Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)
By Stephanie Bullard
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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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