Many, many years ago, when the planets were still young, First Girl looked up into the sky. It was the first night after the stars were made, and she saw one among them called Brightest Star. She swore by all earthly things - by the trees, the streams, the caves - that she would make Brightest Star her husband.
Night after night she went up into the foothills and called to Brightest Star - but the distance was too great, and her voice seemed very small in that huge place. One night, after weeks of frustration, she sat on a hilltop and sobbed and sobbed. She thought she would never be able to reach her love. Then a voice called down to her from the treetops above. It said, “First Girl, why are you crying so?”
The girl answered, “Because I love Brightest Star, but he does not even notice me. I must be just a speck to him if he can even see me at all. What will I ever do?” "I have an idea,” said Porcupine, for that's who had spoken. “Come up here, and I will show you.”
"Oh, thank you! Thank you!” First Girl called as she began to climb the tree from whence the voice had come. But, by the time she reached the place where Porcupine had been, the creature had scurried even farther up the tree. First Girl only climbed faster, trying to reach higher and still higher branches. But, each time she reached the point where Porcupine had been, she found that the creature had scurried even higher. Still, First Girl did not give up hope. Onward she climbed. She never thought to look down until she saw the first light of the sun creeping over the horizon, making the sky pale. When she did look down, she almost fell. She had been climbing most of the night, and now she realized that Porcupine was nowhere to be seen. She was impossibly high up the tree, so that the planet rested miles and miles beneath her feet. So great was her fear that she almost let go.
But someone she couldn’t see caught her by the arm before she could plummet to her death. She gasped, asking who was there.
"I am called Brightest Star,” came a young man's voice.
“I have been trying to catch your attention for many weeks,” First Girl breathed. “I can see you every night from the land far below us.”
"I am so glad you found your way to me,” Brightest Star said softly. “You are beautiful, and your soul shines as brightly as my body. Will you become my bride?”
First Girl assented almost immediately. For many more weeks, until the end of spring that year, they were happy together. First Girl got used to Brightest Star’s shining palace in the sky, but many of the other stars were jealous. They would come to First Girl’s window at night, when her husband was away, and whisper to her. “How can he love you when he won't even show himself to you?” they would ask. “Would not a husband who truly loved you reveal himself to you - especially when he shines so brightly in the night sky?” First Girl didn’t know it, but Brightest Star's mother - a jealous star called Venus - was sending the other stars to her window each night. Venus seethed with hatred for her new daughter-in-law, mostly because Brightest Star hadn't thought to ask her permission or her blessing when he'd taken his bride.
Finally, one night when summer was almost upon the planet below, First Girl stood at the great palace door, knowing that it was the exit Brightest Star used each night. It wasn't long until she felt him trying to squeeze past her, but he remained invisible, as he did whenever he entered or left his home. She could only feel him; she couldn’t see him at all.
"Show yourself to me, my husband,” First Girl pleaded. "You know how I love to look upon you, but I have never seen you close up. Or have you lost your love for me?”
"Never will I stop loving you,” Brightest Star insisted. “I will show you,” he said. So he let his full light shine in order that she might see him. But the light was too great for First Girl. She screamed, holding her hands before her eyes. But they were not enough; still the light shone through to her eyes. Unable to stand the brightness, she leapt from a window of the palace and fell down, down, down to the earth below.
First Girl landed in a sandy place. She was blind, and she did not recognize the place where she had fallen. Soon her fingers were bleeding, for the only plants there seemed to be spiked with sharp spines. Yet she had to break pieces from them, for they held the only water to be found.
Months passed, and soon it was near the end of winter. First Girl, who had been growing bigger and bigger despite the scarcity of food, gave birth to two babies. One night, as she sat feeling the breeze change from freezing to merely cool, she was startled by the feel of a hand on her shoulder.
"Who's there?” she gasped, starting up. She hugged her babies to her breast, terrified for them.
"Is that you, my love?” came a voice she recognized at once as her husband's.
"Brightest Star? Is that you, my love?” she whispered. “I thought you had given up on me.”
"I am your husband,” he said softly. “But I am no longer called Brightest Star. My mother told me about the stars she sent to you at the shining palace - but she has beheld your love even in suffering, and she wishes to make amends.” With these words, he pressed something to First Girl’s eyes. Something mostly liquid... ointment. In moments, she could see again. The first thing she beheld was her husband, for he did not shine as brightly as before.
"Will you love me now?” he sobbed miserably. “Now I am called Dim Star. I gave away much of my light so that I could come to this place to look for you.”
"Oh, yes, my love! I will always love you,” the girl answered without hesitation. It was true - her lover wasn't as bright as he had been before, but she still thought him beautiful. She looked down at the babes in her arms. To her surprise, she found that one was a little girl with skin as white as fresh milk. The other was a boy with skin as dark as the night sky. She called one Yin and the other Yang, but they are sometimes known as First Daughter and First Son.
First Girl and Dim Star now made their way back into the sky. Now that she could see, First Girl was able to find the tree she'd climbed the year before. Soon, they were back at the palace. All the stars came to celebrate, even Venus. The stars to whom Dim Star had given his light now gave it back - to his wife. And, although they would never be the brightest in the sky, they lived out the rest of their days as a pair of stars. When their children grew up, they went back down to the earth to live. But, each night, parents and children would look across the distance and greet each other. And this is why the spaces below our feet and the places above our heads are forever connected.