A Song to the Siren with Parisianne Modert’s Latest Entry

The Old Guitarist - Pablo Picasso
The Old Guitarist - Pablo Picasso

A flamenco dirge finds its voice in Parisianne Modert’s latest entry.

The Sad Lady of an Andalusian Night

by Parisianne Modert

 

“Reaper Trainees, please welcome Alejandro, Reaper Extraordinaire,” I heard.

An elderly man with skin weathered by sun, wind and sea water entered the room from behind me.  My impression of Alejandro was Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist” slouching unevenly towards a raised stage.  After laboring to position his bent over figure on the stage stool with guitar across his left knee Alejandro nodded downward.   The back lights dimmed leaving only a silvery spot light on his face.  His sad, fingered, twelve beat soleá and dark amber eyes rose beginning his morose lesson.

In 1589 lived a lady named Sayyida of light red hair, skin of pale cream and large vacant, blue topaz eyes.  Her duende spirit of flamenco, tapped stair steps, waving arms led us spiraling upward towards the full moon lit tower atop the woeful stone castle by the sea.  She paused at balcony’s edge, high above the jagged rocked waters of the Mediterranean port.  ‘Come home to me my love,’ she screamed to her husband, Jalid, a Moorish sailor.

Sayyida’s shriek, love desperate for her Jalid, possessed a pending death chill, black as his starless night skin.  She attempted to conjure the uncharted waters, he had sailed bringing her gold earrings and treasures, to return him home from the seas and lands of exotic adventure.  Jalid’s lovemaking with Sayyida had been an untamed passion dangerous as a typhoon’s whirlpool.

Sayyida wailed over the balcony’s edge, her tortured third-eye sight seeing Jalid drowning.  Silvery dagger moon beams sliced her insane, pale face, tears flying sideways from the incoming winds.  She cursed within delusions to the endless, heartless waves accepting her love’s death.  Crying out ‘Jalid,’  Sayyida threw herself from the balcony to reach Jalid’s next life, red hair blowing upwards behind her until knifed by the jagged boulders, thrown lifeless about by the sea without their souls’ reunion.”

Alejandro silenced his nylon strings, the room becoming death’s dark blindness.

“Sayyida refused reaper help as is her right and became trapped forever to repeat her Andalusian sad lady, full moon cyclical suicide based on love’s obsessive tides, again and again.”

19 comments

  1. Kenneth Weene

    I found the story within the story lovely, but wish it were written in a manner that worked more with the flamenco music that it implied.

    As for the larger story, the training session aspect, I didn’t see how that helped the lovely folktale it framed. Do you need a reaper to give meaning to a ghost story? I think not. I think this would work better were the performer given more play with his guitar as if to break up the story into verses. Then the music would become the frame. It is, after all, the repetitive nature of the eternal story of love and loss that needs framing.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    Putting aside that this flash fiction piece is a well trimmed postage stamp out of my first novel written in early 2011, I wish to clarify some points as to why the entry is as it is. This particular frame is more than allowing a witness to bring you the reader into the room and to magically change the impression of fiction into non-fiction. Alejandro as Reaper Extraordinaire is the frame of the story not the music. The reaper school in Purgatory is the physical setting where his story and experience are mounted only. Alejandro is both your wiser from lesson learned, story teller, but only the frame upon this wall in time storyline. Sayyida is the painting within his frame. The soleá allows you the reader to experience Sayyida’s inner psyche, which includes her impressions of her Jalid, made tragic by both her right to free will and by her full moon lunacy.

    Traditional soleá has a vocal whining telling a mournful story. The music intention is subtext to the mental state and movements of Sayyida on the night Alejandro tries to intervene, in his early reaper days, to break the cyclical suicide that Sayyida has been completing for centuries already.

    A traditional soleá as opposed to the later developed cante has outburst and is an uneven set of crescendo and very subdued emotions. The Sayyida is written to sway, to have outburst and be as uneven as a soleá vocal and Alejandro is written to be the 12 beat pattern equal to how he walks to the stage.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Ms. Brinkman for you story, your kind comment on my story and your radio broadcasting skills and attention to the value of A Word With You Press as well as our Editor-in-Chief. I am a fan of yours.

  3. Parisianne Modert says:

    I am recommending to the readers of this message that they listen to Rocio Segura singing a soleá to comprehend how powerfully morose and colorful they are. I am currently listening to Rocia Segura sing PEÑA EL MORATO with Antonio de Patrocinio on guitar. The video is available on You Tube. It will help the reader of my story understand the emotions that Sayyida is experiencing which leads to such a drastic act as she commits. Duende is perhaps the most difficult Spanish word to translate; although the emotions of a soleá are just as difficult to grasp outside of the Andalusian part of Espania, but well worth the effort. If you cannot find this video elsewhere you may view it on my FaceBook page.

  4. Thornton Sully

    I just returned to the land of the double entundra and can now see the stories posted in my absence by Morgan. It’s great to see so many returning friends! I love the sober mood of this tale. I particularly like the expression “love’s obsessive tides.” How often the lines between passion and obsession are blurred. Very professional piece of writing.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I am humbled by your kind appraisal of my story dear Editor-In-Chief. In every writing which captures a soul there is a psyche trace mark expression which ink stains the writer’s innocence or guilt be it well or poorly hidden. You, dear sir, found two words which describe my guilt for which I will sadly be remembered by my Sayyida and the scene of my heart’s crime in the third word which seals my fate as a sad lady without a song to offer.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Derek. On this 4th of July (and on others of the past to be quite honest), I celebrate British Independence Day from the ingrate, hide behind walls, savage colonists of over two centuries ago. Citizens of today, on this wrong side of the pond, will listen to the Boston Pop (some of us prefer a good crumpet to a trumpet) celebrating that their ancestors polluted Boston Harbour with perfectly decent tea while dressed as the culture they had and would later continue to steal lands from. Of course they could only count by saying, “One if by land and two if by sea.”, before riding around on horseback in the middle of the night shouting to wake their neighbors. Who does that? Really?

