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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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A fictional account of an Inuit girl's disobedience.

I think about what it was like Before.  Before the change.  Before the accident, when I was normal...

I had been told.  Warned and scolded by my parents and other adults not to do what I had done.  If only I had listened to their counsel!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me take you back...

My name is Atakutaluk Koyukuk.  I am an Inuit woman who has a story to tell.  Hopefully those who hear it will listen to me and not repeat the same mistake I did.

I grew up in far northern Alaska in a tiny Inuit community, a village, really.  Life was difficult, but we are a hardy people used to hardship.

An only child due to the complicated and arduous pregnancy Mother had, I was thoroughly spoiled by everyone in the village.  Although my parents had wished for a son to carry on the family name and hunt for them when they grew too old, they were not disappointed, and I did not want for love.  I was pampered and thrived under the loving care of my parents and the other adults in the village.

As were all children, I was told not to anger the Spirits of the Night Rainbow (the Northern Lights) that occasionally played in the skies.  The Spirits were those of our People who had died, and deserved the ultimate respect.  We were instructed never to laugh or shout at Them, only to talk to Them in a soft whisper.  If we disobeyed, we would become paralyzed.  And we were never, under any circumstance, EVER to whistle at Them or They would come down and chop off our heads or carry us away, never to be seen or heard from again.  We were to always wear our hats when They danced or They would cut off our hair--or worse!

My beloved Grandparents had died last year and I missed them terribly.  I thought about them frequently, and the more I thought about them, the sadder I got.  I desperately wanted to see them again, and would go out on late evenings after finishing my chores and wait for the appearance of the Spirits on clear nights, hoping to catch a glimpse of my Grandparents.

One evening, I decided I had to talk to them; I had been scolded for something--I can't remember for what now.  Shunning my chores, I went outside and looked up--there They were, the Spirits, the Aurora Borealis, the Qiugyat--the Northern Lights.  They were especially beautiful that night.  Brilliant bands of Light in happy shades of green, white and pink played a game amid the stars.  I waved at Them--no taboo against that--and They waved back; They were in a friendly mood.  I asked quietly if my Grandparents were up there, and if They minded if I danced for them.  I had been practicing extra hard.  They did not show displeasure by turning red.  A red aurora is a warning of bad things to come.

I watched the pulsating bands to get an idea of Their rhythm, then closed my eyes and began humming softly in my throat, hoping my Grandparents could see how well I was learning my dance steps.  I let Their rhythm be my guide.  Knowing my Grandparents were watching, I felt incredibly free and sudden joy welled within my heart.

I laughed.

I knew.  I knew!  Despite all the scoldings, despite all of the warnings, I knew better, I knew I shouldn't...but I couldn't help it.

Suddenly there was a shocking sensation and then numbness.  Terrified, I opened my eyes to see the Spirits were clearly offended; They were a violent shade of deep purply-red.  I had never seen Them so angry.  My Grandparents were there, looking down at me with shame in their eyes.  They could not help.  I had disobeyed the Law of the Spirits and must pay the price.

Collapsing onto the snow covered ground, I tried to move but was completely and totally paralyzed.  I could breathe, thanks to the mercy of the Spirits, but that was it.

I don't know how long I lay there--it could have been hours.  I called and called for help.  No answer.  Would I be found dead in the morning or would I be a meal for Nanuq, the most feared predator of the Arctic?  Would I even BE found?  However, Father, upon discovering my chores had not been done, was looking for me.  And Father was furious.  I could tell by the anger in his voice as he searched.

"Atakutaluk!  Where are you?  You are supposed to be doing your chores.  You are in trouble if you don't answer--ANSWER ME!   ATAKUTALUK!"

I tried to yell, finally managed a weak reply.  Somehow, Father heard and ran to my side.  I could see that he was mad.  That was lying, unmoving.  Panic crept into his voice when he asked me what happened.

"I disobeyed you, Father.  I didn't do my chores, and I did a bad thing.  I laughed at the Night Rainbow."  (Here, Father inhaled with a sharp gasp and exhaled an almost silent, "Oh, noooo...".)  I said, "I didn't mean to, I saw my Grandparents among the Spirits, and they were watching me, and I was showing Them how well I was learning to dance, and I couldn't help myself.  It just came out.  I laughed and now I can't move."

