Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
How the Fishies Lost their Eyelids
In the days when the grass was greener, the hills were less steep and berries were on every bush the fishies had eyelids. This made it easy for them to sleep at night. The only problem with this was that while the fishies slept they were easy prey for a Monster that lived in a Cave by their Stream. As they slept peacefully this Monster would creep up on them in the stream snatching them up and eating them whole. The fishies tried to post guards but they too fell asleep. After this had been going on for quite a while the fishies decided that they should ask the Creator to do something. They all met and decided that the oldest among them would go before the Creator and petition her to do something.
The fishies traveled for a long time and a great distance in order to reach the place where the Creator lived. The Creator rested on a mountaintop before them with his chin resting on his fist gazing off into the distance. The oldest fishies made their petition. It looked to them as though she was very intent on what they were saying. Truth be told the Creator was lost in thought about some truly weighty matters only he could solve and was actually only listening with half an ear. "Please, Creator," they burbled, "You must do something about the Monster in the Cave before it eats us all!" The Creator shook herself and looked down at the fishies. "Monster? Certainly, certainly," muttered the Creator waving her hand in the fishies direction. "Something should be done." The foolish fishies, taking this as a guarantee swam home to the Stream. Great was the rejoicing in the Stream when the news was spread. All the fish decided to sleep that night safe in the guarantee of the Creator doing something about the Monster in the Cave. Great was the gorging that night as the Monster in the Cave fed well on the sleeping fishies. The next day, despair! More fishies than ever were gone.
The fishies swam about in circles, hither and thither crying out in their grief. "Oh, woe is us. The Creator promised he would do something but nothing was done! What are we to do?" All this wailing and gnashing of fishy teeth was heard by Squirrel the Trickster who came to investigate. "What's wrong friend fishies?", asked Squirrel. "Oh, alas and alack, Friend Squirrel," said the fishies, "The Monster in the Cave comes at night while we sleep and eats us! The Creator said she would do something but she hasn't." "Oh, that's not true", lied Squirrel, "The Creator sent me to help you." "Will you get rid of the Monster in the Cave?" asked the excited fishies? "Oh nothing like that", said Squirrel shuddering inside at the thought of bearding the Monster in the Cave in its Cave. "No I have a better idea," said Squirrel. "Unfortunately you all know that the Creator demands that we get rewarded for our ideas don't you?" The fishies had not heard this before but they believed every word that Squirrel told them. "What can we reward you with?" asked the fishies. "Well, it's nothing much but I'd like all the little yellow pebbles there are at the bottom of your Stream". The fishies did not value these at all so they quickly gathered them all and piled them up before Squirrel. Squirrel's eyes widened in greed at all the gold and amber before saying, "The problem, as I see it is that while you are sleeping with your eyes closed Monster sneaks up on you, catches you and eats you." "AS I see it what you need to do is to learn to sleep with your eyes open." Squirrel quickly showed them how this feat was to be accomplished. All they had to do he said was to keep their eyelids open.
This idea excited the fishies who loudly announced that they would do this starting that very night. Profusely thanking Squirrel for his help they settled down to sleep with their eyes open. Well, they had no end of trouble trying to sleep with their eyes open. Try as they might not one of them could keep their eyes open all night. Sooner or later their eyelids would begin to droop and before they knew it they were asleep. Not one of them managed to stay asleep all night with its eyes open. Fortunately the Monster who lives in the Cave had eaten so many of their number the previous night that it wasn't hungry so none of them were eaten that night. Because they had all survived the night they assumed that Squirrel's advice had saved them. They were so excited by their apparent success that they loudly proclaimed to all and sundry how great their friend Squirrel was. Their joy ended the following morning when they realized that the Monster who lives in the Cave had once again eaten his fill of them.
"Why oh great, wise Squirrel did your plan not work?", wailed the fishies the next morning. "Why should we suffer like this?", they pleaded. Squirrel, looking down at them from a branch over-hanging the Stream replied, "It seems to me that you are just too dumb to sleep with your eyes open." "What are we to do then?", they begged. "I have another plan for letting you sleep with your eyes open but you must trust me." "Oh we trust you, we trust you, friend Squirrel what are we to do?" "What I am going to do is going to hurt a bit but in the long run I know there will be benefits." "But we have no manner in which to pay you for your idea friend Squirrel. No more of the yellow pebbles" "Don't worry about payment friend fishies, " Squirrel replied. "Sometimes a good deed is its own reward. You fishies must line up over there along the bank and I will help you to sleep with your eyes open. As I mentioned before it will hurt a little but in the long run it will be worth it."
So the fishies did as Squirrel asked them and lined up along the Stream bank. As Squirrel walked along the bank passing from one fishy to another he cut their eyelids off with a sharp rock, gathering the eyelids in a skin bag at his side. The fishies wailed and complained when they realized what Squirrel had done. "What have you done to us you monster!", they complained. "Ingrates," replied Squirrel, "Now you will be able to sleep with your eyes open all night long without having to worry about them closing." The fishies grumbled and spat curses at Squirrel but were forced to flee underwater because the sun hurt their unprotected eyes terribly. Sure enough though, that night the fishies saw the Monster who lives in the Cave before he had reached the Stream, even though they were all asleep at the time! This gave them the warning they needed to swim away from the Monster and all of them survived the night. This made the fishies so happy that they immediately swam to where Squirrel sunned himself on a branch over the Stream. "Squirrel, how can we ever thank you for your help?", they shouted. "Oh, no need to thank me," Squirrel replied, resting on his shiny new rain cape made from fishy eyelids counting his yellow pebbles, "A good deed is its own reward."
Last updated September 26, 2016
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