it was time for bed, dreamed of flying.
It was a sweet dream.
In it, Boort had wings. People said; “Wow! A flying wombat!” He soared a lot, and swooped and swooshed and teased clouds.
…In his dream it rained square poos!

But, even in his imagination, Boort wanted more.

Boort’s frustration was so great it even got the attention of mythical Outback creatures. Finally, by moonlight, at the edge of the billabong, Bunyip peered down from his tree.
“WHAT… do you want that’s more?” it hissed.
“I DON”T KNOW!” Boort cried, tears falling down his fury face.
“Can’t ya, y’know, be happy being you?” Bunyip asked.
“I am,” Boort insisted. “I just want more. Even for the smallest while.”

Boort was so upset, he didn’t even realise he was talking to a mythical being!
“Let’s see,” Bunyip pondered aloud. “Do you want to be a part of the Dreamtime?”
Aboriginal mythology? The Dreamtime was BIG! 
A bunyip was NOT a thing to be messed with! A bunyip had many jobs; to protect the Outback from strangers; to haunt the unworthy, to guard billabongs… and, sometimes, if the mood took them, to help.
“The Dreamtime?” asked Boort, wiping away his tears.

“Sure,” said Bunyip. “If the Dreamtime can’t help the Waketime occasionally, what good is it?”
“The Waketime?” asked Boort.
Bunyip bit all seven of its tongues. It reminded itself that, yes, wombats weren’t that bright, but had hearts of gold.
“The Waketime: You, the living, ya drongo,” Bunyip said. “I’m gunna ask the Dreamtime to give you something more.”

The bunyip called. It called and called! It sang like a corroboree, like a million outback birds at dawn. It hustled like a lyrebird. It prowled like a mud crab, and danced like a courting puff fish.
It howled with the voice of a thousand dingos, to the spirit world for help.

And the Dreamtime heard.

A big mountain range shook its ridge-line, rocks crumbled. Suddenly, Wombat saw the mountains were just a giant gecko that had laid down to sleep after battle. Big, fat trees showed themselves to be ancient Aboriginal storm gods, with spiders in their legs.
A huge rock formation turned its head. Only it wasn’t rocks, it was an emu, readying to throw its egg into the sky, where it would catch alight, and become the sun.
Boort the wombat was dumbstruck! The Dreamtime was a living thing, made up of every object he saw and walked through every day!

“Who bothers us?” the giant gecko boomed.
“Ah, yep. That’ll be me,” said Bunyip, doing a little dance down by the billabong.
“Oh,” one of the storm gods said, squinting hard to spot something so small.
“This wombat here is called Boort. It has a need so great it’s, y’know, bloody impressive!” Bunyip said. “Like, mythical. I reckon we should help.”
“What wombat?” the Dreamtime asked.
“This one!” Bunyip rolled its eyes. But turned to look and saw Boort was gone.

Boort was no hero! Giant mountains that were really lizards? Emu gods lighting the sun? He wanted out of there! Quick smart!
Yet Snake cut him off.
“Are you mad?” Snake hissed. “You said you wanted something more! Well, This is SOMETHING MORE!”
“But…” Boort puffed his wombat cheeks. “Big…! And mountains…! And…!” he flubbered. “I mean… woh!”

“Craw… crawwwww… Relaxxxxx,” said Crow, in that lazy drawl of hers.
“Ahh…” Boort sighed. Crow’s drawl was perfect, so lethargic, so timeless. NO creature could be stressed after hearing that!
Boort stopped to think.
“Trust us,” hissed Goanna, and white cockies carried Boort to Kangaroo, who hopped him back to Bunyip.

It felt like everybody was after poor little Boort!
“I’m just a wombat,” he mumbled.

Boort watched all the eyes on him. And they weren’t normal eyes! Dreamtime eyes were made of curled up water buffalos, of clusters of mosquitoes, of lightening and thunder. Eyes that were a thousand earwigs, eyes that were fields of brilliant desert flowers. Eyes that were clusters of desert frogs, hibernating for years under the earth, waiting for rain.
Oh, Boort felt small!
“Sorry I got scared,” he mumbled. “I just want more. And I can’t find it in the burrows I dig, or on the ground.”

To the creatures of the Dreamtime, Boort’s voice sounded like a mouse. But his need shone bright.
“Then maybe you should fly…” the mountain range that looked like a gecko boomed.
“I’d like to fly. I even dreamed it,” Boort confessed.
And the giant gecko flicked its earth and rock tale.

Boort felt the ground underneath him shift and CRACK, like a whip! Then this great sense of speed. He was soaring UP! Up, up, up, into the air!
“Deadly,” he said.
But, he didn’t have time to glide like eagles, making everybody feel free, or swoop like magpies, making everybody feel brave. He couldn’t even chirp like a willy wagtail!
Boort was a wombat. A wombat with a feather in his ear, flying higher and higher! A hairy rock thrown into the air.

“This is not enough,” he whispered, through clenched wombat teeth. “This is just me being scared.”
Even up there, he wanted more.

Boort rose into the clouds. He grabbed and swiped, but they went right through his claws.

Soon, he was rising towards the stars, that had all sorts of strange, silver creatures dangling off of them. A bull, a crab, two fish, some scales, constellations, dragons that chortled and winked and laughed quietly to themselves.
A billion stars that whispered; “The Dreamtime goes forever…”

Boort lifted his paw to touch them, but they were too far.

Finally, Boort reached the height of all there is. Up there, he knew the sun was really a burning emu egg. But it was also still the sun.

He strained to touch it, he reached…
“Nothing!” he gasped.

Boort’s heart sunk. He felt lonely, hollow inside.

But then, he heard Bunyip calling; “Hey, numbskull! Turn around!”
And, as Boort reached the full height of his rise, he saw his paw had created a shadow that covered the Outback.
The little wombat had made an eclipse!

Down on the ground, magpies sung good-night songs. Owls took flight! Lizards danced. Dingos howled and howled. People and animals ran in little circles thinking the world was coming to an end!
Everybody was affected in some small way. Everybody had been touched, be they big or small.

And then, as Boort fell down again, his paw moved from blocking the sun.
He heard the magpies sing morning songs, owls go to sleep and the moon shout; “Sun! Make up your mind!” He saw people and animals cheer that the world was not coming to an end after all.

White Cocky flew past Boort, losing another feather. Boort grabbed it, and took the other out from behind his ear. Holding one in each paw, he glided enough for Bunyip to catch his fall.
“Nice one!” Bunyip said, before climbing up its tree again.
And Boort was content. He had wanted more, and, for a brief time, had an impact on us all.

Wombats have short memories. Soon, Boort was happily eating grass again, doing square poos. Glad, without knowing why.
Sometimes, as he ate, he heard stories about “The Day the Sun Hid” being told.
And always listened in awe!


The End.

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