3 years ago 💘 for day 7, 2019 with 373 words.

A Wombat

It is a drunkard's stagger, spilling him away from the knotted tussock grass and onto the road in a wobbly parabola. A pause, a sniff, then a purposeful stumble back toward the treeline - as if the whiff of an end-of-night kebab and "just one more to wet the whistle" had focused the senses. A brick shithouse in marsupial form, flipped gently on its side and sent out into the world.

They'd often come undone on the road up to Jindy where they had a habit of meandering onto the highway midwinter, only to stop and glare at oncoming traffic as it slid toward them on black overnight ice. The rangers would drag them off the road and tag them with a pink fluro X. This signified that they had been checked to see there were no young, hidden in pouches, and which had survived the initial collision. A graffiti of habitat destruction and too-fast cars on too-small roads.

Once, at the tail end of a snow season, I saw one upside down, a half-smoked dart hanging from opened mouth and a six-pack worth of crushed tinnies scattered around. A bender as still life, manufactured by restless snowboarders stuck in the morning jam on the way up the Perisher Valley. Funny, sure, but the kind of funny that made you look behind you to make sure no-one else had seen you laughing.

Interestingly, old mate who is now making a go for the trees also has a pink X on his back. It is complemented by a series of crusted scabs along his sides and a line of missing hair that runs from the tip of his prodigious nose down to fat, stubby tail. A patchwork of fine scars are visible where the hair is missing. He turns for a final sniff of the air turned dusty by car wheels, shrugs, and vanishes into the grass.

I can only surmise the X means at some time in the recent past he has had a go at a passing car, taken a spill, been mistaken for dead, subsequently and ignominiously been sprayed pink, and then some hours later quietly resurrected himself. That would give anyone the appetite for a kebab.

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By Dan Woods

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