Ashley was surprised when the stone she pulled out of the treasure chest appeared to be nothing but a brick of charcoal; but not nearly as surprised as she was when it crumbled apart in her hand, forming a pile of ash that sifted easily through her fingers.
She was about to reach again when she heard a voice in her mind. "You have a burning fire in your heart. You are able to rise above adversity and become stronger and better than you were before. For one like you, rebirth is as natural as life. Now go... arise once more!"
No sooner had the words ended when suddenly the ash burst into an inferno of fire, igniting everything around her. The flames burned with an immeasurable heat all around her. Ashley FELT the heat. She FELT every degree of it. And yet, she did not feel pain. Even as the flames began to rise up her body, she felt in no way threatened by it. In fact, she felt empowered! She felt at a loss for what to do until she heard the voice again "It is alright. Do what is natural to you."
Ashley didn't know exactly what the voice meant, but she knew what her heart was telling her. She also began to realize that the flames appeared to be waiting. Though their heat grew and grew, the flames seemed to stop at a certain point in her body; waiting for some unknown command. So, giving in to her instincts, Ashley closed her eyes and allowed the flames to consume her.
Some time later, off in the distance... People who witnessed the fire from afar would report that there was an explosion of light and the powerful cry of a bird... And just as suddenly, the fire had disappeared.
Hard to believe that the last time I drew a full body of a phoenix, it was over FIVE YEARS AGO. I think it was definitely past due for another one. I wasn't sure what to do for Ashley, but I knew it had to involve flames. And for someone who is no stranger to escape tragedy more powerful and beautiful than ever, this felt like the exact right choice. If I was even able to capture a FRACTION of the beauty I see in you, sweetie, then consider it my honor and privilege; just as it is simply to know you.
(For my dear daughter, Singstar.)