Excerpt from Green Wombat Down Under
By David R Lewis
Emma was totally gobsmacked.
Emma’s dad always said gobsmacked when he was blown away by anything that surprised him. Like the day a kid brought a blue-tongue lizard into Dad’s small animal hospital and said it had a sore throat.
‘Well, I’ll be gobsmacked,’ Dad said.
But Dad wasn’t at the shack on the day that Emma saw Horace the wombat waddle out of the cave on the beach. Dad was treating animals at his veterinary hospital back in Adelaide. And Mum had definitely NOT invited Dad to the beach shack.
Mum was cross because Dad said he was too busy during the school holidays to take time out to go to the shack.
But Emma knew Dad would be incredibly surprised if he was with her on the balcony overlooking the beach.
A wombat on the beach was weird enough. But a green wombat on the beach? That was gobsmacking.
‘Angus!’ Emma screamed. ‘Look. Wombat. Near the cave!’
Angus was racing screaming seagulls along the beach, orange bathers clinging to skinny white legs, a purple T-shirt in one hand flapping in the wind like a pirate ship flag.
‘Annn – gaaahs,’ Emma shrieked into the wind. ‘Look!’
The wombat vanished into the cave. Gone.
The setting sun washed blood-red sunlight over the cave’s big black mouth. Inky-blue sea rippled near the craggy cave as splashes of light danced over waves.
The wombat disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
No Horace the wombat. No green wombat. Not even a regular brown, hairy-nosed one.
Angus charged up the sandy path snaking from the beach to the shack. He stumbled over a rock, laughed, scrambled to his feet, barely stopping for breath. Red-faced, puffing, he clambered to the cliff-top. Bolted up the stairs to the balcony and halted, gasping, beside Emma.
‘You shoulda seen,’ he wheezed.
‘You saw Horace wombat? Green?’
Angus looked hard at Emma's pale face, her gaping mouth, eyes big
behind bottle-end glasses skewed sideways.
‘Yeah, sure I did Em. Hairy Horace the wombat at the beach on his boogie board, hanging five. Whaddaya mean, did I see Horace?’
Angus leaned over the balcony, shaking gritty sand from a shock of carroty hair.
‘I did see waves. Huge. Wicked.’
Emma sighed. Day one at the shack had been ordinary enough. Until she saw the green wombat. Ordinary enough, even if she was not happy being at the shack without Dad. She had decided to wear her Silent Look: ignore Mum, stare into the distance. The view from the balcony was perfect for the Silent Look. Nothing but green-blue sea, all the way to the horizon. And a patch of wet, seaweed-strewn sand and rugged rocks. And a cave gouged into the cliff at one side of the beach.
Emma had watched the sun slide toward the sea like a big fat beach ball. Angus, her best friend and the only other member of their Oracle Club, chased seagulls almost from the moment they arrived that afternoon.
And then she saw Horace. Or at least a wombat.
But wombats were definitely not green.