The only reason that tied the Phoenix from departing a human family is a little brother.
|I remember the clicking sound of the door lock. The muffled conversation behind the heavy door. The ringing of the keys turning in the lock. And the rustle of a garbage bag. I had no place to hide at that moment. My fire was still too bright to conceal my presence and my body was still not ready for transformation. But I did not panic.
Recalling now, I should know that it is a mistake for chasing the swirling mist in the dark, or I wouldn’t have landed on a human’s doorstep. Even though it was not the first time for such encounter – me with humans – I still preferred not to meet them because I knew there will only be two possibilities for the next to happen.
The mistress of the house appeared right before me. Her name was Nicole, married to Jeremy Swift. Just in time I dimmed my fire and laid on the floor, transformation to human form was almost complete. I appeared as an infant as I was four weeks old in mortal count, just reborn in this century with all memory lost again. It startled me when she suddenly embraced me without second thoughts. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mistakenly pecked on her door which I did not realize is a door and she wouldn’t notice me, careless me. She called her husband out at instant. Both she and her husband were frightened when they saw the colour of my eyes and hair; they assembled the colour of fire, golden orange, not normal for a human. I read their mind as they weren’t frightened away.
There will only be two possible outcomes for such encounter with humans: first, being shoved away due to fear; second, being adopted. And this Swift couple was too kind and loving that they took the second option. I have hoped for the first option though so that I can return to my true home – Nature. Right before they close the door behind, I smouldered the ashes from my feathers in the air and arranged them into my name, Volucris Blaze. They will use it. Counting back the time, it has been seven years since then.
There is only one reason for me to stay until now. And this reason, brought out from Nicole’s womb, four years ago, is standing right behind me. But tonight is finally time for me to leave this family and return to my natured freedom.
“Volucris, pick up blankie,” demanded Tommy, my three-years-old little brother. He is that reason which tied me from my departure. The way his innocence was tainted by his over-loving family just never rests my worries.
I set my book aside and completed his quest. It is not the first time for such scene. And every time when this happens, the other children will crumble into a swarm and stay as far away as possible. Tommy ‘bites’. Viewing the trees outside, I returned to the sliding door. Right before I lay my hind on the same quiet spot, one brave little boy, Peter came toddling with a drawing in his hand. ‘Brave’ because Tommy was beside me.
“Annabelle drew this. Ish this pretty?” The other children stretched their neck long to peep at my response, especially Annabelle. She timidly hid behind a busy-working teacher, sucking her thumb for security. Delicate beings, all of them. Cute.
“It is beau-...”
“Volucris, pick up! Pick up!”
Peter snapped back at Tommy’s blat while fondling his way back to his pack. ‘Stinky King’ they used to call him. The blanket I handed to him seconds ago was on the floor again as if time has itself rewound. The children disliked him for good reasons, for he never shares and never plays fair. Their feelings for him are simple: fear, annoyed but curious.
One snatch from my hand and the blanket ended up at even further distance.
I stared at the blanket lying dead still on the floor. “Pick up, pick up, pick up!!” Tommy pestered. The other children gathered behind the nursery teachers who are all too busy with paper works than to care for this little trouble-maker. They think that I am the only solution to this dilemma, there is no other. So why should they care?
“Tommy, you must learn to share. If you don’t behave, I am going to leave you too, just like Peter and Annabelle,” I said through clenched teeth. I felt the fabric of the blanket pricking under my skin inside my fist. It was not Tommy that I am mad at, but those irresponsible teachers. They stopped teaching Tommy because he is a handful child. They are sinful.
Larva began to gather inside my core uncontrolled by my own conscious; I ventured to tame my flame when I cover Tommy’s head with that blanket – play to forget. He struggled underneath like a wooden puppet letting out audacious laughter. I tossed him high and low and then swung him around in circles until both of us felt giddy and fall down. This little monster screamed with laughter, his tiny hands hung over my neck. Head-touch. “Tommy lurve Volucris!” And I tickled him. I will teach him how to behave today.
This little monster was loved too much that he is veiled to feel it. In his dictionary, the word ‘love’ has been twisted; only those who oblige him deserve his love. He is spoilt and never behaves especially since the day his mother, Nicole decided to take up this new career as a full-time mother. She never left Tommy’s side for more than a minute, except for today.
