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The Phoenix

by Frances Leah Brown 7 months ago in Short Story · updated 7 months ago
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Burn it

The Phoenix

When she entered the world, she radiated happiness. She ran with confidence through the fields, greeted strangers with joy, and wondered why people didn’t smile as they went about their day. She talked to the animals and believed they spoke to her. She knew the earth and all its songs. She heard it singing every day.

But there were rules to be learned. Ways of behaving that were imperative. Words like “Ladylike”. Phrases like “…Seen and not heard”. And judgements. So many judgements. Naughty. Stubborn. Fanciful.

She tried so hard to follow the rules. She put away her wildness and exuberance for dresses, knees together, ankles crossed, voice diminished. No fidgeting or whistling, and especially no speaking her particular brand of truth. So her wildness had to go into hiding. It waited in the darkness, though, jumping out when it could no longer be silent. “This is not right!” It would shout, hands on hips, chin in the air. Punishment was swift and a behavior was learned. Shame, and a phrase that bloomed with shame stayed too long. It’s still there, in fact.

“Sorry. I’m sorry. “

But she continued to try to fit into a mold made of someone else’s measurements. Someone else’s ideals. Someone else’s sense of worth. No exuberance for the wind? No excitement with the thunder storm? No, the earth is too trivial. Stay vigilant to SOCIETY’S rules. Wait for acceptance. Wait for permission. Your voice isn’t important. Your opinion is of no worth. But no matter the rules, the love of the earth and of nature, and of adventure and surprise continued to rise up. The joy was still present.

There was violence, then. Violence against her body. Violence that took her dimmed voice and shook it to a whisper. But with that violence, rage crept in and joined it's heat to her wild voice. They screamed together in the dark so loudly that sometimes it poured out of her very skin. “Trust no one!” they screamed. She listened for years, her eyes and ears trained for violence. Vigilence is exhausting however. The voices lost some of their intensity over time. They were tired.

Love? That belonged to the young and beautiful, right? The dainty dew covered youth. Then one day she staggered under the realization that love was setting up residence in her heart. There was a man willing to walk beside her, scars and bristles and rage included. And with him, came a child beyond all dreaming.

There were losses. As we all have known, or will know. So much loss. Death of dreams, and loved ones. But she rose up. Tried again. Found her voice and used it, even though it was sometimes too loud and accompanied by the words “I’m sorry” while her hands strayed to her hips and her chin lifted.

In time her body burned away the hormones of youth, leaving something new. A casting off of a false skin, finding the guardian of birth and death. There, springing up from the flames was someone very familiar: the true soul, the wild voice, the ancient connection. She was there all the time, then. The wild one. The oldest friend.

The things that were learned began to burn away. Some things smoldered and slowly became dust. Others were gone in an instant, like flash paper..gone as they were named.

This is beauty.

This is how a woman should look.

This is acceptable behavior.

This is how you get a man.

This is how you demoralize yourself for the sake of fitting into a society that despises you.

Dust and ashes.

She looks forward to the burning away now. Let it fall away in curls of vapor. She waits with a glimmer in her eye, a smile on her lips, her feet firmly planted in the soil of the earth. She can feel her phoenix wings beginning to open.

Short Story

About the author

Frances Leah Brown

I am a professional singer and actor, gardener, teacher and mama bear, with a love of fiction. This is the first forum in which I've submitted my writing. It feels wonderful.

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