Writing Prompt via Today’s Author

She stood at the funeral pyre – back so straight she could feel her hips beginning to ache. The fire was warm on her face and bare arms. Tears were silently streaming down her cheeks, puddling underneath her chin where the high collar of her dress stopped. The physical pain of her loss was rippling across her body, making her shoulders shake with grief. Not a sound passed her lips though.

She stood fascinated by each flicker of the flames before her. They drew her attention hypnotically and found the beauty in their heat. They were consuming the last physical evidence of her twin sister and yet they were beautiful. The sparkling blues and white near the base were like flattened stars burning before her. The orange and red little fingers reaching for the sky. The thick smoke swirled lazily towards the heavens, ignorant of the fury of the fire below.

As she continued to cry she found herself getting lost in the flames. She was swaying slightly to their flickering rhythm, slowly back and forth, her back still ramrod straight. This was her sister’s funeral pyre yet in its sadness she knew that it was exquisite. The flames were returning her sister to ash, to where she had come from. As they flickered upwards to the heavens her sister’s soul was floated back to the Cycle. Where she would be reborn and once more rise from the ashes.

The flames brought her sister to life and they carried her after her death to return her to life. That was the way of their people, the way it had been for centuries and the way it would be for all time. These flames were the symbol of her people. There was a long-held prophecy that one day a soul would enter the flames but never return to the Cycle – they would just be reborn right there in the flames. The Prophecy of the Phoenix. Each funeral held the hope that this lost soul would be the Phoenix.

The red and orange flames were dimming, leaving the blue and white to burn at strength. Heat blasted her skin forcing her to turn away from the flames for a moment in shock. When her eyes reopened as she turned back her tears immediately stopped. The flames had spontaneously risen higher, all blue and warped. She was certain within those great flames she saw movement. It wasn’t the same sporadic movement of fire but deliberate and exacting. She reached towards the flames, ignoring the heat as it scalded her bare skin.

A dark figure was stepping down from the pyre, engulfed in the hottest of white flames. The fire flickered around the head of the figure, forming long swirling curls that moved as if caught in a breeze. The figure came down and forward forcing her to step back lest she be burnt. The flames stayed on the pyre, dancing back off the figure revealing the face and naked body of her sister. Her sister was smiling back at her, arms reaching out as if she hadn’t just walked from her own funeral pyre.

The Phoenix had risen from its ashes. The Phoenix was no longer myth and prophecy. The Phoenix was real.

The Phoenix was her sister.