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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Death
By Stephanie Bullard


Elgan felt the breath catch somewhere in his throat. It rattled around, tinny, shallow, not quite reaching fully into his lungs before seeping slowly back out. He felt like coughing, but no longer had the energy, felt like fighting, but no longer had the will. He was dying. He knew it and, while he did not embrace it as they all told him he should, he accepted it. He had to; what else could he do? The others had tried to talk to him, to explain as best they could what he should expect. But no one could ever give him good enough information, no one could put it into meaningful words, no one could even seem to agree on the basics. Some said you couldn’t remember anything about the process; some said you could remember, but only in a vague fog-like way, an undercurrent of understanding that could not be grasped if one acted upon it directly, but only if allowed to flow in its elusive manner. Some said it affected you forever after; some said its power did not reach beyond the end of the process. They all agreed on one thing: it would be an experience unlike anything before.

Well, sure. He had never died before, so he guessed that was an accurate statement. But he had decided early on, that was the only definitive information he would receive. He chose to disregard the rest. Despite the constant, urgent pleadings of the others who insisted it was important to talk of the process, Elgan steadfastly refused and ignored the inevitable. It was coming. Yes. He knew. But from the time he had reached initial adolescence the others had focused on nothing but the death. The “process.” The first. The end. The beginning. And initially, he had gone along. Oh yes, at first he had craved the discussions. He needed them, devoured them, lived for them.

It was Vanalox who had first brought to his attention the paradox of living for death. But the idea had settled on him; taken root; grown until it consumed him and he chose to dwell on living instead of dying. The others criticized, insisted that Vanalox could not possibly understand. Griffons were different and Elgan should avoid Vanalox and his misguided rhetoric at all costs.

But Elgan didn’t, for he had seen more intelligence in Vanalox’s point of view than in the others’. Even now, lying unable to move, completely uninformed, he did not regret the choice. Death would come and he had lived more in this one life than any of the others had ever done.

Suddenly his breath froze in his throat, refusing to come or go. The heat started deep within, from the center of his being. In a flash, it spread, flooding every pore. It carved a deep hollowness into him, out of him; and emptiness like being hungry, only without the ache. It was an emptiness he craved, rather than one that created a craving, for this emptiness was a pouring out of himself, a releasing, a renewal. Flames, orange, red, blue and green burst from within him. They did not engulf him, but rather they were him. He was the flames. There was no pain, only the sense of needed release. In an instant it was over and a nothingness took him, a darkness, an otherworldliness in which he did not exist.

And then he was back. The world appeared to him clearer, fresher; he saw in a way he could never remember seeing. Carefully he struggled, flopping on legs that would not hold him, flapping stubs that barely resembled wings. He pulled himself out of the ashes of his former life and he lay on the ground marveling. Then, cautiously, he pulled himself into a sitting position and stared at his surroundings, so familiar. So new. The existence of his former life settled on him like the new feathers that prickled his skin; there, a part of him, but only noticeable if he concentrated. Things would be different now, and deep down a part of him mourned the changes that would come. He would keep it; somehow he needed it. But largely he embraced the idea of the fresh existence ahead of him. Such was the life of a Phoenix. Such was his life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 03/07/08
You are a master with words! Your descriptions of death in your first paragraph are so graphic and perfect. The image you've created of the Phoenix in your final paragraph is amazing. I really enjoyed all your allusion, pictures and descriptions. I think this is beautifully written.
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/08/08
Very skillfully written. I'm don't know much about the lore of Pheonixes, so I had to go read about them. :-)
Sharlyn Guthrie03/08/08
Interesting piece! I stumbled a bit when I came to the word "Vanalox." I thought it was some kind of medication at first (LOL)! From that point on I realized I was in another realm.
Holly Westefeld03/08/08
This was a creative and intriguing read.
Patty Wysong03/08/08
Wow! Such great descriptions!! The names through me, but I was captivated enough to not slow down--now they make sense. Super job!