OOPS! I mean incorrigible! Beyond restraint! Here she has the audacity to submit a prologue in our contest Once Upon a Time in which she herself selected the illustration and found the incredible video to accompany her entry. Is the editor-in-chief (moi) to serve no purpose at all?
I will get over it. Parisianne really sets the standard for critiques. They have depth and thought and articulation well beyond what we mortals generally have to say. And now she is demonstrating that she can create her own work as well with this lovely piece. A prologue…Where will it lead? Up, up and away, in my beautiful balloon.
And thank you, Madame, for generously contributing $50 towards funding our prizes. (Entry fee, if you are new to the site, is $15 to help defer the cost of the prizes. Once you have entered three of our contests, you are considered family, and there is no fee to enter, but a suggested donation of $15.)
Our current contest requires that you submit the prologue to a novel in progress. We are offering $500 in prizes, and the invaluable feedback you will receive from people who comment on your story submission. Here are the details and how to enter:
Here is the prologue to
The Paradoxes and Contradictions of Romantic Flight
by Madame Parisianne Modert
Waking up two hours before sunrise, Juliette stretched her arms above her head yawning. The silver glow upon her youthful cheeks shimmered a joy so alive that moon maidens envied Juliette’s innocent beauty. Her recently redecorated bedroom of pink rose budded wallpaper and vanity contradicted her childhood passions of microscope slides, insect collections, aircraft models, tools, astronomy maps and science books both real and fictional of the ever inquisitive little girl. Growing up meant adding shoes, frills on hats, hair pins, fashion pages from Paris and dresses to her love of the telescope, flying bi-planes and getting greasy in her father’s aero factory complete with airfield. Miss Pieuvre’s clouded, sculptured ceiling’s skylights revealed the stars of the gods to which she now prayed each night for the illusive modern man her heart desired.
“If only I were an angel in flight from the power of my own wings not having to depend on my father’s airship,” Juliette imagined as her eyes sparkled towards the night’s late slumbering breath. Peeling away the covers, kicking her nightgown tangled legs over the edge of her bed, toeing into her slippers, Juliette ballet-floated across her bedroom floor before sitting in front of her vanity mirror. She took out her hair rollers watching her blonde ringlets fall. The thick swirls of shoulder length hair fell into an unruly order. Juliette finger-twirled the ringlets, bounced them with her two palms lifting upwards.
“Better,” she pouted while rolling her eyes.
“Father’s waiting! Hurry Juliette!”
Juliette stared into her own pale blue eyes in the mirror as she curled her lashes. She batted her lashes with a blush to the man of her dreams come to fly her away with his downy and lacy wings.
“Focus, Captain Juliette!” she huffed out then sighed in paradoxically.
Juliette finished dressing with an umber-ruffled ankle-showing dress over her petite frame. In her mother’s opinion Juliette’s fashionable undergarments were shocking compared to what women wore when she was 19. Juliette laced her field boots adding to her 5 foot 4 inch, 112 pound hourglass frame.
For today, on Juliette’s 19th birthday, in late August of 1917, her father would be promoting her to be captain of his redesigned dirigible, the Aurora, which he had named after Juliette. To Jules, his daughter had an innocent, yet insistent beauty meant to command the morning sun across the sky of Lake Geneva. His wife, Gretchen, would be, later in the afternoon, match making on Juliette’s behalf later in the day, shamelessly displaying her daughter, Juliette, as a potential wife to her male birthday party guests in the afternoon. To Juliette her father’s gift was appreciated more than her mother’s well intended. meddling futility. Yet, what if her mother’s plotting succeeded?
Sitting back down to apply her base, powder, rouge, lipstick and eyeliner with highlights to the lids above, Juliette felt feminine, loved by her family, but a stranger to romantic love. How she had longed for, cried for and fantasized for her ideal man to desire her for herself and not his own fantasy of what a spouse should be. She had particularly felt this way for the last year. With a sigh and blowing a puff of breath up at a curl that had fallen in front of her she stood, put on her soft helmet-like hat with wings pointing upward and outward like an eagle ready to take flight. This velveteen creation was the latest couture fashion from Paris.
Leaving her bedroom behind she felt older, confident and defiant of living the narrow rules which her mother and society had tried to instill in her. “My man needs to respect my intellect and aviator’s spirit without denying his masculinity,” Juliette whispered to herself confidently.