“Go home! Go home!” Tommy cried out of a sudden. The teachers squirmed in their positions when they heard those words.
It is still a long time until seven, two more hours. I kept Tommy quiet while listening to the teachers’ thoughts. They are hiding the news from him but they can no longer hide it for more than two hours. Sooner or later Tommy will have to learn how to accept life-hardening truths before he can speak in proper sentence. The teachers’ features hardened when I pushed my little brother to them, they are destined to speak whether they like it or not.
“Teacher bye bye. Teacher bye bye. Tommy want mama. Volucris go home,” Tommy stammered as his punches and kicks pounded onto me. “Tommy, please behave. Your peers are already afraid of you! If you don’t behave, I am going to leave you too! Now stop crying!” He cried louder. “Now listen,” all these struggling is starting to annoy me, “Listen!” Finally he halted. “The teachers have something to tell us.” One teacher looked at me; her eyes terrified with full of questions. How do you know? She asked me in her stare.
They exchanged glances, each not willing to deliver the death news. “Volucris, Tommy, I have something to tell you,” the principal sounded, “Your parents are not coming to pick you tonight. They met an accident this morning and are unable to make through it. I have called up one orphanage I know well, they will come to pick you at seven tonight.” This is the news that I was waiting. It was well delivered.
Tommy’s silence echoed in the room.
There were a few words he can comprehend: Not. Coming. To. Pick. You.
There is only me who knows that he is leaving this instance based on pure impetuous.
“I want mama. I want papa.”
“Volucris wear shoe, go home. Go home. Go home.”
Dashing after him, I put on his shoes and unlocked the gate. The teachers tried to stop us but I pushed them away. One. We are both out of the house.
Once Tommy ran in front of me, I returned to my original form and flew away. His steps stopped when I am no longer beside him. “Volucris?” I hid behind the trees to watch. Tommy, if you don’t behave, I am going to leave you too… my words echoed in his head.
His directionless search reminded me of the struggle of his parents when they were surrounded by the ignited vehicle. Their scream, morn and despair gaze looked exactly the same. If it wasn’t his parents’ strong will to live, I wouldn’t have heard their scream in the wind and flew there to rescue them in time. I knew it was hard but I made them promise not to spoil Tommy anymore in exchange for their lives. If promises are broken, I am allowed to take away their lives again, with no mercy.
“I want Volucris! I behave, don want bye bye Volucris!” his voice already course from shouting too much, that was quick to have him realize this, “Don want bye bye Volucris! Tommy behave! Tommy good boy!” He sat on the ground crying, his legs already weak. Seeing this poor boy alone, strangers began to approach him. I have to appear now. “Volucris!” he shouted once he saw me. Tommy coughed until he fell down. With grace, I kissed my little brother’s forehead and stared into his red eyes. Still wet. “Volucris go home…” After this hour, he is no longer my brother.
The day was turning orangey with thick cloud linings, perfect for my camouflage. “Now, Tommy has promised me to be a good boy. Let’s find papa and mama,” I said. Cute Tommy dozed off on my back, too tired from crying. Am I a little cruel? I smiled. One thing I love about children is their pure heart. Every fairy tale comes through in their big world. However, every villain can also penetrate their soft heart and paint them black. But, their hearts can always be corrected whenever they make mistakes for they have no ego and pride. I enjoyed correcting Tommy.
Finally, we have reached the hospital his parents were in. I waited for little Tommy to open his eyes. The day has reached night time but my flames are more than enough to light the whole hospital garden. His rounded eyes were something I can never forget for this century – cute.
“Volucris bird!” he shouted in amazement. Shh! This can be our little secret. I hushed him, tickling him. Then, I sent Tommy directly to his parents through the window as they have already seen my true form.
He cried after knowing that I am not following him. But I gave him my words. I will come back to visit him every week if he keep his words to behave. And he did! From that day onwards, Tommy shares his toys. He stops hitting people unreasonably. He stops screaming for nothing. And he begins to have friends.
Sadly, time passes too fast for a human being...
Tommy Swift passed away peacefully in his sleep at eighty-six. All of his friends and family attended his funeral, including the mysterious me. He was a successful man loved by many. I gave my last bow to him secretly after all lights were out so that I was alone. May he rest in peace…
Aye, immortal I am, yet nobody knows. Only the wise ones canst tell, as I never told.