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Kids Inspirational Indigenous

When I was young, we told stories around the fire, beneath the sky, seated in the lap of the Earth Mother. The cold wind teased our backs, but the warmth of the embers kissed our noses, and there was nothing else but the fire, and the story. In the darkness of the night, the voices carried a new magic that brought Brodir Bear, and Sastyr Mouse to life.


Brodir Bear was big and strong. Brodir could find the sweetest berries, catch the quickest salmon, and fight the Snow Spirits with his long, dark claws. And when he stood back on his feet, and lifted himself up, there was no other creature in the forest as tall and mighty. But he was not always so clever. That made me like him. I have never trusted something too clever. 


One morning, Brodir rose from the warmth and darkness of his den, and made his way to the forest. The day was sunny, and bright. As he moved to scratch his back against one of the pines, Brodir could hear the Mockingbirds in the branches above him.


“This sun! So bright!”


“Yes, yes, much too bright!”


“I cannot even look into the sky!”


And as he listened, Brodir began to feel a grumble. It started in his stomach, where it always did, and rumbled up through his chest, and all the way to his head, till it rested on his eyes. And the grumble made his eyes squint against the too bright light of the sun, and his lips curled down in a frown.


“Bright,” he growled.


And he left the tree, and continued into the forest. Even if the day was too bright, Brodir was hungry, and still needed food.


Just beyond the thick pines was the river. It swelled with mountain snow, melting in the light of the too bright sun, rushing along the pebbled bank and stirring the micah within the sandy bottom so that each churn and curl of the water glittered. Brodir stepped into the edge of the river, his strong arms holding him steady against the swift current. The water swished and swashed around him as he waded deeper, until his belly touched the stream, and then he began to wait.


If he waited long enough, he knew a fish would happen by. And since Brodir was so quick, he would snatch the fish right out of the stream for his breakfast. As he waited, on the far side of the river, he saw the Racoons crawl out from inside their tree. The cousins came to the edge of the water, and dipped their paws inside.


“Brrrrrr! Too cold!”


“Yes, yes! Much too cold!”


“I cannot even snatch a turtle!”


And as he listened, another grumble came. It started in his stomach, where it always did, and rumbled up through his chest, and then down his shoulders till it stretched all across his spine. And the grumble made Brodir shudder against the chill of the too cold water, and his lips curled down into a frown.


“Cold,” he growled.


And Brodir waded out of the stream without any breakfast, and continued deeper into the forest. Even if the day was too bright, and the river was too cold, there was still the berry grove. He could smell the sweet blackberries there, and lay in the soft grass.


The grove was small, but Brodir didn’t mind. He lumbered his way through the thick leaves of the bushes until he had pushed his way through. The aroma of the sweet grass and the tart berries were a familiar comfort. Brodir rolled onto his back, and stretched out his arms and legs until he was as big as he could be. He inhaled deeply. 


Then, from their burrow in the ground, the Gopher and her daughter popped their heads out. They also took a deep breath.


“Too smelly!”


“Yes, yes, much too smelly!”


“I don’t even want to leave the burrow!”


And as he listened, another grumble came. It started in his stomach, where it always did, and rumbled up through his chest, and into his nose till it formed a disgruntled sneeze. 


“Chooooooooooo!” he growled.


And Brodir sat up. And his eyes squinted against the too bright sun, and his spine shivered at the thought of the too cold river, and his nose wrinkled against the smelly grove, and his lips turned down into the biggest frown yet.


Then, someone new appeared. It was Sastyr Mouse. She was small, and gentle. She could find her way through the dark using only her whiskers, her sharp teeth could chew through even the toughest wood, and her tiny claws could dig deep through even the toughest ground. Sastyr was clever, but not too clever. She was still kind, and did not try to trick her friends. So I liked her too.


Sastyr scampered over to Brodir, and smiled up at him.


“Isn’t it a beautiful day, Brodir?”


“Too bright.”


“Oh. Well. How was your breakfast? Did you catch a nice yummy fish?”


“No fish. River too cold.”


“Oh. Well. At least you came to your favorite grove! Have you been enjoying the grass?”


“Too smelly.”


