this is when the sky split open

for my daughters and your daughters. for my sons and your sons.

the waters began to rise with each drop from the sky. valleys became lakes. mountaintops became islands. land was scarce so the animals gathered. the waters pushed them closer than ever imagined before.

this is when the sky split open.

a woman from the sky peered through that slit and watched the water grow. at night, stars shimmered on the surface as aurora borealis danced across the night sky. sky woman loved how aurora borealis beautiful colours mirrored in the waters below. she loved it so much she wanted to touch that water and feel those vibrations on her skin. so she leaned over. she stretched her hand down as far as she could.

but she couldn’t reach. so she bent down and reached further.

her arms were not long enough. so she laid down where that split was and edged her body closer and closer till the split tore wide open and she began to fall.

all this time the animals were watching her. they understood how one would want to touch the beauty of aurora borealis and feel the colours on their skin. turtle swam to the top of the water and urged the birds to fly up and catch her. a belly flop from that height was sure to do more than just sting. the birds agreed and flew up. they caught her on their backs and brought her down gently on to the back of turtle.

the waters grew so much that the only land was on the back of turtle. all the animals had swam to turtle and were now kicking their feet while they held onto the edges of turtles’ shell.

things were not looking good or sounding good as the first grumbles were heard. the animals looked at each other to see whose belly was grumbling. it was none of the animals. it came from sky woman.

“what does a sky woman eat?” they wondered and eyed each other. the thought of it grossed them out. and sky woman too.

“i can’t eat you. you all saved me,” she said.

there was nothing to eat.

“we need to grow food to eat,” said one.

“we need earth for that,” said another.

“don’t worry about rain, there’s plenty of that,” piped in another.

all the animals began to imagine a new world. kinda like the old one with land to grow vegetables and herbs, trees to grow fruit, bushes to grow berries, and water to flow allowing growth.

“the earth is beneath us. who will bring it to us,” asked sky woman.

bear was big so decided that she could do it. so bear jumped up did a somersault in the air and dove into the water. she was gone for a long time. bubbles began to rise and broke the surface of the water. bear did not rise back up.

the bears began to weep. wolf stepped up, “i will try.”

wolf dove straight in. she was gone for a long time. the bubbles broke the surface of the water. wolf did not rise back up.

the wolves howled and their voices echoed across the great waters.

more of the bigger animals came and went into the water. they went bravely and with courage but did not come back up. everyone was getting upset and feeling like the end was near for all of them.

sky woman began to sing a song. she sang to all of them. their spirits became strong again and the aurora borealis danced for them.

“i will try,” said a little voice. “i will try,” she said again.

sky woman stopped singing. everyone turned to that little voice. and it was muskrat.

muskrat stood up on her hind legs, “i will try.”

some of the animals said, “no. you’re too small. you’re not strong enough.”

one even said, “you’re useless.”

sky woman turned and gave a stern look to the one who said such horrible things.

“you are brave little one. you have lots of courage,” sky woman said and she leaned down to kiss the forehead of muskrat.

muskrat accepted the kiss. she stood up high on her hind legs, pushed with all her might and dove into the water without a splash.

muskrat was gone for so long that all the animals were already looking to see who would try next.

the bubbles rose to the surface. then more bubbles rose. muskrat’s little body floated to the surface. sky woman reached into the water and pulled muskrat to the back of turtle and laid her down. muskrat’s last breath exhaled as she looked into sky woman’s eyes and held up her little hand to her.

sky woman sighed deep and took muskrat’s little hand into her own. in muskrat’s hand was some earth.

“she did it! muskrat did it! she saved us all,” praised sky woman.

“put the earth on my back,” said turtle. “and please keep muskrat there on my back too.”

sky woman took that little piece of earth and sprinkled it on the shell of turtle. and as she did this she sang a song. she danced around muskrat and the piece of earth and and so did all the animals. the earth began to spread out across the shell to all the edges. everyone danced harder and they all sang together.

the turtle grew larger and larger and the earth grew too wider and wider.

sky woman stopped for a short rest. “little muskrat has shown us that it takes courage, bravery, humility, and lots of love to do what she did. no one on this earth is useless. you all have gifts no matter how small or insignificant you think you might be. let’s all remember what muskrat has shown us today and remember her by telling our children her story.”
this story is based on an iroquois story – sky woman falls from the sky, a creation story


4 thoughts on “this is when the sky split open

  1. Vera, I read this when you first posted it. A week or so later we sponsored a story swap. Being the Thunderless time, there were many First Nations stories told. I told a version of Sky Woman. As I was telling the story, I thought of your telling, and realized some part of your version had found its way into mine. Thanks for adding more layers, and inspiration.


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