The story below is a winner from our Fiction Fantastic Young Writers Contest, open to all youth in Lane County. For more information on this contest, including how to enter, visit here. Support this program with a donation.
You can purchase this story in the 2021 Winners Anthology, A New Story Rises here.
“Why the Ocean is Salty” by Samma Ayala TEACH Northwest
Second Place, Elementary Level, 2021
Why the Ocean Is Salty
By Samma Ayala
Once all the water on earth was fresh. The people and animals could drink from it. But then a naughty kid did something wrong. This is how it happened a long time ago.
One day the people were gathering to celebrate and give thanks for fresh water. All the people were given one cup of spring water that they gathered themselves in clay pottery cups from a nearby spring. This spring is located in present-day Idaho and is now called Soda Springs. The naturally-carbonated water was for sipping while they sat, and each person gave their water gratitude speech. The naughty boy came reluctantly, he did not want to take the time to be thankful.
The day that I am telling you about was a particularly hot summer day, in early August, and sitting by the fire made it even hotter. The naughty kid was not thinking about what he should say when it was his turn to say his thank you speech. All he wanted was a nice, cool, bubbly drink. And because everybody was doing the right thing by focusing on the celebratory speech that the person in the middle of the circle was giving, he being the only exception, the naughty boy was able to sneak one big gulp of his cousin’s carbonated spring water, then another gigantic gulp, then another. Then to his great horror and surprise he noticed that the cup was empty!
He had drunk all of his cousin’s water! The naughty boy’s cousin, whose name was Thunder, was also his friend and would likely be upset at him. Not only that, but Thunder was the kind of kid who tells everything to his mom. He would probably tell his mother as soon as he found out that his water was not in his cup, but gone.
The naughty boy not only got in trouble with his mom, dad, and aunt, but something bigger was also angry with the humans for not being grateful and being greedy. The spirits were upset with the naughty boy! Most of the spirits were understanding and held their tempers. But the storm spirit was not willing to let this pass.
The spirit of storms sent a gigantic hailstorm of salt down on Earth! All the water became salty after that. The plants started wilting fast, the people and animals could not drink fresh water, (and you need fresh water to live). It was a hard time for the people and the poor plants and animals.
After about two days, when everybody was trying really hard to find a solution for their situation, something amazing happened. The naughty boy (for what may have been the first time in his life), felt sorry for his people and all the animals and plants. He felt sorry that his actions had caused the wrath of the storm spirit that was now causing every living creature to suffer and soon die.
What happened next may surprise you, the naughty kid said out loud that he was sorry! And he also said that he was thankful for the clean water. Here is the most amazing part: soon after the naughty boy apologized, the water from the ground became fresh and the plants started to look healthy again. The people and animals, once again, were able to drink from the spring.
Now if the boy had just said he was sorry and did not change his actions toward the water,
nothing would have changed. But I am glad to say he did change his actions, and now every water celebration day he is so very thankful for fresh water. What he never found out was that the peoples on the coast were never again able to drink out of the sea. The spirits left the ocean and some other bodies of water salty to remind us to take care of our beautiful Mother Earth and to be thankful.
And now you know why, to this day, the ocean and some other bodies of water are salty.