In Fire He Shall Rise

Author: Amanda Hard

Scarlet and orange leaves, chips of autumnal tree paint, fell on dry grass as the phoenix in my bird bath lifted his tired eyes.

“Damned,” he squawked, before flashing bright white, a blur of sparks and feathers of gray ash that floated to the ground like an early snow.

He’ll rebirth in a few hours under the ginkgo tree, in a soft nest of banana yellow fans and pink fruit that smells of feces and decay. He’ll drag his top-heavy, round-breasted chick body over to the concrete bath and peck drops of water and forgotten seed. I’ll sit in my chair watching the rising of Orion’s stars as they mark out the approach of winter, wondering where the phoenix roosts and what he does in the darkness.

Last year, as he burned, he took out a cardinal, its brilliance obliterated in a blinding instant of heat; its bird thoughts extinguished, leaving behind nothing but a sour, sulfurous odor that remained in the leaves for weeks. The bath stayed empty that year. Even the pigeons found more cheerful places to be.

Once, I caught him in the early hours of his renewal. I thought I saw him watching me from under a bush, his forward-facing bird eyes unblinking. I crawled slowly closer, on aching knees and calloused hands, and rested my chin in the cool dirt to look at him. To really look at him.

Curiously, where his beak should have been was the same dead nose hole as on my own skull. In that moment, before his regeneration began in full, I saw us reflected in each other’s eyes, mirrored in perpetuity, an infinite regression of one image: he the chick and me the old man, nothing but flesh-wrapped skeletons, one and the same. The fluff of down he wore now, before his adult feathers could come in, was my skin, row after row of soft wrinkles in paper-thin tissue. Both pairs of our eyes were hard and cold, the fire of our passions tempered by the repetition of years.

I told myself one day I would fill the basin with gasoline. End this stupid seasonal ritual. Maybe I’ll do it tonight, standing quietly by in the early morning with a cigar, my own spent years before me as a shield. Burn the little bastard’s soul before he can flaunt his youth in the brilliant lights of his self-immolation again.

Yes, I’ll burn him tonight, I decide. While he’s still a chick. Then I can go back to feeding the blue-gray pigeons who dumbly bob their way across the yard to the bath, as constant as the seasons; hatching and dying, getting old and fat, all of us sharing the same puddle of memory in a shallow concrete basin.


  1. Hari Navarro

    Beautifully grim and yet so true and assessable and insightful. Lovely work, really impressive.

  2. rjerbacher

    Flamboyant decay. I’m not really sure if I should be happy or sad about that, but it’s a lovely story.

  3. Malcolm

    I love how the story built up the melancholy tone. Almost like aging.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Random Story :

  • Meeting Vanya

    Author : Viktor Kuprin October 30, 1961 – Five aircraft …

The Past

365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.

The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.

Flash Fiction

"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."

Kathy Kachelries
Founding Member


We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.

Voices of Tomorrow

Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.

If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact