Who am I?
I think, staring at the pearl-white waves of the emerald ocean. I do not know. Some say I am a Phoenix. A Phoenix, like any other ones, who rose from ashes.
When two Phoenixes fall in love, one of their hearts (Phoenixes have seven hearts in total) burn so badly that they become ashes. When the two ashes meet together, a fire rises and it becomes a newborn Phoenix.
Some fires are too tiny and weak that the wind blows them away before they can begin their life. The ashes, then are buried to the ocean.
My fire wasn't carried away by wind, but my flame was nothing more than a fragile flicker. Probably because my ashes were wet when I was born. I was told from one of my neighbors that my mom fell in love with my daddy by the dazzling seashore. I have no means to blame my mom and dad, but I wish I had not earned the title of the weakest and lamest phoenix right from the beginning of my first life.
I stare at the waves bubbling and foaming toward me. They stretch their white fingernails to the shore and scrape the sands away from it. Did some of my ashes disappear to the ocean that way, too?
"Boy, come back here! What on earth are you doing on the shoreline?"
Phoenixes dread waters. They say it’s as bad as tears.
"No worries, Dad, I'll have my second birth few weeks later."
He snorts. Hot steam blows directly to my eyes.
"Don't speak nonsense, boy. You can't even fly yet. And we must go back home right now. Your mom's thirtieth life begins."
My mom's thirtieth life...how can I forget it? A Phoenix has its new birth every five years. It is a necessary stage for a Phoenix to practice his ability to maintain life. If the Phoenix survives thorough the birth, he would likely obtain stronger and healthier body, but if he fails, he will be nothing but ashes.
"Aren't you coming, boy?" Shouts Dad, scratching the hot sand with his sharp claws.
I hop on my father's back. His feathers are bright crimson, and his wings are big enough to cover my whole body. He was elected as the "Rising Sun Phoenix. The title of the Rising Sun Phoenix is given to the most respectable Phoenix in the town.
Flying. I always love that sentiment. As my father soar up to the air, his feathers gleam in the sunlight like scarlet flames. I see the fluffy clouds towering over my crest. I always wanted to touch them with the tip of my wings and feel the silky mist passing through my feathers, but my parents did not permit me to do so. Phoenixes dread clouds and mists, too. They hate everything related to water. They say water is weak and pathetic. They say it gives pain to a Phoenix.
I flinch as my dad lower his body. I can see our nest right below, decorated with sunflowers and red rubies. My dad circles around our house and cautiously lands on our private landing area.
We step into the house. Jet-black cinders and ashes are scattered all over the floor, and part of the roof and the walls have new burn marks on them. I cough as the smoke raids into my throat.
"Happy 30th life, Volcania." exclaims my Dad, laughing.
A Phoenix, with her crest messed up and her feathers randomly pointing in all directions, dashes out of the kitchen. She is as powerful and lively as an erupting volcano.
"Happy 30th life, Mom," I mutter. I sound so pathetic and insignificant under her burning eyes.
"Thank you, Fuegisol," replies my mom, as though she didn't hear me at all. Perhaps she didn't hear me at all because I'm almost invisible in this house.
My first heart begins to vibrate.
Control yourself, silly. Don't act like a phoenix who can't even control his emotions.
"Did you hear that, Fuegisol?" She continues. "They are electing the new "Rising Sun Phoenix in our next generation."
Rising Sun Phoenix? In our generation?
"And of course my son will be elected." She continues.
My heart leaps up. She trusts in me! Why did I think that she always despised me?
"Yes," agrees my dad, "of course our son Maxifuoc will get the award."
My heart begins to collapse. Of course it wasn't me. Maxifuoc is my brother. He has handsome, bright red feathers and massive wings. He flies splendidly and his ashes wasn't wet when he was born.
I stare at my poor feathers in awful shade of pink. I try to flap my wings but it droops heavily to the floor.
"He is the honor of our family," remarks my mom proudly.
"He's handsome because he's my son, Volcania," argues my dad.
"He's my son too!"
"We'd better take him to the feather-dresser."
"We'll trim up his claws first!"
"And we'll buy a bottle of crest-gel for him, too."
"Dad," I break up, "I'll practice on my flying."
They all rounds at me. The smiles and excitements fade out of their faces.
"Adults are talking, AQUAO. Go out and play with the other cubs," orders my dad calmly.
My second heart heats up and starts to prick me.
Don't act silly, Aquao. Phoenixes should not suffer! March out of the nest like nothing happened.
I stagger to the door and the sun eyes reproachfully at me out of it. March on, Aquao.
I wander alone on the Burning Square. In the right corner couple of young Phoenixes are whispering to each other, wings on wings. My brother Maxifuoc is in the center of the circle. He is the top star among the kids.
“I AM the Rising Sun Phoenix. I am the biggest, the handsomest, the strongest and the swiftest," he brags, with his crest piercing the sky. Several cheers and gasps and cat-calls broke out from the crowd.
