• Norma Hughes

THE BOATMEN

Updated: Aug 2

There were once two brothers, the sons of the Moon, each as rambunctious and conceited as the other. As they grew into men, so too did their rivalry. At every passing moment, the brothers would think up new ways to outwit or overpower the other. They would destroy whole planets, clear skies of stars, their actions becoming more perilous and foolhardy. Their mother, solitary in her position amongst the stars, would often turn a shadowed face on them to watch the Earth, for she did not understand the relationship between her sons, nor the seriousness and danger in their games.

One day, while the Moon was not looking, the brothers entered the sacred spirit realm that existed inside a pond of darkness near the edge of the stars. This was a pure realm, said to house the spirits of the ancient creatures that once roamed between the stars. Whilst walking throughout the land, they spied two great Spirit Beasts. Their eyes were large and black, filled with knowledge. Their body was covered in a soft long fur that collected tiny particles of star dust so that it shimmered red, purple and green. They were kindly beasts with long memories, and they were quiet and content in their little realm. The brothers however, saw them as game and wagered a bet as to who could outride the other. They ensnared the great beasts and dug their heels into them, urging them forward. They covered vast fields of stars and rode further than the light of all the great suns could reach. Upon seeing that he was falling behind, the eldest brother kicked his beast, spurring it into a frenzy. The beast bolted, black sap starting to leak from its nose and eyes, but the elder brother pushed and pushed till he made it back to the Moon before the younger brother.

In surprise the Moon turned to look upon her sons, only to see a sight of horror. The beast’s bodies were broken and bent from the jagged stars, their fur matted with the black sap of their blood. The eldest son’s beast drenched the ground in sap where it stood, its breathing becoming more laboured till it eventually collapsed. The moon was furious at her sons, but her anger stemmed also from the shame she felt at her own negligence. She banished them to Earth, knowing that once they entered Earth’s domain they would no longer be able to return to her. Her sons grovelled at her feet, pleading to her with tear soaked eyes, but she would not listen. She gave them a boat, made from the stone of her body, and its nets the fabric of her cloak, and imprisoned them to the task of pulling the sea to appease the life lost by the spirit beast. Everyday, the brothers had to wrench and heave the unruly sea with their cloth nets tied around their tiny boat, and in doing so the tides ebbed and flowed across the small planet. Each night, the brothers would look to the rising Moon and cry out for forgiveness, but too far was their mother now to hear them.


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