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"Better To Burn Out" by Samuel Edwards

CW: death/suicide.

A bird of flame. A beast of heat. Mythical and magical with a dash of elegance. The Phoenix soars the open skies on a plane of fire, scorching his way through the night like a comet—

But, frankly, he has had enough. The economy is in tatters. Bills are never ending. His back hurts when he wakes up. And things aren’t great at home with Mrs. Phoenix.

Things weren’t supposed to be this way. The others have all faded into legend; the Griffin, a symbol of bravery and courage, adorned on shields and flags throughout the isles; the Minotaur went down in glorious battle, though he didn’t account for Theseus and that damn ball of string; the Sirens stuck around a while, but they couldn’t compete with the internet and instant gratification. The Hydra lasted the longest of them all, the many-headed and venomous serpentine who slithered and poisoned his way through history, ended up in a job with the Republican Party where he campaigned for the NRA and the pro-life crowd. Scurvy ultimately defeated the Hydra, withered and hollow from depositing all his poison into the entire branch of government until eventually it was a pointless exercise in futility.

And yet, the Phoenix remains. A passenger in life, his flame down its embers and barely a spark.

Bereft and despondent, the Phoenix turns to the bottle. Vodka, whiskey, even that damn ouzo that’s been sitting in the back of his cupboard since his last trip to Greece that he can’t stand the smell of… In one wild evening, he downs it all.

The Phoenix staggers through the night, the moonlight his only companion, crying and singing in equal measure, until he comes to a solitary train track. The distant sound of thunder and metal can be heard, and he’s already made up his mind.

The collision is sudden.

There’s an explosion of feathers and fire, then there’s nothing at all. Nothing, besides a small collection of ashes by the side of the train tracks.

Morning comes, and as the sun rises, so too do the ashes begin to spark and ignite. Suddenly, there’s a storm of fire, as flames swirl and leap, the ground is scorched with an intense heat, the very air itself burns to a crisp as from the ashes rise the Phoenix, magnificent and regal, reborn and given new life, and he looks to the sky, to the dawning of a new day, he cries out, “For God’s Sake, not again!”

Samuel Edwards writes silly words and foolish stories, all in a vain attempt to be respected and adored. Please don't hold it against him. He has a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree from the University of Leeds, and is studying for a Masters in Creative Writing. Samuel writes primarily to impress his pet cat, a feat he will never accomplish. Previously published in Vestal Review, The Birdseed and Flash Fiction Magazine, among others. Tweets at @Sam_Edwards1990.


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