Sara’s mistress was dying.

She was still agile, graceful, painfully beautiful. Her once fire red hair, now streaked heavily with silver, curled softly over slightly ashen skin that had once glowed an ethereal gold. Bright amber eyes still danced with intelligence, even lined as they now were.

Only those closest to her could determine that she was, at last, fading. Who closer than the family who’d served her lineage for a millennia.

She’d been more absent of late, her presence somewhat diminished, distracted. Arising early each morning to meet the sun as it bloomed over the mountain, waiting, her body almost humming in anticipation. Sara would stand back on the balcony to oversee her needs, whatever they may be. Then, once the sun had ascended, her mistress would nod in greeting before gliding off with a wistful smile.

Sara sensed her disappointment growing stronger each day, fluttering gently somewhere inside her own ribcage. She was anxious, she supposed, for what was to come.

She hovered at her balcony now, white silk robe blowing gently, staring off to the distance as the deep purple sky began shimmering into pink, then orange, the first hint of sunlight peeking over the mountain.

The hairs on Sara’s arms rose, prickling her skin as her mistress quirked her head slightly. Sara’s pulse quickened as she began to radiate light.

Finally.

As the sun slowly soared higher, embers licked at her mistress’ skin, in turn becoming flame. Sara watched in awe, fighting her natural instinct to act, as the fire grew.

Flames engulfed her entirely now, and Sara coughed around the taste in her throat, the heat searing her skin even distanced as she was. Wings of fire unfurled, the image of a colossal bird manifesting itself where her mistress once stood. It burned for what felt like eternity, before reducing itself to a shimmering black ash.

Sara stepped forward tentatively, bracing herself against the still simmering heat, wiping her eyes free of dust.

A small cry… then another.

Sara bent down, smiling, beholding the black smudged infant peering up at her from the ashes.

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Voice-Team
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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
7 months ago

Lyrical, other-worldly portrait of the death and birth of the legendary Phoenix. Compelling from the first word to the last. Beautiful story.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Another brilliant story Emily, beautifully written and so imaginative. Great stuff.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago

This is a masterful piece of writing, Emily. I wanted to write about the Phoenix for this contest, but couldn’t quite manage it. I’m glad I didn’t – you have set a high standard that would be hard to match! Your writing is powerful and keeps the reader moving forward until the wonderful ending. Congratulations on a superb story.

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Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
7 months ago
Reply to  Emily O'Leary

I think maybe those who don’t know the legend of the Phoenix might not get the entire meaning, such as the newborn baby at the end. But even if one had never heard of the Phoenix, this would still be a magnificent story.

Orlando Sanchez
Orlando Sanchez (@orlando-sanchez)
7 months ago

Fantastic story! Especially enjoyed the slight twist of the infant peering up.

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

A story overflowing with love Emily, mystifying and magical. I only hope when I reach the end of my days that my eyes dance with intelligence. Beautifully written.

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

How inventive of you, Emily, to use the story of Phoenix in this way! It is a wonderful piece of writing and I enjoyed very much reading it.
As a comment to your conversation with Fuji: I recognized the story of Phoenix immediately, partly because I used to work as a Swedish teacher at the university of Caen, Normandy, France which used this bird (Phenix in French) as a symbol for its campus, the reason being that the university was totally destroyed during the end of World War II (as also was 3/4 of the city), but was rebuilt again on the ashes. There is a big piece of art symbolizing the flames and the bird at a central place of campus.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Hi Emily, you set the tone and the pace of this story in the first sentence – ”Sara’s mistress was dying”. what a wonderful descriptive piece of writing that followed. I really can’t add to what has been written below, but do you mind if I ask – how did this story come to you? And did it just flow for you ?? 10 out of 10.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago
Reply to  Emily O'Leary

And I knew exactly what I wanted to write, and didn’t start until a couple of days before the closing date ?. I think Callie took over last month and Carrie couldn’t get a word in edgewise!

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

Well done Ems. A doubly whammy! I would so much like to see more of these characters too. So intriguing!

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

Double congratulations Emily, well deserved.

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Julie Harris
Julie Harris (@julie-harris)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Emily. This was one of my favorite Wings stories. I’ve always loved the idea of the Phoenix; the drama leading up to the end was palpable. I love your use of colors as well.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

Well done again, Emily!

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Emily, to both 2nd and 3rd place! You did great jobs!

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
7 months ago

Congratulations, Emily! This story was captivating from the first line!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Well done, Emily. Congratulations.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
1 month ago

Hello Emily. I just read your “Daughter of Fire and Ash” again. Since I saw that fabulous picture and read the story the first time, it has been one of my favorites. I’m so glad they picked it to go into the eBook. It is a wonderful example of superb flash fiction. Congratulations for being included in the book!

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