Fiction Assignment: Phoenix
This fiction piece has been written for my Uni assignment due next week. If it feels familiar, it’s because it is a re-worked, developed and expanded piece based on work posted here under the same name. Hope you enjoy.
With a slow groan, the front door returned to its frame with a thud. It unsettled the house, lifting the dust particles to dance in the light beam until they drifted back to their dormant position, and also on to Mia’s face. No-one had crossed this threshold for years. Her eyes scanned the grand entrance, pupils dilated to fight the blindness of gloom. They came to rest on the ornate coat stand, which once served as her prima donna in the puppet shows she set up for her family, donned in her grandfather’s trench coat that had carried a lingering scent of clay-like mud. The stand used to gleam under her grandmother’s watch, polished to perfection, but those days are long gone. It now stood bare, coated not in military finery but instead the dulling flakes of dust and, more recently, ash.
Her step echoed as she progressed steadily forward, towards the back of the house. As she passed, her hand instinctively trailed along the smooth marble banister of the curved stairs, caressing the end post the way so many of her family members had done before. The ground seemed to shift as she dislodged years of neglect, kicking over charred wood and what was once a vibrant Persian rug which had suffered flame-bitten wounds, disfigured by destruction. The darkness withdrew the deeper into the house’s belly she walked, overpowered by the sunlight that splintered the shadows. She stopped.
She had not braced herself for the sight before her. The earth fell away, leaving her on the edge of a crater where once her kitchen had stood proudly.
In its depths, the four-poster bed Mia had dived on at Christmas had been left dejected against the granite-topped counters. Ripped from the master bedroom which had lorded over all above the kitchen, it now lay disintegrating amongst the foundations. Closing her eyes with a deep breath, she was sure she could smell the intoxicating perfume her mother had applied with a flourish that day, a light-hearted melody pouring from her lips while ten-year old Mia observed the daily routine. Her head tilted to one side, she admired her mother silently. Where her hair was loose and auburn, her mother’s caramel locks had not a strand out of place. Where her eyes were rounded, her mother’s lined lids were almonds on a porcelain plate. Her mother twirled, skirt momentarily flared like a spinning top before swirling around the knees of youthful legs.
“Mia, honey, what’re you staring for? Be a good girl and help Mum paint her nails, yeah?” When that charming smile reached full beam, Mia was as obedient to her mother as any man had ever been. She slipped off the bed and bounded towards the woman’s open arms, tiptoes dangling against the floorboards as she was lifted into an embrace.
When her eyes opened, Mia saw the same floorboards of the bedroom jutting out above her head, breaking the conformity of the otherwise perfectly sliced cross-section of the house, her home. She could still hear the cackle of flames which had taunted them as they ran that day. The splintering of wood as beams crumbled into ash. The ringing in her ears after that last deafening explosion, which has haunted her for years. The crying. Oh, the crying. The cursing of the Heavens, the breaking of hearts. The glance over those young shoulders towards the front of the house. It was once pearly white and majestic but now, it was tarred with black. To this day it stands like the façade it is, perfectly preserved and masking the desolation of the scene behind it. The wisps of smoke which had remained for days after had whispered of the memories they had built, entwined with the centuries of ancestry stored in the walls which now lay obliterated. She narrowed her eyes against a shard of light that bore into her pupils, shielding her face while seeking its source. Her eyes were relieved of the piercing light, yet the blade which reflected it gave no comfort. The serrated edge of stainless steel was an ominous sword, savagely impaling the golden-skinned, deflated skeleton of the teddy which had been her playmate for years.
Choking back a sob, she ran once more. Claustrophobia seized her, a vice around her chest squeezing the carbon dioxide out while refusing the oxygen she so desperately needed. Her taste buds recoiled at the acidic tide which surged up her throat. Her mind jarred against the oxymoronic emotions of feeling claustrophobic in a large house. Like the feeling of loneliness while stood in a crowded room, the grounded reality of her mind waged war on her heart. She was seconds away from hyperventilating again. She ran from the house, kicking up the decaying leaves that dappled the ground. Gasping for air, her face was burned by the trail of tears down her face, a ravine carved into her cheek. She had underestimated the power of memory, left defenceless against the onslaught of a montage that spanned over a decade, details as clear as the crystal eyes of her speared bear.
Slowing to a stop Mia hunched double, squeezing the pain in her chest in a will to eradicate it. Her hair cascaded down her face, wrapping her in a halo of thought. She had believed she was stronger than this. Time heals and all that, right? Apparently not. The flames of grief and guilt no longer raged but they were not extinguished as she had thought. No, they remained embers, glowing deceitfully, awaiting the moment to ignite once more. If only there was some way to forget what went wrong. If only there was some way to go back. If only, if only… Summoning oxygen for her burning blood cells, she lifted her head out of her hands. The sense of déjà vu overwhelmed her as she gazed at the towering church spire before her. It stood intimidating, unchanged since the funeral procession had left its grounds. Her legs collapsed beneath the burden on her shoulders, leaving her desolate on her knees. Not here, not here. Mia looked down at her hands, bathed in red reflected by a stain glass window. The world tilted like the deck of a ship in storm, pausing at an angle before her head collided with concrete. She gazed at the red round window above her before sinking, submerging in to the consuming darkness that flooded her vision.