Phoenix Rising (2)

The months that followed were fraught with tension as we studied for our A levels, but

we rarely spent a day without seeing each other, even just for a few minutes. When

making our plans for university, we decided that we would study near each other if

possible, but not necessarily in the same city. This would give us both a little

independence, but also mean we could continue to see each other frequently, which

was a priority for both of us. Chris’ parents were a little dubious about this, suggesting

to Chris that he go where his studies took him, not where I was, but he told them that

I was the most important person in his life, and he wanted to be near me. I think my

parents were slightly amused, deciding that time would tell what was important and

what wasn’t. In the event, Chris went to Edinburgh to Veterinary college and I went to

Stirling University to study English.
About three years later when I had just finished my finals, I got back to my flat to find

a message waiting for me. One of my flatmates had taken a telephone message from

Chris’s dad, telling me to get to Edinburgh quickly as Chris had been involved in an car

accident. He was critical. Flinging a few essentials together I had driven to Edinburgh,

my mind in a haze. I’m not sure how I managed to drive. My mind was all over the

place. My thoughts were so erratic and my body seemed to be in it’s own world,

disconnected from me, yet somehow I had switched to auto pilot and was driving

seemingly as normal. Looking back now, I realise that couldn’t have been the case, but

no one was going to convince me otherwise, or stop me getting to Edinburgh. At one

point, I started to cry, and was having real difficulty seeing the road. I decided to stop

for a moment or two, and as luck would have it, a layby appeared out of nowhere. I

wiped my eyes with a tissue, blew my nose and then looked out of the window. As I

gazed up at the skies, I felt my stomach leap. The clouds were moving fast, too fast. I

knew that as there was no wind to speak of, yet they were moving at great speed, and

in all directions. This was strange too, but I hardly had time to reflect on this before I

became aware that the clouds were forming a pattern, no an object. It was a phoenix. I

watched in awe. I must be dreaming this. I must be in some kind of altered state. I

blinked, pinched my arm, shook my head, but the vision remained. I stared at it, and

realised that not only was it a bird made of clouds but the bird was red and gold, not

so much deep colours but definite tints. It was amazing. Then as quickly as it

appeared, it dissipated, just like the smoke had all those years ago, and then, nothing.

Just normal blue grey sky and clouds.
Stunned I sat silently for a moment or two, contemplating this experience; trying to

make sense of it. Then I realised that the tension I had felt before parking the car had

eased and I now felt more able to cope. I remembered that the Phoenix had made me

feel safe and hopeful for the future last time I saw it, and I was sure that was what I

was meant to fell now. Chris would be alright. All I had to do was get there safely and

be with him.
I got to hospital and found that Chris had been moved off the critical list and the staff

were fairly confident he would recover quickly. He did, and returned to college two

months later in fine fettle. I didn’t tell him about the phoenix. I don’t know why not.

Somehow it just didn’t seem necessary, but for the second time in a few years the

Phoenix had given me the strength to go on and believe in the future.
Two years later we were married, and two years after that I became pregnant with our

first child. Chris had become a partner in his father’s practice so we had moved back to

our home town, to the relief of our parents, especially when they knew they were about

to become grandparents. Then disaster struck. Without warning, my baby decided to

make a premature entrance into the world. He was very small but proved himself strong

and survived. However, I struggled after a long labour and became very ill, having

caught some virus shortly after the birth. I remember being in a feverous state and

unaware of who was with me, or what was happening. One night, apparently a week

after our son was born, I awoke to find Chris at my bedside. He was stroking my hand

and smiling down at me. ‘Hello. You’ve come back. I knew you would. The phoenix told

me!’ Too weak to reply, I just smiled, having been given the reassurance I needed. I

knew I would survive.
A few days later, Chris sat on the bed with his arm around my shoulders as I cradled

our first born.
‘I didn’t want to register him until you were well enough to tell me what you would like

to call him, but I think there is only one name we can call him, don’t you?
We smiled at each other. Chris told me that on the night that I had recovered he had

gone for a walk in a nearby park. He had been sitting at the side of my bed for nearly a

week and felt the need to get some fresh air once in a while. On this occasion, he had

wandered further than usual and ended up in one of the city parks. The park had a lake,

and on a cold November evening, there was a heavy mist hanging over the still water.

It was lit by an ornamental street lamp and the light caught his attention as he

approached the lake. He had stopped to look and found a bench nearby. As he absently

watched the lake, his mind back at the hospital with me, he suddenly felt a heat. The

cold air around him was replaced by warm air, travelling slowly passed him as if

someone were holding an electric fan to his face. Slowing he broke from his reverie and

became aware that the warm air was visible as red and gold strands of mist, which was

wafting lazily around the lake making beautiful patterns. Suddenly, just as he realised

that he was seeing something extraordinary, the water on the lake became ruffled and

disturbed and to his amazement, the coloured mist appeared to organise itself into a

shape, a form which he knew he’d seen before. It was the phoenix, rising from the

waters of the lake. Chris said it was spectacular. Fire and water, joined in a wonderful

performance which he suspected was for his viewing only. It lasted no longer than thirty

seconds or so, and then, like my spectre, it was gone, lost in the air around it. Chris

knew that I would recover, and sure enough, later that night, this was the case. I then

told him how I had seen the Phoenix after his accident. We agreed that out son

couldn’t be called anything other than Phoenix.


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