Water Plus Land Makes Sky
by Janet Slike
(Dublin, OH, USA)
When the world was new the sky wasn't blue. It was dull gray day and night. The wise wizards told the people not to bother looking at the sky. The people obeyed.
So no one ever saw a sunrise. No one ever saw a lion or a bear in the evening stars.
In a red brick castle under that dull gray sky lived twin princesses.
Princess Samantha loved water creatures, creatures from the sea and creatures from the rivers. She admired the beauty of a sea turtle's checkerboard back. She smiled when she saw a curled seahorse tail. She said "Ooh." when she spied wavy, clear jellyfish legs.
One day she saw a river otter floating on his back and wondered what he saw. She tilted her head up. For the first time she really noticed the sky.
"How drab! An otter shouldn't have to watch that," she said to her sister Princess Tara.
Princess Tara loved land creatures. She was amazed that milk came out of a cow and that eggs came out of a hen. She found it stupendous that a barn snake could completely shed its skin when he grew tired of it.
One day she climbed a tall maple tree to rescue her cat. She stretched her neck back as she reached up to grab him. For the first time really noticed the sky.
"How ordinary! Why did my cat climb closer to that?" she asked Princess Samantha.
The two sisters wanted a sky that people would enjoy watching. Once they decided how the sky should look, they would ask a palace wizard to change it.
"The sky could be gold and sparkly," said Princess Tara.
"No, the brightness would blind the birds," said Princess Samantha. "The sky could have multicolored stripes," she suggested.
"Not everyday. Why don't we have stripes after rainstorms?" said Princess Tara.
"That's fine. But what should it be like the rest of the time?"
They drew pictures of different skies: pink skies with green curliques, green skies with yellow zigzags, yellow skies with purple hearts, None looked right.
They drew by the water. The water creatures saw Princess Samantha break a crayon in frustration.
They drew on the land. The land creatures saw Princess Tara crumble sheets of paper and toss them away.
Since the princesses couldn't agree, they went to bed.
The water creatures wanted to please Princess Samantha. The land creatures wanted to please Princess Tara.
While the princesses slept, the water creatures splashed the water's blueness straight up to the sky. A gull flew to the barn to tell the land creatures it was their turn. The sheep offered their fleece. The land creatures took turns gently pulling it out. The gull took the tufts to the sky and made clouds.
The princesses awoke to glorious birdsong so loud and clear they couldn't ignore it. They tilted their heads up and saw the perfect sky.
The creatures made it for you. What do you think??" the palace wizard asked.
"Let's take a good look at it," said Princess Samantha.
They spread a blanket on the ground and laid down.
They thought the sky was beautiful.
Then the sky turned gray.
"Has it returned to how it used to be? It's elephant gray," said Princess Tara.
"It's fine. Keep watching," answered the wizard.
The sky turned black. Drops of rain fell. The wizard threw an invisible cape over the princesses to keep them dry.
"It is even darker than before. It's darker than squid ink," said Princess Samantha.
"Don't worry," said the wizard.
Lightning flashed and thunder crashed. The princesses shivered in fear, but didn't say a word.
The rain stopped and they saw stripes in the sky.
In her joy, Princess Samantha kissed a dolphin. In her bliss, Princess Tara hugged a sheep.
They turned to the wizard. "You didn't help?" they asked.
"Just with the sky stripes, which were your idea," the wizard replied modestly. "Perhaps we could call that a rainbow."
"Perfect!" they exclaimed. "The sky is better than we dreamed it could be."
They watched the sky with the creatures they loved until the sun set and the stars appeared. No one wished upon the stars that first night. Their wish had already been granted.