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End of an Era Writing Contest 2019: Noll's entry

The Serpent Egg

Gather ‘round little ones to hear the tale on the wind. As the sun sets, red reaching to the stars, we begin our story of how all the beauty in the world came into existence.

The story begins many years ago, when the world was but a shriveled orb. There were no streams or rivers, no plains or sprawling forests, no creatures or plants, only dirt and dust. Our world was a lonesome place, no sound or song. But inside the world something churned; deep between the cracks in the earth bubbled a mysterious force. Red and hot as a star, magma seeped through the rifts and reached the surface, where it hardened to stone.

For many years this continued, building up the land. Hills began to pile, the dark rock hardening over itself time and time again. There were no mountains, no—not yet. Those will come in due time.

One day, something strange happened. In one of the crevices in the earth, between the growing hills, a pale pink, round object was forced through. The magma pushed it up and over the hill, where it tumbled down before coming to a halt at the foot of the mound. It laid there, on the dirt and dust, unmoving. It sat like this for many nights, warmed by the churning magma beneath the brown sea.

Many days passed by. On the thirtieth day, a crack began to form on the object’s surface. It split down the center, the line elongating until it broke open. A small head poked out. It was snake-like, with pink scales and feathers extending from behind its head, trailing down its neck. The being slithered from the egg and basked in the glow of the sun for the first time. It extended its small wings, giving them a gentle flutter. This was the first breath of life upon our world.

It was not long until the serpent grew hungry. Pain pierced its body, begging for food. It looked around, yet there was nothing but rock and dust horizon to horizon. The serpent flicked its tongue towards the dirt, wondering if this was something it could eat. The smell was not appetizing, but the serpent took a mouth full of it anyway. This did little to curb the hunger.

It ate the stone and dirt, trying to fill its empty stomach. As it ate, it grew. It consumed the earth, slithering around, leaving deep grooves in the ground. These grooves would soon become the valleys of our world.

The wings on its back grew with it, giving it the ability of flight. Excited, the serpent took to the skies and touched the clouds. It could watch the sun rise and set from the greatest vantage point. The serpent soared through the sky for days, lopping and swerving in glee. It pierced through the clouds and danced around them.

When it grew tired, the serpent came to rest at the foot of a mountain. Instead of hunger, there was a new pain within its body. It was lonely, for there was no one to share this world with. It had eaten the earth, grown, flown through the skies, seen the beauty, but it was alone. A tear formed in the corner of its eye. It fell to the dirt, splashed upon its surface, and left a speck of mud. The serpent cried and cried, wishing for a friend. From its tears came the rivers flowing through the valleys. They pooled and became our oceans.

The serpent noticed the flowing rivers, but was still alone. It thought for a moment, then pulled a feather from its mane. It breathed its energy into the feather, and from it sprouted a bird! It flapped around the serpent, singing a song of wonder. The serpent was enamored, and wanted more. It pulled a scale, breathed its energy into it, and so gave life to the fish of the ocean. It pulled a fang and gave life to the creatures of land. The water ran through the earth, and beside it grew plants for the animals to feast. The serpent looked on at its new friends.

And if the serpent ever grew lonely it pulled a feather, a scale, or tooth, and made a new being to live alongside it.

And each year, during the festival in spring, just as the snow melts and we see the first breath of life, the tiny buds peeking through the unfreezing earth, we celebrate the serpent and the beauty it gave us. We bring offerings to its descendants to honor their effort and sacrifice, for each scale, feather, and tooth means everything.