By Luca Casartelli (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( /licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The candle was almost out. It was wasteful of her to burn so many, but writing at night was her only option. During the day, even the wife of a butcher had little time to herself. They weren’t prosperous enough to hire a maid, like her brother’s wife had.

In the waning years, she found her load lighter, and she wrote more. The children were grown, and the dears were so good to their parents. At least one of them came by every day, helping out with household tasks and taking a few hours to just talk.

Then came widowhood, and instead of seeing her brood of grandchildren troop through her house every week, she found herself giving away everything she once held dear.

The boxes of stories and essays were of all sizes, hidden away in all kinds of odd places. As rooms were cleared out, anticipating her move to her daughter’s house, her boys stacked them in the drawing room for her. Late at night, she sat in her chair, reading through the words she’d once thought so profound. One page at a time, she laughed at her younger self and fed the paper into the fireplace. Every now and then, she would see a glimmer… something that, if she’d had the right words, could have been something… profound?

Soon the pages were gone, and she was comfortably settled in her room at her daughter’s house. Her daughter even had a maid, and the grandchildren loved to run even the tiniest of errands for their beloved Nana.

She gazed into the tiny, cozy fire, and the words came back to her. Those ideas she’d once had, never fully fleshed out, wafted out of the flames fully formed, dancing in front of her, begging to be captured.

She opened her gift, one her husband had made for her years ago, though it had seen little use. The writing desk he built with his own hands was not a fancy piece of furniture, but it was sturdy. Crafted with love.

And it held paper. Her daughter had made sure of that.

She waved her pen through the will-o-the-wisps, coaxing the creatures to her before dunking them in the inkwell. Willingly they swam, then leapt from her pen to the page, fully formed from where they had sat in the back of her mind all those years.

And they lived.

This short piece was written for the Write on Edge prompt: phoenix |ˈfēniks|noun (in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle. Word limit 450

My husband’s mother wrote a lot during her lifetime, but left explicit instructions to burn it all upon her death. When cancer took her, before he and I were married, he carried out her wishes even though it pained him to lose something she created.

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