Nora had not seen her grandmother in over a decade. Her parents had moved so far away visits were inconvenient, and were postponed to "next year", until it was too late.
The conversation with and between the rest of the family was awkward, punctuated by sobs and too-long hugs. She turned her attention to the knicknacks around the room, and the memories the familiar one awoke. A box-frame holding a single feather caught her eye.
The phoenix feather. I remember. It was magic. Now she recognised it for a simple red feather with glued-on glitter.
After some careful negotiation with her father and his sisters, she took it to the funeral, to place it in her grandmother's coffin.
A year later, and in the second trimester, she stood in a crafts shop, in one hand goose feathers, dyed, in the other a small jar of duo-colour metallic paint, red and gold, contemplating magic in children's eyes.
Caor decided that as sorry sights went, a wet phoenix ranked pretty high. The specimen on his windowsill was soaked so badly its feathers had turned black, and puffed up to wait out the rain. The metal capsule on one long leg identified it as a messenger bird, and the fact that it had been employed during the rainy season identified its owner as someone with more pride than sense.
After spilling a handful of grains next to his uninvited guest, Caor went to the serious business of speculating who might have sent this bird to whom, and what it might be carrying. Deciding that it might be profitable to know, he caught the bird - who twisted its neck to continue eating, must have been underway a while - and removed the capsule. Deciding that trapping the bird in a basket was a bad idea, since, once dry, it might set the reed on fire to escape, he turned his full attention to the scroll. It was blank on both sides. Puzzling.
It could be an error. Or a very, very bad sign.
Caor put it back exactly as he thought it had been and performed a simple ritual that he hoped would erase any soul-trace of him opening the capsule.
The phoenix, now fuller and more happily tired, nipped him in protest about being grabbed again, but the capsule went back without issue. He left the bird to fluff up and preen indignantly. It showed some bright, dry down between the still dark contour feathers.
Caor left it alone as it steamed and slowly turned orange, and hoped the rain would end soon.
I wanted to draw something small and cute. Many thanks to Mutt for the idea, including that for the trail of smoke.
2.5 by 3.5 inces, meaning it's an ATC/ACEO.
Stabilo fineliners for the bird?s outlines, Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens for the base colour of the twogs, Copic Ciao for the base colouring of the bird and sky, colour pencils for the plumage and glow and shading, white ink for highlights.