Father shouted for several men in the village to bring the dogsled and heavy blankets and food for a journey.  We had to get to a hospital if I were to have any chance.

Where we live is far in the country.  The nearest big town was many miles away, and it would be a long and difficult trip at best.  Fortunately, conditions were clear.  Father and his friends tenderly laid me on the dogsled and wrapped the blankets around my freezing body and off we went.

I was afraid to look up at the sky, but I had to know.  The Rainbow wasn't as angry as before, but a definite red tinged the Spirits.  The eyes of my Grandparents were especially disappointed.  I silently begged forgiveness, but I knew deep in my heart that I would never walk again.  I would be forever paralyzed for disobeying the Spirits and my parents.

Arriving at the hospital hours later, I was nearly frozen; I almost died.  The doctors battled for my life, and I survived.  When asked what had happened to me, they scoffed; they didn't believe in the Legends of the Lights.  They said I was faking.

But I know better.

I still am paralyzed, many years later.  I tell this story so that no one else will end up like I did.  I can't change what happened, however, perhaps someone will learn a lesson from my experience.

(C) Copy written, 2004, by Karla Dorman.

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Reviewed by Sheila Roy 11/19/2010
This is an awesome story. Forgive me, but I think you're even better at story writing than you are at poetry...and that's saying something cuz you can spin poems:) I'd love to see more stories from you in the future. Love and Hugs,
Reviewed by 000 000 1/14/2009
WOW OH WOW!!! Karla, your mind is traveling into the sky! This is a most beautiful writing of beliefs and traditions passed from generations. I almost believe it, even though you state is as fictional. This is different in your style of writing...and is one of the best of yours...please continue to write more of these! AMazing! Definently a keeper
Love and sunshine, CarolHawks
Reviewed by Marie Wadsworth 12/28/2008
Bravo! Captivating tale. I loved it! Excellent. You should get this one published. This is one of those that all will love. WOW!! SUPERB!
Reviewed by Diana Wiles 3/11/2008
The power of the mind/body connection! This was a wonderful story, and the colours whilst reading 'lifted' me.
We can take from this what we it the strong power of association of a child who becomes paralysed at the same time as 'disobeying'...or something much deeper within the human psyche?This was a story to be interpreted on many levels. Excellent! Love, Diana.
Reviewed by Trevor Penick 1/24/2008
Fantastic! I enjoyed this very much.
Reviewed by Mary Coe 9/19/2007
An amazing write. very interesting story. Well written.
Reviewed by Szecindyo Chewandi 4/21/2007
At the first glance of the length of the story, I was not that interested to read. Yet, when I commenced on reading, I was really enthralled by your story. A refreshing and motivational one.
I really like your story.^_^
Wish I could write as well as you.
Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson 4/4/2007
A good story which held my attention......M
Reviewed by Edgar Blythe 5/8/2006
Nicely written. I like this story.
Reviewed by White Dove left 9/26/2005
As always, your talents are wonderful...
Lynn Richardson
Reviewed by Joe Fleckenstein 8/5/2005
What a neat story about a physical disability, with some native Alaskan/American type lore included. It was kinda inspirational. Good job. --Joe :-)

Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore 1/7/2005
Very graphic story, karla, i love this one. i could see everything very clearly, your signature style was recognizable in the exuberance of the tale-telling, and i can see why you found this story necessary to write!
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 12/1/2004

The beautiful picture wets the palette of what is to follow - an extraordinarily crafted literary work - exceptional!!

Your friend,

Reviewed by Hasan Abood 4/28/2004
Wow! I love this! You are a great writer! Whoa! It's soo god!
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 4/6/2004
This is an amazing story, keep it up...
God BLess
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 4/6/2004
Loved this story, Karla. I, too, love Native American lores and legends. Well done!
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 4/5/2004

Wow, this story had me hooked from start to finish! What a compelling and interesting read; loved learning of the Inuit beliefs and legends in this story! Enjoyed so much; thanks so much for sharing!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your twin, Karen Lynn. :D

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