Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Fire Bird On A Cloudy Rock © by Irina Serban

(LISTEN to the story read by the author ⬆)

One night, I witnessed a unique world. I don't know if I had the eyes wide shut, and I was dreaming, or tightly open, and I was letting my imagination stray, but the sure thing is that I saw this:

Inside the core of a leaping flame a whole world made of dew reeled its existence. There lived some strange creatures—strange for us, humans, who consider their familiar surroundings normal. I'm sure if those creatures had seen us, they would have laughed at our awkwardness. That night, inside that flame, a council was being held. It seemed quite amazing to me how, in a world of water, some of the creatures had wings of fire. On the other hand, some other appeared to be crippled, wingless, or with only a stump left where the wings used to be. Up on a cloudy rock, a stately fire creature spread its wings making the whole gathering fall into a deep, sullen silence, and the whole world catch light as if the sun rose in the middle of it.

"I'm looking at you, wingless beings, you, who lower your heads and replace your smile with sadness, and I’m wondering: How can a Fire Bird lose its wings? Isn't it born from lightning, isn’t it supposed to rise from ashes, to grow wings over and over again? Should we let the dew devour us all?

It is then that I noticed the dew forming heavy waterfalls, which would furiously flow washing away some of the fire creatures. What seemed to be their serene surroundings, sometimes turned into their worst nightmare. Some would grow wings again and would spring back into being luminous, others would stay down, crawling in mud, whereas some other would become grey, and dull, and wingless. I couldn't help thinking that, maybe, you experienced something similar, too. I know I did quite a few times.

I’m sure you know that elated emotion when you're full of enthusiasm, and you feel like soaring on invisible wings. Suddenly, a storm like the ones in that water world washes away your wish to fly, or someone armed with a pair of scissors comes and cuts away your wings. And this seems to be happening repeatedly whenever the elation of flight takes a hold on you, and you forget how the fall feels on your wings. For a while you keep growing pair after pair of wings until one day, when strangely enough, there are no storms or people with scissors in their hands, but you don't feel like growing wings again. You walk on the firm ground carrying your dead soul in your arms. You look at it, see it lifeless, you know what it needs to be alive again, and yet, you prefer to crawl.

I think that was what happened to those creatures, too, and all the more so, I grew interested in what the one on the cloudy rock had to say. Maybe it could teach us, humans, a secret!

“You used to be beings of light, of fire. Your mere presence showed everyone the passion of life. Now, look at you! All there is left is the tar of your own darkness. I won’t tell you you’re wrong. Instead, I will definitely tell you to choose. Don’t let the darkness and circumstances choose you! 

Any moment of your life is the right moment for you to go up, or to stay down covered in filth and mud. You know what’s down there. You feel it on your wings of fire right now! Why should you go back up? What’s up there, you ask? Maybe, the chance to fall and crush, but also the chance to soar and see things differently even if only for an instant.

You know, the seed feeds on the darkness of the earth, but it does so only because it wishes to spring into light. It doesn’t dwell on the comfort of darkness. What if it were afraid of the unseen? How many crops would be lost? How many flowers would fail to give colour to the Earth?

Don’t let the events of your life feed on your darkness and feed the darkness inside you, darkness that’s inherent to all of us. It’s here,” the Fire Bird said pointing with its wing towards its heart,  “it’s there, inside you, because otherwise, right now, you wouldn’t be grey beings, wingless beings, fireless beings. You’d still burn if that darkness didn’t exist. But that is not important! What is important is for you to choose! Choose if you let the water swallow you, or if you learn to swim.”

Something moved inside those creatures for all of them raised their heads towards the sky, and in doing so, a small ember lit itself inside their chests, and flames started spreading all around their bodies until wings grew back. I know they must have missed the magic of flight as we all do when we fall. That ember inside their chests stood proof that they never forgot their meaning. They were only tired and needed the words of the Fire Bird on the cloudy rock to turn into luminous beings again.

Every now and then, I myself need its words, too. Don’t you?

Glad you joined me in this world of water where fire burns gently. Let’s keep our wings!

© Copyright Irina Serban. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sleeping On A Cloud © by Irina Serban

Time must have fallen somewhere, in a precipice, and lost itself, for I open up my eyes in the morning, I blink, and there comes the night! Where are the hours?

The skies must have turned upside down, for, today, I’ve gathered a whole pile of moon shards from my hair. Have I rested my head on a cloud? And what's that golden dust on my bare feet? Oh, it must be the imploded stars!

The oceans must have turned themselves into cascading waters, for I hear them rumbling whenever I think about them. Can I change their reality? Can I make them flow and fall? I think I can! Here it is: one falling relentlessly from the rim of a nebula!

And what about the trees? Are they still here? Yes, here they are, with their roots firmly grounded into the sky. They are the pillars of my castle, and that bird's nest is my favourite dreaming spot.

This is a rather upside down world, and I'm still learning my way through it. Or is it that I'm flying?

There is only one world where time does not exist, where one can get entangled in the moon rays and step on stars, where oceans can fall cascading on perilous slopes, and where trees grow roots in the skies. Imagination you said? Dreams you said?

It is what we want it to be! Why should we answer all questions? Some are better to be left as such.

Life is the big question! How much of it is there on the cloud where you’re resting your head?

© Copyright Irina Serban. All rights reserved

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Imprisoned Moon © by Irina Serban

“There are wounds that never heal!”

“You have to learn how to live while bleeding!”

“There are circles that can never be cut!”

“You have to learn how to live freely while being imprisoned! For above all, there is that ounce of living that makes all the difference.”

The stone circle protected her. She wanted to protect the Moon. The obscurity that ate it always disturbed her. Not out of some weird, unexplained superstition, but because all her senses became disproportionate at such times. Shadow and light, torment and peace mingled until forming the primordial chaos.

