Conversation with a Phoenix
The wedding party was in full swing. I sashayed into the grand ballroom in my purple gown and my wildly fluttering feather headdress. Music blared and the other travellers mingled, sharing stories of their adventures on the Serpentine Road. L'Enchanteur herself was in the corner, holding court with other important-looking dignitaries. I waved at her and then headed towards the bar.
On the way, I glanced out the portico window to the great lawn out front. All the animals that brought us here were enjoying their own party. Albert was in his glorious element, entertaining a gaggle of young she-donkeys with a totally falsified story, no doubt. On his withers, though, perched Matilda, the Pirate Queen's first mate. She was whispering something into Albert's ear and he began whinnying in delight. "Strumpet!" I muttered as I changed direction. I needed to break up this little party right away before Albert got too entangled for his own good.
Before I could reach the portico doors, I heard a loud squawk and saw a mountain of color suddenly loomed up before me. I stopped in my tracks. Standing before me was an enormous bird. It was about eight feet tall with the brightest feathers I had ever seen on a bird-- crimson, magenta, gold, and turquoise--each one shimmering as if dusted with crushed diamonds. I looked around me. Everyone was still loudly conversing, trying to hear each other over the music. No one seemed to notice the arrival of this monstrous creature.
"Whoa, dude. Cool hat," it said. I looked around and then pointed to myself and mouthed the word "Me?"
"Yeah, you, dude."
"Um, I'm not a dude...."
The bird squinted his eyes at me. "Oh, yeah, right....Dudette. We get messed up sometimes with you bipedal-types," he began to guffaw.
"'We?' Who, or what, exactly are you?" I asked.
The bird puffed his breast-feathers. "I am whatcha call a 'Phoenix'!"
"Oh, I've heard about Phoenixes. You're here to do a good deed."
"Yup, and it's yer lucky day. I'm your ticket to the perfect adventure."
"No, sorry, I don't want any more adventures at the moment. I'm just waiting until we pull out toward the Cave of the Ancestors. "
"Who says I'm here to take you away?"
"But you just said you're going to take me on an adventure."
"Yeah, but inside, sweet-thing, inside". The Phoenix lifted the curve of his wing and indicated his chest.
Suddenly, I got it. "But I'm already 'inside', first at Riversleigh and now here. The Real World is 'out there'."
"Yeah, but you need to go further in. You're only on the surface, even in the Virtual World. "
"So how do I do that?"
The Phoenix turned sideways and lifted his wing. "Grab one."
I looked at him suspiciously. I had "borrowed" some of Matilda's feathers and now she was getting even by flirting with my horse.
"Go ahead. It won't hurt."
I gently took hold of one of the smaller feather on his side and tugged slowly. The feather came out easily. Even this small feather was nearly a foot long.
"There. Now you just keep that in a safe place. The next time you have a writer's block, just whip out that feather and you'll start yer way on an inward flight you will never forget."
"You betcha." The Phoenix glanced out the windows towards Matilda still talking to Albert. "Wow, get a load of that chick! We done here?"
"I'm outta here." He bounced toward the door and Matilda.
I looked down at the iridescent feather glimmering in my hand. Etched on the quill of the feather: "When in doubt, fly."
Text: Lori Gloyd (c) June 1, 2006