Written by Jessica Hartwig
This story is about a little girl named Elise who wakes up due to a bad dream. Her mother tells her a fable about how the earth was created because of a lovely lady named Skywoman who befriends animals and creates the world as we know it. The mother tells the story to Elise and then Elise is able to settle down and fall asleep.
Keywords: Creation story, fables, Mother-daughter relationships, fantasy
Late one night, Elise woke up with a bad dream.
“Momma!” she called out into the dark abyss that was her hallway. “I had a nightmare and can’t go back to sleep. Will you please tell me a story?”
That was Elise’s favorite pastime activity, listening to her mother’s crazy, adventurous tales. Her mother sluggishly walked into Elise’s room, rubbing her eyes.
“I have the perfect story for you, my little bean,” said Momma with a groggy, sleepy voice. Elise sat up in bed, making room for her mother to sit down next to her.
“This story is our story, all of our stories. A long, long time ago, before any human lived on planet earth, there was the Skyworld. This world was like no other, bright and lively. But underneath it, was darkness… nothingness. One day, the Skywoman, a beautiful soon-to-be mother, decided to see what was beyond her Skyworld. In search of a new home for her future child, she ventured out, not bothering to look back to her previous world. It took Skywoman hours to go through the darkness, but everywhere she went, light followed. During her journey, she found seeds and plants, so she picked the seeds and fruits. Finally, she met a pack of geese.”
“Geese are mean!” shrieked Elise. “They chased me at the park last week, remember momma? And I didn’t even do anything to them!” Momma laughed and continued on with her story.
“These geese were not mean like the ones at the park. In fact, these geese were so kind to Skywoman, they offered to fly her wherever she desired. Eventually, the geese got tired and needed to rest. ‘We’re really sorry, miss,’ said the head goose, ‘but my troops just aren’t cut out for this long, treacherous journey. We’d love to help you get more assistance, though.’
‘Why don’t we ask other animals to come help us out?’ asked another goose. Soon after, hundreds of animals were lined up to help the Skywoman on her journey. Unfortunately, none were strong enough to carry her on her way, until a large and wise tortoise offered to carry Skywoman on his back. ‘That is awfully kind of you,’ said Skywoman. ‘As you can see, I am with child and need to find a suitable home for the two of us. Do you know anywhere that would be good?’
‘Nothing around here would be good enough for someone as beautiful and kind as you, but I do have some friends down the way that are wanting to put something together…something new. Just for us. Does that interest you ma’am?’ the tortoise asked, wanting to help the Skywoman as much as he could, for he knew that she could not survive on her own in her current condition.
‘I think that sounds splendid. I must meet these friends of yours.’ So Skywoman and the tortoise went on their way to meet his friends.
“After Skywoman met the tortoise’s friends, they all agreed they need to start working on their new land as soon as possible. ‘In order to begin, someone needs to go to the bottom of the ocean and collect the best clump of mud that they can muster,’ said the tortoise. ‘I would go myself, but as you can see, my little hands cannot hold enough mud. Someone else must be brave enough to do it.’ So one by one, the animals went to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve the perfect sample of mud. But due to the deep water, and intense pressure, none of the animals could seem to do it. Finally, the only animal left to volunteer was a muskrat. Everyone laughed and scoffed at the little animal, thinking he wasn’t strong enough to do it. Before he dove down, the muskrat took a giant breath of air, and then he disappeared under the waves. He was down there for so long; some animals began to lose hope. Some thought he had died or given up and swam away in fear of embarrassment. But just as Skywoman was beginning to lose hope, muskrat broke through the water, gasping for air. In his tiny paw, was a clump of beautiful mud. The animals and Skywoman all erupted into cheers and hoorahs. The little muskrat had actually done it.
‘Here, put the mud on my back and I will hold onto it,’ said the tortoise. Skywoman spread the mud onto the tortoise’s back, then out of sheer joy and happiness, she danced. Skywoman danced and danced, spreading light and joy everywhere her feet touched. And with it, grew the land. After the land grew, she remembered the seeds and fruits she had found on her way into the darkness, and she decided to plant them. Her plants and seeds thrived in the soil and multiplied, providing more and more sustenance for herself and the animals of the land. This land soon would be named Turtle Island, and it’s the land we call home today.”
“So America is actually Turtle Island?” asked Elise.
“According to this tale, yes,” replied momma, gently stroking Elise’s head. “This story reminds us that the first humans on this earth were immigrants. We humans are not at the top of the hierarchy of beings. Plants have been here far longer than we have and can literally survive with just sunlight and air. We need to remember to cherish the Earth and what inhabits it.”
“I liked that story,” Elise said while yawning, eyes drooping shut.
“I do too,” said Momma. “Now get some sleep my little bean. I’ll see you in the morning.” And with that, Momma shut Elise’s door and went to sleep, dreaming of Skywoman and her travels.