“I am. I can fly better than you,” argues Igneous.
“You idiots, the govern-Phoenixes are searching for something different this time,” snaps Lucetinta sharply. Everyone lowers their head to listen better. Lucetinta, satisfied in the reaction, whispered as seriously and mysteriously as possible for better dramatic effect.
“They’re looking for a super power Phoenix.”
“A super power Phoenix?” Exclaims Maxifuoc, awe-stricken.
A superpower? Will I have an undiscovered superpower? Fat choice of that happening.
My third heart begins to sizzle and fizzle. Don't cry, Aquao, it's almost as dishonorable as suffering pain! My heart is getting out of my control again. I squeeze my body and flap my wings. A terrible groan comes out of my throat.
Maxifuoc turns his head sharply to me. Ugly mock spreads on his handsome face.
"Can it be my dear brother AQUAO?
“Have you been overhearing us, Aquao?” Snarls Igneus, nudging my wings with his sharp beak.
“Why, is he crying? Well, that would be a superpower, wouldn't it? Because all Phoenixes-sneering at me- well, at least respectable ones doesn't cry."
Phoenixes forgot how to cry. They can't (or won't) feel pain. They despise pain and run away from it because they are birds of uncountable new lives. They ignore them. True Phoenixes does.
But who am I?
Am I a Phoenix?
"Three cheers for the Super Power Phoenix!"
The crowd roars with approval of Maxifuoc's suggestion. They adorn me with their toenails and beaks.
"Stop it! It hurts me!" I groan, panting and gasping. My hearts boil and burn inside me like missiles ready to be fired. All seven of them.
"Did you hear that, it hurts him!" Igneous shrieks, smirking. The crowd roars with laughter. It sounds like broken cackling of the fire.
They drag me to the beach. They say I'd better vanish into the water because I'm a shame among the Phoenixes. They say the hateful water is where I should belong.
My back hits the burning sand. The sun is ruthlessly hot, indifferent to the things that are happening under her eyes. Another round of bullets fires upon me and the pain becomes unbearable.
I scream and groan. My wings are dissolving into ashes. They drift in the air and disappear into the sea.
"He doesn't even have a wing now!" Shouts Lucetinta.
They start to dance around me like thousands of dancing fires. They shriek and cat call and poke me with their claws.
"The shame! The lame! The phoenix without wings! Hail to the Super Power Phoenix!"
Another round of bullets fires on my skin. The heart is still squeezing inside me. They swell and balloon, pleading me to let them burn away. I wish I can release them out of me. But I don't know how. Phoenixes forgot how to cry.
Suddenly they all run away from me, squeaking and shrieking. They disappear from my sight. It’s raining. Heavy raindrops fall on the steaming sand. I can't run away from them. I lie there, and the raindrops falls straight to my face.
The raindrops fall on my pink feathers. They cover my sores and blisters. It doesn’t hurt me at all. Perhaps my father was wrong. They are warm and friendly and they seem to comfort me. They don't think I'm a shame at all. They say true Phoenix face pain, because Phoenixes are birds of uncountable new lives.
Cry, Aquao, cry.
Then I release the knot that always bound me. Tears stream out of me.
They wet the shoreline.
Who am I?
The tears are still flowing like endless rivers.The seven hearts are like seven burning suns. They burn, they fire. The flames get bigger and bigger and licks my face. My hearts eventually swallow me and spread the fire all over my body. The seven suns rise to the blue sky.
I don't even have a wing now. But I have the pains and the sores that stretches out of me and flutters bravely in the blue sky. The thing that always had been a shame and a melancholy becomes a fire and burns across the sky.
Flying. I always like the sentiment. The mist of the fluffy clouds passes through my body. I hoot and shout cheerfully at them. The clouds suddenly become burning coals. They flame and turns the pale blue skies into crimson.
The beasty waves roar in excitement to me. I touch them with my wings and they become hot boiling larvae and gently lick my face. I glide over the burning sky and stretch my wings. They are now big enough to cover the mountains. I blanket the rocky giants with my feathers and they also set on fire.
I am burning.
The skies are burning.
The sea is burning.
The mountains are burning.
I am red.
The skies are red.
The sea is red.
The mountains are red.
Everything is red.
My flames dance before me. My burning hearts fire upon the world like living bullets. The world is painted with my colors, and every pages of them are filled with my stories.
Then everything comes to an end. The fires turn into ashes. I turn into ashes, and my ashes they dump into the ocean which is now blue. The sky cools down and my story ends. My body shatters in the wind like burnt fragments of papers. But I don’t care. I’m AQUAO, remember? A new me, bigger and stronger, begins to emerge among the waters. My eyes flash and illuminate like two golden suns.
Who am I?
Whatever you would like to call.
But more importantly,
Who are you?