I am torn between two agonies. There is fire around me, always, never-ending fire that burns in my breast and turns my feathers to cinders. They watch me when I fly, marveling at my brilliance. Were they me. Would they understand. I have not died and yet I have died so many times I have lost count of the ages. I am like the insect trapped in amber, frozen in a perpetual state of half-life, wondering when I will ever be free and knowing that no one has the will or power to break my cage. But I am voiceless to protest my situation, forever imprisoned, forever ignored.
My first agony is my yearning to be free. They value my tears for their healing powers and yet they do not know why I weep. Are they so blind? Do my radiant feathers of red and gold and blue enrapture them so much that they cannot comprehend my pain and sorrow? Look at me. I am phoenix, you know the legend. I dread the night, fear the death of the sun for each night it heralds my own death. I am consumed, continuously, by that raging fire that leaps up around me and destroys my body. It is a horrible way to die and yet I cannot ever escape, not even in the permanent oblivion that mortals so dread. Such a thing would be a blessing but it is denied me. So I can only cry, that keening ringing voice that echoes across the mountains and shakes the hearts of all who hear it. And I weep, my tears spilling down and evaporating in the fires that roar around and through me, burning my heart to nothing, washing me away with the cold mountain air. I die with the sun and rise with the sun. And it will never end, it has not for all these centuries.
The humans, they only watch and marvel. Am I such a thing, such a show that they would delegate my pain to a mere afterthought? Have they become so inured to my death that they will take my tears and shed none in return? I am a mockery, a paroxysm of pain and grief. Watch if you will, bear witness to my passing, but do not become immune to it. I feel the fire, I feel my death, that exact moment my heart stops beating and the sun slides over the horizon. Do you not understand that I feel? Do you not understand that my ringing cry is not one of triumph but of agony? Please, do not turn me into this. I wonder if this is part of my prison, that my bars are a lack of empathy, glassy glazed eyes that fail to comprehend. Pain cannot be ignored, not by the sufferer. But apparently it is easily turned away and forgotten with a twist of the human mind.
My second agony is my rising. But how can this be pain, if I have endured the fire? It is a thing of triumph, of the ultimate rebirth. I have arisen! I have conquered death! My wings leap from the ashes, scattering the remains of the night and rejoicing in the birth of a new day. Life is restored, my feathers renewed, and light spills forth from the dawn, lighting my eyes to rubies. I can soar through the perfect sky, echoing the joy of flight through the lonely mountain passes, the wind through my wings and the death of the previous night forgotten. It is joy. Pure, unadulterated, joy. I am the ultimate cheat, the greatest subterfuge in the world in that I can give death its due and then snatch my hand back at the last minute. A constant gambit with all the cards in my deck. And yet it is an agony of its own, for each time I rise I face the fire once more. It will come, it is inevitable. All the beauty of life cannot be erased of this stain, this horrible stigma that dwells across my back like a shadow. Death will come. And I will weep and thrash as the fire claims me.
Yet, when my wings spread and my eyes open, I can push this thought aside. I can rise, can breath, can be. And that is where the agony lies. I rage even as I burn that people can forget my pain so easily and yet each morning I do the same thing. Am I nothing but a hypocrite, crying out to be noticed while refusing to notice myself in the process? This is a fire of its own, a fire of my own make and devising. I am my own doom in this, my own death. A second cage, this time one I hold the key for but can never bring myself to open. I forget my own pain and rejoice in the brief respite, never acknowledging that when the light fades the fire will fall and I will die. Alone. Forgotten, even by myself. For I am the phoenix, and I will never die in the way I wish.