Denton Writes 2010 Winner-Children’s Fiction-Rachel Suzanne Valentine

                                The Northern Lights

                          By Rachel Suzanne Valentine

            Once upon a time there was an Inuit girl named Siki. She had long black hair and bright black eyes. She lived in a particularly barren part of Northern Greenland. She lived as a nomad, hunting and making an igloo to live in as she traveled around Greenland hunting. She had a bow, arrows, and a knife made out of whalebone. She hunted all sorts of animals from the smallest arctic hare to even the largest polar bear.

            One day while she was out hunting, she found a small ice cave dug into the side of a mountain cliff. Inside she found a small polar bear huddled close to his mother. His mother had died and he was thin and emaciated. Siki showed a rare act of kindness and spared its life and she offered it the food she had caught that day. The cub followed her home and would not stray more than a few feet away from her igloo. She invited him inside. They have been constant companions ever since and were rarely seen apart. She than named him Inuk.

            Siki barely ever showed an act of compassion such as this. Her heart was as barren and icy as the landscape around her. Besides Inuk, she had never really loved anything.

            As she was gazing at the jagged wasteland one summer day a beautiful sight greeted her. A particularly bad blizzard had kept her confined inside her igloo with only Inuk for company. The forever-radiant sun shone brilliantly in the shy. Siki’s spirit soared.  Her icy heart began to thaw and she smiled up at the sun. She was in love.

            She watched it for hours on end, until the sun began to move over a tall mountain range. It was disappearing! Her polar bear was large and was now easily able to carry her upon its back. She jumped on its back and together they raced across the Arctic.

            They raced for many days and many nights, following the sun west. Finally they could go no farther. They had literally reached the edge of the world. Siki stood upon a cliff overlooking the ocean. The sun was above Siki, and glittered dazzlingly. Siki reached a hand up to attempt to stroke the sun, but found she could not reach it. Suddenly, a ripple appeared in the middle of the ocean. It spread bigger and bigger and it almost looked as if something was giving off vibrations beneath the ocean surface.

             Seemingly out of nowhere Siki heard a sound which was completely out of place in the icy landscape. It was a dry, raspy hiss. In an explosion of ice and water, something shot up out of the ground. It was dangerous, venomous, and terrifying looking, but it was still the most beautiful thing Siki had ever seen. It had scales that glittered an iridescent rainbow of colors: blues, greens, and purples. It had eyes that were gold with dark black slits in the middle. It had a pink tongue that flickered in and out of its mouth, and it also had white fangs, dripping with poison. Its scales were shimmery and still had water sliding off of them. Siki was only used to the whites, grays, and browns you saw in the arctic. This creature was quite obviously a sea serpent.

            The serpent stared down at her. It had to be the size of the sky, at least. Siki drew her bow and notched an arrow. She let the arrow fly. She hit it squarely in the side of its head, not quite hitting its eye. Siki shot arrow after arrow in to the serpent’s flank. The serpent didn’t even blink. It just looked at her furiously.

            Siki saw it arch its back, but she did not anticipate this as a sign of it getting ready to strike. It swung its head at her viciously and the blow sent her flying back in to a snowdrift. She stood up shakily, her head spinning. Siki felt warm blood oozing through her white fur parka. Her bow and her arrows had flown out of her hands and sunk straight to the bottom of the ocean. She drew her whalebone knife. She had a plan.

            The serpent arched his back, and bared his fangs. Siki saw the head-butt coming. Siki leaped up in the air and landed on the serpent’s head and almost fell right back off because of its slippery scales. She clung on desperately to the serpent’s scales, and she plunged her knife into the serpent’s golden eye. It hissed one last time before it began to topple over. Siki jumped off and landed in a snow bank.

            Siki could not stand up. She sat in the snow bank, letting the cold numbness overtake her. The bright red blood on her tunic was a startling contrast to the white landscape around her. It was not the serpent’s blood. She closed her eyes and did not wake up again. Siki died that day without finding her true love, the sun.

            However, the great Inuit gods felt sorry for her and turned her into a gleaming, white orb in the sky. Siki became the moon. They allowed her to continue her chase for the sun, and she would ride on the back of her white polar bear companion, Inuk. She would follow the sun’s pattern across the sky, forever chasing her beloved but never quite catching it.

            The Inuit gods decreed that the moon would have control over the ocean’s tides, because she had defeated a lord of the water. They than turned the serpent into a celestial body and its rainbow-colored scales became the Northern Lights.

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