Once upon a time, but not so very long ago, in the history of our land, in the Dreamtime, there was no day and night.
The sun rose and set, but the moon was much brighter, and there were no stars.
The land was much drier and hotter, too, and the many peoples of the land struggled to rest or find food. When it is always day, no one could tell when to rest, and the land had no reprive from the scorching sun. Plants withered, billabongs dried, and animals also grew weary and thin.
One day, the Elders of the Aboriginal Nations gathered together and agreed that something had to be done. Old Man Emu, the biggest of the birds, agreed to fly up and cover the moon, but the heat burned his wings so he could no longer fly. Next, the brolgas who live in the wetland plains tried, but the moon ran away from them, and there were not enough brolgas to cover the entire sky.
So, the Elders gathered their people and wove a great shroud out of reeds and grasses, big enough to cover the entire sky, from horizon to horizon, and the birds lifted it up to hide the moon.
The land was plunged into darkness.
It had never been dark before, except inside the deepest caves where the Spirits live, and the people were afraid. They stumbled around, unable to see or find their way.
After many hours, they began to sing, as the birds since to call to each other, and sang the brolgas home, bringing the shroud with them.
"We cannot keep the shroud up there." One Elder decided, "For lack of light and heat will kill the plants and animals just as surely as too much of it has."
"There must be a balance," declared another Elder. "But what?"
Many hours passed, and the land grew too hot again, and the birds lifted the shroud back into the sky.
As the people watched, a Numbat crept from its hole, where it had been watching, quiet and clever. "Perhaps this is what we should do;" the Elders observed, "and cover the sky for part of the day."
They all agreed that this was a fine idea, but the Moon was very angry. As the birds descended, singing to herald the new day, the Moon tried to burn a hole in the shroud.
"It will not hurt to have a little light in the darkness," observed Green Turtle, who lives in the rivers and waters and is a friend to the people. "Let the shroud rest in the ocean, so that it will be too wet for Moon to burn."
"Bring me up with you", said Spider, golden and long-legged, "I can mend the shroud just as I mend my webs."
So they did, but the water made the shroud heavy, and the birds had to grip it harder, making tiny holes in the cloth where more light shone through, like bird-tracks in the ground.
Spider mended the hole the Moon burned, but she grows tired, and Moon tries to undo her work, and so the moon shrinks to a sliver, then grows big and round, and back again.
This is why the Moon changes shape, and why the stars shine at night.
I admit, it was harder than I thought to fix on a good subject for a myth that didn't sound like I was cribbing off one of the many actual Dreamtime stories I read as a child...
I wanted to do something in the style of Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, and the opening line is borrowed from Mem Fox, an iconic Australian Children's author. I hope I did them justice.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Compelling and original writing
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Original narrative & well developed characters
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
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Writing reflected the title & theme