She held high the torch as if trying to give a little bit of its light to the Moon that slowly turned paler and thinner. She couldn't feed the darkness anymore! She needed light even if as feeble as that of the Moon!

"What do you see when you look at it?" the stones whispered again. "Do you see freedom? Do you see it gliding, pulling the dark curtain embroidered with stars and think: 'That's Freedom!'? Do you long for what it owns?”

The Moon was the prisoner of its own fate: without light but that stolen from the Sun, without the greatness and splendour of the stars, yet detaining a hidden power capable of moving worlds.

"Do you think it is aware of its strength?"

No, it wasn't! It did what the invisible threads of the Universe pulled it into doing. Everything was an illusion!  We put the burden of our beliefs on the shoulders of the Moon’s destiny. For it was free within its confined circle exactly because it did what it was destined to do without pondering on its greatness, or usefulness, or miserable fate. It was free!

"I can be free, too!"

"Yes, you can!"

Everything was an illusion! A painter puts a splash of colour on the blank canvas and then, adding different nuances over it, he transforms it into a fluttering wing. The feathers are not there, the wind is not beneath it, but you still see them, and you seem to feel the wind and watch the bird fly on the canvas. Illusion! As illusive as her try to cut that circle that strangled her, maddened her. Nothing helped: prayers, rites, wishes uttered in the middle of the night! That circle snapped back in place every time she thought she won over it. It was indestructible! She couldn't cut it! There was always something pulling her back in the middle of it. As the Moon, she needed to live freely inside it. It was vaster than she thought, filled with possibilities. It could actually feed her freedom, for it taught her how to fly in order to surpass its confinement.

She looked at the Moon reappearing in all its reddish splendour. She put out the torch and smiled.

“There are wounds that never heal, and circles that can never be cut. We are not the same as before after stepping inside our circle, so, we lose our ability to live outside it. We find something else, something greater, for a circle has no beginning and no end, and it is as wide as we let our souls expand. There are no limitations! It’s only the magic of the circle we closed and allowed to imprison us. That magic can teach us to live freely even if bleeding. If we set it free, it sets us free!

So amazing what an imprisoned Moon can teach you!"

© Copyright Irina Serban. All rights reserved

Friday, 20 March 2015

Isa - The Ice Sorceress (fragment) © by Irina Serban

"They’re like nestlings fluttering their useless wings, screeching as they’re waiting eagerly for their mother return. They’re helpless, prisoners of their nests. Their bellies are rumbling with hunger, hunger that transforms them in monsters. They feed on me! Unfortunately, lately, I cannot feed myself! I cannot put back the pieces of flesh they've been tearing apart. I stopped believing! Not in magic, in rituals, but in what I preach. I stopped believing that what I do really helps them. I don't even know how to explain it to you because every word is as absurd as my feelings. I feel like an empty, abandoned vessel! I hear only the echo of my own chaotic thoughts. I drag myself each day from one place to another. I don't know where I'm going and why. I go where I’m called. I don’t own myself anymore! They became my masters! Here it is! This is the closest description I could find to make you understand what's eating my soul alive."

The fire burnt, and in a game of shadow and light, it continuously drew shapes on the walls of his home. As usually, he would sit by her right and watch closely the lines of her face. As usually, she would talk gazing into the fire as if all she needed was not his presence but only a silent place where to unravel her feelings.

"It's just the curse of your name!” he said. But that curse is also your blessing, and you know it! You already know that when ice surrounds you, crashes your bones, you have nothing left to do but dive deep in the freezing waters of your soul. You did it many times! Each time, you came out even more luminous! You’re perfectly aware of that!”

Isa held her breath for an instant. Ulfr always knew how to make her discover new things as he reminded her what she had already learnt. This time, instead, nothing seemed to touch the dark waters of her inner chaos and make way for light.

"Perhaps I'm just tired! Or scared!"

"Of what?"

"Of humans! Of their darkness! Of their pretence! Of their continuous running, of their not listening, of their shallowness. You know I was there, too! You know I helped the darkness of some prevail over the light of others. I saw myself as a hired warrior, a warrior of the unseen with powers over the unspoken. And I did it: I took my payment, and I didn't care! One day, when the same ice strangled me, I cried heaps of snow and spread winds of regrets and despair. I was becoming them!"

"And now, are you afraid of your own light?"

"I'm afraid I can't fight their darkness!"

Ulfr caught Isa’s gaze and looked deep down as if touching the abyss where she felt so lost. He rose, put his hand on her shoulder and said briefly: "That's not your war!"

She rose, too, understanding that their conversation reached the end even if she felt the need to pour out more of herself. She lowered her gaze into the flames of the fire that crackled unaware of its power over humans.

"Just be good, and let that light of yours shine!” he added heading towards the door. What if that fire you're staring at so much would say one day: 'What's the use? I cannot warm them enough! I cannot cook their food as I should!', and died out? We are the ones who throw wood on it to keep it lit. We are the ones who throw snow on it to put it out."

She finally dared raising her gaze onto the old man's face. She could tell by heart how the wrinkles of his face drew his traits. Yet, every time she looked at him, a cold sensation crawled up her spine at the thought that, one day, that door would never open again, that fire wouldn’t be lit again. One day, he would answer the call of Odin and leave her lonely in a world that only needed her, and in which, she was not allowed to need anyone.

The gelid wind called her outside. She smiled at the sound of the squeaking hinges of the old wooden door, and at the usual Ulfr’s words upon closing it behind her: “I'd better grease those old forsaken hinges!”. And he never did it!

© Copyright Irina Serban. All rights reserved 

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