Sastyr was very confused. This did not sound like the Brodir she knew at all! Brodir loved the warm sunlight. And going to the river to catch his breakfast. And laying in the grove to smell the sweetgrass and the blackberries.


So she asked, “Who says it’s too bright?”


And Brodir paused, and thought for a moment. 


“Mockingbirds.”


“Maybe too bright for them, but they are never happy! It can be sunny, it can be cloudy, it can rain and rain and rain! Doesn’t matter! Not too bright for you!” she inched closer. “Who says it’s too cold?”


“Racoons.”


“Maybe too cold for them. But they have small, naked hands. Look at your thick warm fur! Not too cold for you!” she pointed out. “Who says it’s too smelly?”


“Gophers.”


“Maybe too smelly for them! But you love the smell of the grass!”


Sastyr scurried over to a big, plump blackberry and plucked it from the vine, handing it carefully to Brodir.


“And I know you love this!”


Brodir took the berry. He sniffed it for a moment. It was ripe and juicy, and smelled deliciously tart. He popped the berry into his mouth, and let the fruit roll over his tongue.


And the grumbles that had been sitting on his eyes and back and nose began to fade away.


And he looked up at the gentle sunlight pushing its way through the leaves, warming the cold from his spine. He took another breath, and the smells of the grove were welcoming once again.


“Not too bright,” he said. “Or cold. Or smelly.”


And Sastyr smiled proudly as she curled up on the grass next to him. “Not at all.”


And Brodir smiled back. "Beautiful day."


The night has a way of whispering secrets, wrapped in stories, told around fires beneath star filled skies. Reminding you to be careful whose voices you listen to. Whose magic you allow to be cast over your life. Voices who babble of sunlight that is too bright, and rivers that are too cold, and groves of berries that are too smelly. 


Or the voice within you that is grateful to greet the sun. Wade into the waters. And smell the sweet Earth. 

April 10, 2023 22:30

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25 comments

Ellie Sprietsma
17:22 May 31, 2023

Hi! i was thinking of using this as a part of my school project but i would need to know if its a traditional story or not and where it originated

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20:38 May 31, 2023

Hi Ellie :) This is actually a story that I made up. Part of my heritage is Scandinavian and Native American, so I used words and characters that were similar to the ones I grew up with, but it's my original work. Good luck with your project!

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Nandini Panchal.
11:43 May 02, 2023

Another beautiful story! Your stories are always something I look forward to! It has such a sweet moral, reminding us to always welcome the positivity around us. It's something much needed in today's world. As usual, your words are so descriptive, they just drag me in and I get lost in your stories!!!

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19:12 May 05, 2023

Nandini, my friend :) it's so good to hear from you! I'm glad you enjoyed this one, it was very fun to write and its a very personal message from me. The world around us will often bring us down, but I believe if we focus on the joy inside us, we can be happy! I will be looking for your next piece! <3 thank you for reading and commenting!

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Philippa Hibberd
16:27 Apr 18, 2023

A highly relevant moral for today's world, to not let others' negativity and complaining bring us down. Good job!

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16:36 Apr 18, 2023

Thank you, Philippa! 😊 it’s something I try to remind myself each day!

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Mehkyla Gibson
11:35 Apr 18, 2023

I enjoyed this short story and it has a great moral lesson! I love the relation between the mouse and bear. Great work!

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16:05 Apr 18, 2023

Hi Mehkyla 😊 I’m glad you enjoyed it, I decided to write something really different this time. Bear and Mouse is one of my favorite story friendships 😁 Thank you for reading and commenting, I will be sure to look for your work as well!

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Michał Przywara
20:37 Apr 14, 2023

It's an enjoyable story, definitely fit for a younger audience, and the moral is both important but also delivered well. It fits the story smoothly, and doesn't come down heavy handed. It's also a particularly important lesson given our increaisngly interconnected world - and not just for kids. It's very easy to get swept up by hype or opinion when it seems ubiquitous, but that doesn't always serve us, does it? Beyond that, I'm digging the names Brodir and Sastyr :) Something about them just fits. Very fun, and a fitting fable :)

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00:23 Apr 16, 2023

Michal! it's good to hear from you :) I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I often have to remind myself of this "lesson". Like you said, it's easy to get pulled into the "hive mind" sometimes. But like you said, it doesn't always serve us! Thank you! The terms are Scandinavian for "Brother" and "Sister", which describes the sort of relationshio I see between Bear and Mouse (even though they are very different animals) Thank you for reading and commenting! <3

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Irene Duchess
02:06 Apr 14, 2023

A very good fable, Hannah. ‘Reminding you to be careful whose voices you listen too. Whose magic you allow to be cast over your life’—a good moral. :D

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12:32 Apr 14, 2023

Lilah :) thank you for reading, and for your comment! I'm glad that you enjoyed my little fable, I will be sure to look for you work as well! <3

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Irene Duchess
22:26 Apr 14, 2023

Thanks! :)

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Rebecca Miles
20:29 Apr 13, 2023

A lovely pairing of opposites in this friendship which the target audience would understand. It follows a classic childhood trope of the small guy/ underdog imparting the best advice/ saving the day. I used to read The Gruffalo to all my kids and your mouse reminded me of that infamous one taking a stroll and encountering the, till then, fabricated Gruffalo. This has a sweet subtext of celebrating nature and trusting in what you like over and above the peer group, which is right for the readership too. Lovely kid- orientated tale.

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12:31 Apr 14, 2023

Thank you, Rebecca! :) I am so glad that you enjoyed the story! I have a soft spot for "tiny but mighty" characters, so this was my chance to make my own brave little guy! Thank you for the feedback, I will be sure to go look for some of your work as well! <3

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Rebecca Miles
15:49 Apr 14, 2023

Thanks!

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Mary Bendickson
14:28 Apr 13, 2023

Weaving well done.

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Aeris Walker
00:56 Apr 13, 2023

Both the structure and message of this story would make a perfect children’s book. With the beautiful setting and the cast of characters: the negative bird and raccoon, a grumpy bear, and an optimistic mouse; kids would just love this. (I did too!) You should consider illustrating it! Favorite lines: “It swelled with mountain snow, melting in the light of the too bright sun, rushing along the pebbled bank and stirring the micah within the sandy bottom so that each churn and curl of the water glittered.” Nailed the style of a fable, and it w...

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14:26 Apr 13, 2023

Thank you, Aeris! :) I had been talking with my bestie about the water in mountain streams, it totally inspired that line (which I also ended up loving) I appreciate your comments! Maybe I will give illustrating it a try!

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Russell Mickler
03:09 Apr 12, 2023

Hey there, Hannah - Good voice on this one … I really liked the contrast of the bear and mouse as characters. I can definitely imagine this story illustrated. It definitely carries a great moral and had a fable tone to it, with characters that sound like they’re from actual mythology … Nicely done :) R

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18:42 Apr 12, 2023

Hey Russell 😊 this one was different for me to write, but I ended up having a lot of fun! Thank you for reading and commenting! ❤️

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Colin Strivelli
02:28 Apr 11, 2023

Aye, a fun little fable. You absolutely captured the prose and language of one. I forgot at times I was even reading something from you because I was just engrossed in the narrative you presented. Very relatable [and adorable] message. Strong chatacterization, and an all around strong solid message. Well done!

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11:50 Apr 11, 2023

BEAN!! Thank you so much for reading! (You know I value your opinion on this sort of writing MOST HIGHLY!) I’m glad you were able to “forget” it was me, that’s even more validating 😆 You should jump in on this prompt! It was made for you!

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Michelle Oliver
00:17 Apr 11, 2023

What a beautiful fable. I love the voice you use, it draws us in. The asides about the bear and mouse not being too clever, so you like them, helps us to like the characters too. Your language choices are so lyrical and well suited to this kind of story. -but the warmth of the embers kissed our noses. -The night has a way of whispering secrets, wrapped in stories. A lovely tale with gently executed moral.

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01:08 Apr 11, 2023

Thank you, Michelle! This was VERY different for me, and I was a little nervous, but your words are very reassuring 🙂 Sometimes I am like Brodir and the voices around me can begin to affect my mood. But I try to be me own Sastyr too, and remember all the little things in life I love. I will be sure to check for your new work as well! Thank you again for reading and commenting! ❤️

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