The Firebird V

Body 001


A long time passed. After a while, I raised my eyes to the window – but of course the window was no longer a window but a mirror. There I was confronted once again with the strange reflection of myself. Immediately the pain in my chest flared up and caused me to cry out in desperation. Clearer and clearer grew the image in the glass. I could see that the princess’s robe was open in front, revealing a deep wound in her heart, and I saw that she, too, wept. But she did not seem to weep as one without hope.

Perched alongside the mirror was the small gray bird. In the depths of his blue eyes burned two tiny, clear, red flames. He looked at me, and the warm, comforting glow welled up in my heart, though curiously the pain did not subside in the least. On the contrary, it remained steady, mingling strangely with the warmth.

But the oddest of all these odd things was yet to come. For out of the corner of my eye I now saw lying on the floor beside me the form of a body, dark and still as the night outside. When I stooped down to examine the face, I was astonished to find that it was my own. At this discovery, the warmth and pain swelled and mingled in my breast once again. But I was not unprepared this time.

Though I could not recall the passage, I felt certain that something I’d read in the little book had forewarned me of this: I was dead, and yet I lived. At the thought, I laughed out loud. So hard did I laugh that the tears ran down my face. Or perhaps I should say that I wept hysterically. Which, I cannot tell.

The little gray bird cocked his head at me and nodded solemnly. Then he sprang from the window sill and flew three times around the room. At the end of the last circuit he made straight for the mirror which had once been my bedroom window. To my amazement, he passed clean through. Without thinking, I bent down, lifted the body that lay on the floor, and carried it after him.

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