Arms outstretched and pointing towards the darkened sky. Drops of rain tumbled down onto my face, forming a pool of water just above my chin. A drop of water fell onto my lips and it tasted salty, like the sea. Like tears.
My breathing was laboured and I was unable to distinguish the thunder from the sound of my own heart beat. I was wet from the falling rain, or was just my sweat and tears? I was unsure of everything now. I was only aware of the heavy breeze rushing past my face as I fell, down, down, down. Tears burned into my flesh, like a fire burning through a forest. And it was. The forest I’d known and loved my whole life was being hunted down by the same fire that had been on my shoulder only minutes ago.
I found myself wondering, why? Because I was young, foolish, and a disappointment to all who knew me. I was a nobody, and this is why I’d taken this jump, this leap of faith. A leap into a new start, with new beginnings…
The sea water beneath me was cold like ice, a freezing, cold greeting. But there was no splash. I sunk right into the water that enveloped me. I found myself pushing to get back to the surface. My face broke through, and I breathed in deeply. A feeling of relief washed over me like the waves that had broken my fall. I swam to the shore and ran my hand through the sand. I brushed myself off and realized where I was.
All around me was the intoxicating smell of Texas. It seemed to engulf me, swallow me up until nothing was left. My head was light, the world resembled a spinning top, a blur of colours with nothing in it. From a normal person’s perspective, it would’ve been a glorious day. Sun shining brightly, birds singing sweetly, a walk in the park, so-to-say. But I was not normal, however much the world was. Wild winds stormed through the treetops, like a hungry wolf hunting its prey. I was it’s prey, and I was running, not caring for what destiny had in store for me. A hooded figure emerged from Dead-Man’s Forest, a sinister grin on their face. I could’ve sworn the character looked familiar, but I couldn’t think, didn’t want to. The figure shouted something to me, but it landed on deaf ears. They shouted again, and this time I did hear. ‘Watch out!’ I turned around and something sharp and heavy penetrated my scalp. The world stopped spinning, I stopped breathing. I closed my eyes and let all my thoughts encircle me. Who have I become?
I awoke to the sound of voices. I opened my eyes slowly, I held my hand above my face so as to shield my eyes from the hot glare of the sun. My mind was filled with images of fire, replaying the events of the past as if on a video tape. I found myself thinking about past decisions, ones that, if I hadn’t made, might change the way the events in my life had carried out. This is how it began…
I was walking through the edge of the forest singing softly to myself, when a creature started to approach me. It was an orangey colour, a dying glow of sunset. It resembled a bird, but had much more glorious colour than an ordinary bird would have. And so I concluded that this must be a very special sort of bird… a bird of fire. And it was henceforth christened, ‘The Fire Phoenix.’
The Fire Phoenix landed upon my shoulder as whispered in my ear.
“Fire comes as fire comes, Who runs? Who runs?”
I stared at the creature, (now known as ‘The Fire Phoenix’) on my shoulder. “Did- did you just speak?” I asked The Fire Phoenix. The Fire Phoenix seemed only to smile at me. “Speak! Speak?” It said.
“What?” I asked.
“Fire comes as fire comes, Who runs? Who runs?” It replied.
I was now quite freaked out by this point, so I made an attempt to shove the poor bird off my shoulder, but The Fire Phoenix did not move.
“Fire comes as fire comes, Who runs? Who runs?” It said again.
Branches the trees cut into my flesh, and the roots beneath me caused my feet to bruise. But still,
The Fire Phoenix did not budge.
I was now getting impatient, so I screamed. My throat itches, but nothing worked. Again;
The Fire Phoenix did not budge.
I finally just contented myself to sit down and weep, for nothing could get this rotten bird off my shoulder.
“Fire comes as fire comes, Who runs? Who runs?” It said, again and again. But I did not understand the meaning of its words.
And then the fire came.
“You ran! You ran!” Cried The Fire Phoenix tauntingly. “Fire comes as fire comes, who runs? You run!”
Now, fully in despair, ran further and further. Faster and faster until I had no energy left. “Wrong move! Wrong move!” The tiresome creature snarled at me. “Phoenix is right! Phoenix is right!”
“Enough!” I shouted. The Fire Phoenix cackled louder in my ear. “Who disobeys the fire disobeys me!”
At last, I came to the edge of a cliff, and jumped onto the water. The Fire Phoenix let go of my shoulder at last.
And this is where I am now.
And so the lesson I have learnt from this is; Always listen to talking birds. They know more than you may think.