      So today, I will wave the red, white and blue of the Union Jack and proudly pronounce in fervert prayer, “Long live the Queen”. Thank you for your kind praise of my story.

  5. Parisianne Modert says:

    I wanted my readers to understand that Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, España where I pictured this sad story as occurring. This historic city is literally a port on the Mediterranean Sea and a rich part of the Andalusian coastal folklore. There actually is a museum in Picasso’s honor located there.

    “The Old Artist” painted by Picasso between late 1903 and early 1904 can be viewed at The Art Institute of Chicago. It is part of his “Blue Period”. The Art Institute of Chicago describes this work as “Picasso worked with a monochromatic palette, flattened forms, and tragic, sorrowful themes.”

    It is suggested on Wikipedia that this painting of an old, blind man in rags playing in the streets of Barcelona (Catalan – not part of the Andalusian region) was influenced by El Greco, Picasso’s own bad health due to poverty and the suicide of a dear friend of Picasso.

    Art often is about tragedy which is why the painting is important as subtext to the story.

  6. A facility with language reflects an excellent writer comfortable with her craft. Your story draws the reader in and he wants to remain to relish each sentence, hoping for more. I enjoyed this immensely!

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Sal. If allowed expect the next ghost of Alejandro before the midnight strikes July 16th.

      A 350 word flash fiction piece to me has to be treated as more poetry than prose in that every word matters. As a devotee to Sylvia Plath, I will remind writers of her thought that poetry cannot afford a toothbrush, because it can ill afford any excess of word.

      While a very valuable rule in novel writing is to trim 20%, I believe that flash fiction is best when trimming about 80%. This story began as 1500 words and my other, yet to be published story, was about 1800 words. Flash fiction is served best if it chooses only the finest cuts, so it can paste them back to the reader with both a satisfying taste to savor, while leaving them wishing more.

      I appreciate that you as a quality writer have expressed such a discerning critique of my work and work ethic.

  7. Tiffany V says:

    The framework of “Reaper Training”, check. The consideration of Spanish guitar, check. Flamenco flourish imagery with tongue twister tale bearing speed, check. No need to defend the story. It’ll stand with no help.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Tiffany. From the photo of you singing, I remembered how well you sang, “Black Coffee” for us. That is a nearly impossible song to phrase well, but you did as are your stories offered to us. I remember when I first met you that you had poetry with spot on timing and accents which again is a proof of your musical and lyrical phrasing and emotional timings.

      Let me say that I write about lives I wish I could have lived, but haven’t, because my own life has been so bizarre that it couldn’t pass as non-fiction. I offer no defense, but attempt to be understood as a multitude of contradictory layers with university stacks’ amount of research before releasing them onto the cyber page. I should enter a plea of guilty of passion in the 1st degree and an accessory to obsessive love in the 2nd degree. My passion is to write and to confess my romantic obsessions of love blessed and cursed, requited and unrequited, consummated and suicidal.

      My characters are often marginalized by their majority society. The above atypical story is a stretch for me by employing symbolism, subtext and culture under appreciated by much of Spain and the world. In this story and the one yet to be printed, I bring the word, “duende” and the culture of the Andalusia to life.

      Why would I do this? The reason is that I cannot be understood without one misunderstood word, “duende”. Some say “duende” is the hardest word to define in Spanish. I tried in these two stories.

  8. Diane Cresswell says:

    Wow I found it – how I missed this… oh well old age. Again a spectacular way with words with my imagination taking leaps with the lovely and sad Sayyida to the depths of sorrow, to the reaper storyteller and the sadness of the tale told. A true ghost story. Exquisite.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Diane. The “Again” in this story is the suicide over and over upon each full moon from 1589 to present and onward. This is a tale of what obsession is when love is inescapable and tragically cannot be requitted again. I’ve been called obsessive by two different women recently, one I evidently will actually love for life without any regret, but a lot of reverence. In the other case my feelings of love disappeared as the English would say in a fortnight (two weeks) for how false the woman turned out to be. It was a rebound which never arrived thank goodness. So I am guilty on the first count and dismissed as a fool on the second.

      Sayyida loves her Jalid more than her own life or even the next life time offering, so she is trapped in the only cycle acceptable to her. The moon has a cycle, the climbing and falling over and over has a cycle, the 12 beats of a solea is unique within flamenco, but repeats. Even a woman’s cycle is approximately consistent. For the story to hold to “Again” the cycle had to be chosen and the rescue attempt to break her cycles had to be refused.

      Sayyida is lost in a love without future hope, so why did I create Sayyida? I am Sayyida only of a different century, a different culture and some might argue that I am still among the living, but perhaps I am a lady ghost, mad in love throwing her story over a balcony to crash upon your minds again and again.

  9. Parisianne Modert says:

    Our journey together has now ended awaiting judgment which is also the nature of the three stories I have personally entered in “Again”. Both Alejandro and Charon assist the dead to their judgment as their work assignment owing alligiance to God and Pluto respectfully.

    I hope all of you enjoyed this quest as much as I have to bring the written art of prose and poetry to a world sorely needing the voice of artists. Let the judgment from these voices commence.

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