The phoenix huffs. He turns this way and that, glaring at the mirror. “I am not beautiful” he says.
The owl sighs. “You are beautiful, very beautiful. Look at your shining feathers and long lashes.”
“My feathers are dull. Why must these colours be these colours? What are these sinews and tendons? Why must they bulge so large?”
“But that is your strength! Your wings beat with power! You can soar above all others; they lie jealously in your wake! How do you not see what they see? What I see?” The owl looks mournfully at her phoenix, he is so beautiful and yet so sad. “You are strong and you are beautiful.”
“I only see that I am strong. Strong is good, strong is desirable, but why must strong be me?”
The phoenix longs for his fire. It is so far away.
“Maybe next time I will be beautiful. But must I wait?”
The owl sleeps. She hunts. She watches from afar with pleading, accusing eyes.
The phoenix stops flying. His wings, once so glorious, wither and fold. He is no longer strong but he is still sad.
“I am not beautiful.”
The owl contemplates. It is not a death, but it will be the same. The night is all she will have to protect her.
The owl lights the tinder, they stare into the flame. She walks away. She will not watch, but will not leave on wings either.
The phoenix rises from the ashes. She is beautiful.
By Danielle Jones