|The Lonliest Bird in the Sky
Author: Ethereal Gale PM
A pheniox recies temporary reprive from lonliness when she hears the song of her species-but who could be calling her? there is only one pheniox,after all...r&r and I'll give you a cookie! .Rated: Fiction K - English - Tragedy/Romance - Words: 1,356 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 08-11-05 - id: 1983402
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Loneliest Bird
The loneliest bird in the skies patrolled the ethereal blue with a diligence unequaled. A peacock carved from rock quarried from the sun; a glistening thing, her feathers headed with wreathing, dancing blooms of flame instead of iridescent eyes. Golden and mystifying, she burned her way across the day, leaving holes ripped in the clouds and a shudder of ash in her wake.
She chased nothing. She chased nothing for years, but nothing was fleeting and aired, and nothing was not tangible, not palpable. Nothing always escaped. In the end, the only thing she ever had to show for her search, her chase, was the thudding in her chest of a heartbeat exhilerated-which sounded not like drums but like the strands of a harp- and the gray that veiled the sky everywhere she'd been, eventually cart wheeling to the ground like rain in slow motion.
Then, one day, a wish so deep, so laced with longing, that she could never articulate it-was answered, and she was given something to chase.
When it came, it was vague and fleeting as nothing, but it was indubitably something. It was real. It was realest thing the loneliest bird in the skies had ever heard, in all her short centuries, in all her endless days and longer,bleaker nights.
It was a note, purer and suppler than the note her heart cried, fuller and stronger than the note the sky cried between bouts of spears and thunder. And then there was another note, like the one before it, but higher, and trilling. The whole thing lilting and submerging, inescapable, and utterly compelling. She knew the song before she heard it's finish. She knew the song before she heard it all.
She answered it, quietly, her voice grown thin from ill-use. There had never been another. There was no evolutional need for another; when she died she ascended, cracked from the egg formed of her bones, and flew with her own flames into the sky once again, trailing orange into blue, muddying the painter's palette.
But some things transcend need. And every species has a song. Even a species with no one to sing it to has a song.
This wasn't their song, but it was her song. The song some thoughtless curse of smite and myth had kept her from hearing until that day.
She paused,hovered, beat her wings and lashed flame, burning like the sun itself, confusing villagers below, who couldn't decide which glowing orb to shield their fragile eyes against.
Had she dreamed it? Thought it? Had it slipped unbidden from her own lips?
But,no; It hadn't. For now it continued,perpetuated itself, fearless and as ethereal as the zephyr that teased her. At once infinite and ephemeral.
She matched it's notes; perfect pitch.
She dove, fast as a falcon, though more horizontal, and chased something other than nothing for the first time since the dawn of time; for the first time in any of her lives, for the first time since ever.
She wasn't used to chasing something that could be find, and consequently was unversed in how to do it. She went in circles, and the wrong direction, frantic and yearning, and in the end, she only really found the music's source by chance, and a little luck long overdue.
She found him on a rock, standing rigid and upright, commanding an air of power and patience, like water waiting for a tide.
His hair was long, sleek as a vole's pelt and dark as the deepest depths. His skin held an opposite pallor, like the moon, like the strange plants that burst from the soil and glowed with no color, called dead mans fingers' by the man's own race.
Both of his hands, sturdy and square, were cupped about his mouth, an amplifier of flesh and callous. His eyes were closed in intent and musical ecstasy. The song flowed from him easily,like a river. He sang with all the bright,shifting,dangerous beauty of fire, sang like fire itself.
The loneliest bird stared at what she had found,refusing to understand,hovering as she had the first time she heard the song of her singular,cursed species.
You've come. He said,at last, his voice husky and thick,somehow a semblance of the short,bristly black stubble clinging to his pale,high cheeks. Then he lowered one hand and raised the other,shielding his eyes against her radiance, her glare. He held his hand to her, expecting she would perch upon it,and that he would set her on his shoulder, so she would perch there, as well. As though she was a parrot, he a captain on a sea of flame.
Come closer. He said.
But no. This was not right. The Phoenix found no kin here, no fellow wayfaring spark. No friend and no lover. Instead, the man before her was entirely foreign, human, and flimsily mortal.
Fury welled within her, the product of centuries of raw,bitter loneliness concealed only by her sharp golden beak and her magnificent,bright feathers. As she had before known the emptiness and unfelt loss of solitude, and then the consuming pull of love, she knew now the roaring of despair and the vertigo of confusion.
Billowing black smoke began to eddy and plume off of her, and sparks swarmed like a myriad fireflies. The Phoenix Singer coughed and sputtered, tried in vain to bat away the sooty assault. He couldn't understand what he had done to upset her. All his life he had had only one dream, since his childhood as an avid birdwacther. To learn the call of the greatest bird in all the lands of lore and reality, to learn her call and hone it's tone until She Herself would answer him.
And now that she had, he glimpsed for the first time her true power,complexity, reality. He recalled taunting dogs with sticks. He knew then what he had done, and his own dizzying confusion gave way. At that same moment, a thought slipped unbidden to his head, a black-crowned head filled to the brim with bird calls, and he obeyed it.
He ceased his flailing. He quelled his lashing arms, and though his throat still burned with coughing and ashes:
She froze. Fire stilled and trapped in ice.
She closed her eyes and listened, and imagined. He serenaded her until the smoke vanished, and she burned as true as a beeswax candle, straight and with no hints of gray. He watched her heat make the world around her waver.
And still he sang.
She joined him.
The time came that her plumage and his eyes-which were ruddy brown like the hide of a fawn-were the only lights in the dark forever.
His breath gave out. His voice ended, his song stopped. He breathed hard and ragged, until he breathed smooth and easy once more.
She watched him recover, her head cocked to one side. There was a peculiar feeling lodged in her breastbone, next to her heart-which was as an ember; black without, red within.
He gazed upon her,reverent and defiant, straining to keep the ache and plea from his expression.
She read him deftly for one who spent so long chasing nothing.
She came forward, descended. Alighted upon his hand,outstretched once more. Just for a second.
She met his gaze. The muscles in his hand tightened, the skin where she touched him blackened. But he made no strangled remark, though tears of torture prickled his eyes. They fell, then, as tears of happiness, fulfillment, not of the pain they had been birthed.
Thank you.' He whispered,ignoring the scalding.
She nodded, and she left him.
She disappeared, taking only his song with her, leaving only a burn shaped like a forked serpent's tongue behind her.