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Elizabeth Emanuel, 27 Jul '12

I’ll never forget the day I met the phoenix.

I remember I was wearing a red shirt, because it clashed badly with the bird’s fancy plumage, and I also remember that I was taking my daily jog through the woods. Now, I knew these woods better than probably anyone else: when I was a kid, I would always play hide-and-seek there with my friends; as I progressed into my teen years, I used this place as a study area; and now it was the sanctuary for my morning run ritual.

Everything always went the same way: I’d wake up at seven, start jogging at seven-thirty, then finished around eight. No one else regularly passed through this trail, at least in the mornings, so my thoughts weren’t bothered.

But this day, yes, this certain day, was different. I had been running for about ten minutes already when I heard a crashing noise up ahead. I picked up my pace to a sprint, and soon came to what seemed to be an orange and red oversized chicken, except that parts of its plumage -- not to mention the leaves around it -- were smoldering.

I had no idea what to do.

“ ‘Ello!” the bird squawked in a slightly English accent, seeming to be in a bad mood.

“Er...hi?” I replied, not sure of what to make of it. In my defense, it’s not every day you see a talking half-roasted fowl.

“What is it?” it asked, seeing my confusion. “Are any of my feathers on fire? Oh dear, that is always so embarrassing,” he added, turning around to make sure nothing was flaming.

“Um, aren’t you just, like, a bird?” I raised my eyebrows.

If birds have eyebrows, which they don’t, it was this one’s round to return the act. “Just a bird? Just a bird? Why, I’m not just some moronic turkey or conceited peacock, I am a phoenix!” it exclaimed, feathers ruffling.

“Oh, sorry...Miss Phoenix, “ I grimaced; the bird was thoroughly offended.

“Mr. Phoenix, to you, kid. Goodness, what do they teach children these days! It’s basic common sense.” The apparent “Mr. Phoenix” shook its head and sighed.

“Sorry!” I squeaked, but I was annoyed that he called me a kid, not once, but twice. “But hey, I’m not a kid, I turn eighteen next month.”

“Hmph,” the phoenix sighed sharply. “And I turn 3,792 next month, so there.” I widened my eyes. “And that doesn’t even count my cycles of rebirth,” he puffed out his chest, obviously proud of his old age.

“Rebirth?” I echoed, trailing off.

The phoenix gave me another what-do-they-teach-kids-these-days look again, then answered, “Don’t you know about the immortal phoenixes? Every time we die, we are immediately born again.’

I nodded in recognition. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard about that...” In truth, I had, but only in fairytales and other fictional stories, and even then, the phoenixes were described as wise, elegant creatures and non pompous and annoying like this one apparently was.

“On the contrary, it’s an absolute drag! I live a long life, and finally, just when I just seem to acquire a fine reputation, I die and go off to get reborn again and then I have to start all over! Not only that, but I can’t ever remember anything from my past lives, except for an ever-present feeling of deja-vu!”

While the phoenix was getting all worked up, I remember the reason why I found it after I recover from the bombardment of exclamation points. “Well anyway, are you okay? You kinda crashed earlier...”

He pursed his beaks together as best as a bird can do, then sniffed, hurt that I had interrupted his outburst. “I’m fine. I just wanted to vent my feelings to someone, but obviously you don’t care! I remember the days when humans venerated us...”

“No! I do,” I quickly lied, not wanting another hissy fit. “...I’m on a tight time schedule. Well, it was nice meeting you, bye!” I added, then quickly walked away with a couple sideways glances, relieved that I had finally got away.

I half-expected the phoenix to say goodbye or something, but before he could, I heard a loud “pop!” and turned around; where he had laid was a small fire. I ran back to him, worried that I somehow had caused this by angering and upsetting him.

“Are you okay‽” I asked, my eyes opening even wider than before. Inside the flame, however, was not the same bird. Instead it was a younger, baby version of him.

“ ‘Elllo!” the bird replied, using a tone with both an innocent and childlike quality.

Mr. Phoenix was reborn.

Comments · 1

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Welcome to Burrst Elizabeth - Very enjoyable debut, I look forward to more :)

    • Posted 7 years ago