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She stretched her neck, searching the star-pocked heavens, and regretted the movement. She knew what the pain and stiffness and exhaustion meant; her time was coming fast.

She allowed a tear to fall, heard the hiss as it touched her leg. Felt the relief it brought to her skin. She would leave so many tasks unfinished; knowledge unlearned; treasures undiscovered.  She curled inside the soft down, willing sleep to overtake her.

Her children would not mourn her passing. They were gone from her in more than body, though she had tried to keep them close. They left as soon as they were able, though she wanted to teach them all she’d learned, save them the pain of mistakes, the pain of learning to fend for themselves. But regret was useless.

She allowed weariness to overcome her; sank into deep sleep.

When dawn broke, she knew it would be her last day. She surveyed the small room that now comprised her world, sighed, and resigned herself. The first soothing flush of heat rose along her boney legs. She craned her neck and looked once more out the glass ceiling, reveling in the growing light of a new day.

Sparks flickered around her, catching onto each other until they burst into flame. Pain enveloped her. She threw her head back and with one final screech, the fire consumed her.

A woman entered the room, looked to the pedestal that held the enormous nest. Her mother had told her what to expect. Amongst the ash and cinders, a tiny, plumed head emerged. She went to the baby Phoenix, brushed the ashes of its former self from rainbow wings, dripped fresh water into its open beak.