“Today I am the modern woman of my own design: not a man’s,” Juliette thought, seeing her father waiting for her in the hallway by the backdoor of their home. She had not been born in this spacious, county house, although Mademoiselle Pieuvre had shared most of her life with her parents in these wooded, streamed grounds on the outskirts of Lausanne, Switzerland.
“How pretty you look Juliette. Happy birthday, dear,” Gretchen said with a lilt as she rose from the couch in the living room to kiss her daughter on the cheek. “Safe flight my little angel, and bring your father home alive and on time for once.”
“I will mother, but for once won’t you please come with us?”
“No, my precious, I have too much to do to get ready for your party this afternoon.”
“Are you afraid of flying with me?”
“I’m afraid of flying with anyone. My excuse this time is coordinating a celebration for you with gifts, family, your girl friends, handsome young men, cake and punch out back.”
Juliette kissed her mother’s cheek back, turned to allow her father to escort her to the auto that she would insist on driving to the airship tower which moored the hovering Aurora. The tower steps were silent, still darkened from the pre-dawn sky, poised at attention for their new captain’s arrival.
Without delay father and daughter climbed the tower with the crew of four men to the entry platform, stories above the ground. Juliette entered the Aurora first giving permission for the other five to come aboard her airship. On the captain’s deck, with the wheel in her hand and her father at the gauge instruments, she ordered the ropes released from the tower over a loud speaker attached to the outside of the gondola. Juliette felt every part the aviatress captain.
Climbing in altitude towards the East away from Lake Geneva, Juliette knew she must wait for the sun to peek from the horizon facing them before turning back west high in the heavens. After an hour the sun rubbed the sleep from its eyes to greet the fair captain in her maiden voyage. Turning westward in her modern chariot, she imagined herself as the goddess Aurora pulling the sun across the crimson-goldenrod-orchid yielding sky erasing shadows, revealing fields of chartreuse and woods of chestnut and yew . The evening would need wait for the man who would accept her Venus being to arise without robbing her of her starry eyed, modern orbit. This morning Juliette’s captain’s flight path was the cobalt blue watery brush stokes upon the ornate resort castles and chalets lining Lake Geneva.
Drifting peacefully, Juliette’s mind day dreamed her nightly desires. As of late the same cold, distant stars that her father had shown her through a telescope when she was a little girl had become the venue for Juliette’s tears, streaking down like shooting meteors, covered only by her thin fingers with polished nails.
“Where shall I find my love, if not between heaven and earth? For I soar to find a love as pure as angel wings, unfurled, so our joined souls can know no shame, disapproval or need to change the other.” Juliette begged the winds to deliver this message to her future mate. “Should he be more like the young human Tithonus or the virile, god Mars?” she debated in her mind.
Juliette doubted that a man such as Tithonus could be tender, peaceful poet and commandingly masculine, but she had dreamt of and fantasized that such a man would find her. The image of the god Mars seemed illogical here in neutral and peace-sworn Switzerland which was so unlike most of the remainder of Europe. Here the skies were not endangered by the newest flying weapons. Only loved ones living outside the Swiss boarders were in war theater dangers.
In frustration, the pretty captain regained her conscious bearings. Yes, Juliette had emotions of a conflicting war between a modern woman’s need for freedom and an old-fashioned wife’s need for a loving husband to give herself to. The unreal nature of both the foreign, senseless war raging and the negotiations for an egalitarian masculine but sensitive husband seemed as illusive as whispers of cloud streaks whirling about the Aurora. Juliette hugged her freedom of spirit dismissing her wanton worries and woes, smiling into her captain’s microphone before speaking.
“I am Aurora, goddess of the dawn, in my flying chariot bringing light to this beautiful, but troubled world. Cloud hiding gods grant my prayers for peaceful enlightenment to men and bring me my soul’s husband by Venus’s compassed true north,” Juliette, the paradox and contradiction of the modern woman and captain chimed into her airship’s speaker system. The crew became embarrassed; Jules mourned the loss of his little girl becoming her own woman while angels passed on the prayers of the pure Mademoiselle Juliette Pieuvre.
And so…ONCE UPON A TIME …