The genre choices for February were myth or poetry, and unless I miscounted, there were 21 entries. Whimsicality was the winner by popular vote, with this entry.
Word Count: 886
Summary: An English assignment we had to do: create a myth on a natural phenomenon.
How The Ocean Got Its Tides
Once upon a time, not too long ago, there lived a man named Mateo. Mateo was of such stupendous size that a baby could easily fit in one of his hands. He was over seven feet tall with muscles that were the size of melons. Every day, Mateo would demonstrate his strength to all of the townspeople by lifting up a cart several times in a row as if it were no more than a pail of water, or juggling watermelons as if they weighed no more than rubber balls. All of the people in his village were terrified of him. As he made his rounds in the town square, people would whisper and point, “There goes Mateo, the strongest man alive. You wouldn’t want to get him angry!”
Unfortunately, Mateo did get angry. Quite a bit. Especially after several mugs at the local tavern. In these drunken fits, he had twice his usual strength. Mateo could crush a man’s head with one hand. He could throw chairs and tables and people across the whole length of the tavern as easily as you or I would throw a book. Needless to say, eventually nobody went to the tavern with Mateo around anymore. Nobody could stand his terrifying fits of rage.
When Mateo was drunk, not only did he get angry, but he bragged as well. That man could brag all day long and twice as much when he was drunk.
“I fought five mountain bears with my bare hands and won.” “And nobody would say he was lying for fear of his strength. “I climbed Mount Gigantus and wrestled with the god of strength, Higor, himself.”
“Did you win?” somebody brave would ask, timidly though with a trace of sarcasm in their voice. Mateo would scowl. “Of course I did, you fool! I always win. I am the strongest man on earth and in heaven.”
One day Higor, the great god of strength, looked down from Mount Gigantus and grew very angry with Mateo for his lies and his boasts. “I will go down there,” he thought angrily, “and teach that impertinent idiot a lesson. Nobody fools with the god of Strength!” So Higor disguised himself as an old peddler and went down the mountain to Mateo’s village.
Mateo was just coming out of the tavern when an old peddler went up to him, lugging an ancient wooden cart filled with small trinkets and toys. “Pretty things for sale! Pretty things for sale!” he cried out in a wheezing voice.
“Get out of my way, you doddering old man! I have thirty times your strength and I can crush you with one hand. I kill mountain bears with my bare—“
“Are you that Mateo of which everyone talks about and who claims that he defeated the great god Higor in a wrestling match?” the old man asked cunningly.
Mateo puffed out his chest with pride. “It is I,” he said. “Now get out of my way before I make you, you fool!”
The peddler stood still with his grey eyes twinkling. It struck Mateo, in the corner of his mind, that those eyes were strangely young for one so old. “Would you mind wrestling me, if you please, young man?”
Mateo laughed. “Wrestle you! Wrestle a man who is old enough to be my grandfather! Come now, old fool, this is no time for your senile antics. Get out of my way.”
In answer the old man lunged for Mateo’s waist and lifted him, yelling in shock and confusion, clear off the floor. What followed was a wrestling match such as the type nobody in that little village would ever forget. Mateo and the old man fought tooth and nail for three hours straight, by which the two of them were drenched in sweat. The peddler pushed Mateo away and grinned wearily. However, when he spoke, it was a deep, young, resonating sound, not at all the voice of an old peddler.
“Mateo, you truly are the strongest man in the world. Even I in my human form struggle to beat you. But your boasts, lies, and drunken fits have not gone unnoticed, and I will punish you accordingly.” As he spoke he shimmered and grew, changing into his true and godly form. Mateo cowered upon the street, in front of the whole crowd of villagers who were watching. Higor smiled again as he spoke. “However, you have demonstrated great strength. Exceptional strength. So instead of killing you outright, I will give you a less harsh punishment. Every day, you will pull the ocean from its place, letting it expand a few feet before its greater force pulls against you.” Mateo stood, trembling with exhaustion and fear. “Tug-of-war with the sea? Impossible! Even I would die from the strain.”
Higor shook his head. “I will grant you immortality. But this will be both a blessing and a curse, as you will spend all your days fighting against the ocean’s current. This, I think, is an appropriate punishment for one who deemed himself the strongest being on heaven and earth, is it not?”
And that is why, till this day, the ocean has its tide, which ebbs and flows because of Mateo, who pulls and struggles against the most powerful force of nature known to man.