A Proposition: From one of our most astute commentators, Madame Modert

Good Evening, Literati, on this blustery fall day from the Towers that are A Word with You Press just a few short blocks from Friendship Square in Moscow. Parisianne Modert has proven to be as capable a critic as writer, and I am made well aware of the shallowness of my own thoughts simply be reading what she has to post about the stories her fellow authors have submitted into this contest.

But in this, her second entry into The First Annual Peggy Dobbs Write-of-Passage Contest, she finds herself not in deep or shallow water, but on the beach.  Let’s take a stroll with her, shall we?

  Seabird Reflections of unrequited Love

by Madame Parisianne Modert

Darkness resigned to first light of day with my shoes dropping on to the beach’s wet, primal and chilly sand.  The flat, gritty slush oozed up into my painted toes without being able to embrace any hug for more than a moment.  This is Elizabeth’s domain not mine.  I have never walked here or met her before.  Am I wrong to be here hoping she will magically appear?

Liz is the wind between my ears that either is a demonstratively enchanting diva bringing glowing ecstasy or an elusive disappearing phantom bringing panic along with silent regrets to me.  Endless waves crash.  They rise then fall, unpredictable in height and breadth much like the lady I love.  This cyber woman has nurtured my soul with play and worship.  Liz, ebbs as the relentless, undercurrent tide.  I have bet my life on our love for each other.  Her adulthood has had challenges most would drown from.  Her reformation from these hells has defined the woman she has become.  Liz is both the soft sensuality of moonlight on a jazz piano and the radiant warmth of sunlight in a rock microphone.

Forget her?  Impossible to do.  My death will not be so merciful.  Liz is both my heaven of inspirational muse and my hell of unrequited lover.  What if Liz isn’t even real.  Perhaps someone else lives in those castle walled blocks on the urban inlet streets which I drove by earlier in a check mark pattern.

Is that her orange blossom with hints of oriental spice perfume I smell?  “O, my God it is you Liz.”

“Hey you.”

“Hello Liz.”

“What are you doing her Michelle?”

“I missed you Liz more than you…”

“Is that bouquet of violets for me or for you?”

“I was hoping I would be able to give them to you.  Please accept them.”

“They’re beautiful and sweet like you.  Thank you.  Take my hand and let’s walk.”

“You’re not worried about Richard?”

“Dick is at work or he is with his mistress after driving Charlie to an early project group at school.”

“I thought Richard and you were reconciled?”

“Who knows?  I’m not absolutely sure, but you’re a woman so you understand smelling perfume that isn’t yours and lipstick marks that aren’t your shade.  Dick denies there is someone else again, but…how do I say this?  He use to hide other women from me better, then flaunted them, so we would have given up long ago without Charlie.  We’ve talked about this before.”

“We’ve written not spoken.  This is the first time we have spoken.”

“I know and I’m glad you are here.  Michelle, you have to forget about me ever being your lover.  You know I love you, but I can’t give you the love you want from me.”

“Are you so sure Liz?  How does it feel holding my hand?”

“Natural, warm and tender.  Women hold hands innocently Michelle.  Stop being masculine with me, because I crave penises.”

“Is that you’re only defense Liz?  Sorry, that was cruel of me.  Please don’t leave.”

“I’m right here.”

“Do you love me Liz?”

“Yes, I love you.  I read your letters and amazing stories about your version of us.  I’ve tried to reciprocate with positive inspirations to offset your dark moments.”

“Walking on this beach, holding hands with you, I feel alive.  You look amazing.”

“Amazing?  My hair is a mess, Uggs, no makeup, old clothes and…”

“You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life.”

“You haven’t lived much then.  Get out more.  Meet a woman who is perfect for you.”

“I am out and you are that perfect woman.  Divorce your husband and marry me.”

“O, sweetie.  What am I to do with you?”

“Look at the seabird Liz.”

“She’s beautiful and perfect, so what?”

“The wind claims her path in life.”

“I’m not following you Michelle.  Your poetic words are beautifully romantic from a brilliant imagination, but your subtext confuses me.”

“You claim love is love.”

“I did and I meant it, but love doesn’t mean owning me.  Marriage can be a prison without a key.”

“Who is the poet now?  You said you couldn’t take another man in your life.”

“Did I?  O, that!  I was talking about cats not people, hello.”

“Were you really Liz?  Our marriage would  be the freedom you desire.”

“I can deal with the boys’ club.  My son is very important to me.  My connection to my men is less and less, but necessary for now.”

“What do you want in life after them Liz?”

“That seabird gets to decide her complete life, but I never have.  Would life with you be so different than with Dick?”

“I think it would.”

“But you don’t know.”

“Liz, I’m willing to give my heart to you and live on your terms.”

“Then I would be taking your freedom away.  That would be like caging that seabird.  I refuse to do that to anyone.”

“Marry me Liz, I swear, it’s not too late for us.”

“No way.  I come with a son who still needs me Michelle.”

“Am I unnatural to you Liz?”

“Never say that again please.  You are natural to me, but one of a kind.”

“So are you.   Love me Liz, because I love you and would dare anything for your love.”

“You are such a sweet fairy tale, but this is real life.  What do you want of me?”

“Kiss me and in such a kiss ask my soul.  Let our souls make love to each other.”

Elizabeth walking away shaking her thick hair,  hands waving in the air.  I finally had gone too far.  Would she take wing like the seabird needing her freedom to fly away from the world of unenlightened humans?  Would she ever change her mind about me?  Unrequited, I awoke from my dream of Elizabeth in tears laying on her beach.  A seabird hovered on the breeze above me.  Had Liz found her freedom at last?


And here is another proposition worth pondering, ye Literati for whom love is a many splendor-ed and complicated thing:



25 thoughts on “A Proposition: From one of our most astute commentators, Madame Modert

  1. Glclark says:

    What we need and want and love and should be ours versus what a so-called society decides we can have to exist peacefully within ‘their world’ is what I’m taking from this story. To be denied that perfect love for fear of losing acceptance in that society is wrong.

    Parisianne, I told Peggy Dobbs one time that her work was written with such sensitivity and care that the keys probably made no sound when she typed the story. This story is just another example of that same style. There is great conflict in this story but it is tempered with love. It is handled with such a light touch that the story flows beautifully and so true to life.

    Your description of Liz, “Liz is both the soft sensuality of moonlight on a jazz piano and the radiant warmth of sunlight in a rock microphone,” blew my hair back. That’s about as close to an accurate description of what love feels like as I’ve ever read.
    Your writing makes me feel and smile and want more. What more could an author give her fans than that?

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Your kindly generous words humble me Gary knowing the quality of writer you have proven yourself to be. The style is mine, but we are all a rich dance card of writers, artists and other human beings who have influenced us with a tapestry of life’s potential graces. This story was influenced by the movie, “The Sandpiper” with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Eva Marie Saint as well as “The Tempus” by William Shakespeare as well as the poem “I Heard A Caged Bird Sing” by Maya Angelou. I wondered if instead of Richard Burton being the minister who discovers the wonder, natural philosophy on life within Elizabeth Taylor the artist with son, that the one who falls for the artist is Eva Marie Saint the Miranda like innocent romantic with Richard Burton being the husband of Liz the artist he has never appreciated in full or could control like he wanted to in marriage. In time there has been an adjustment, but not a peace or growing together other than the son they share. Charlie in my story therefore takes the place of Elizabeth’s son in the movie. The reference of a school project was to link that twist of plot. The character Michelle is in love with her mind’s version of Liz. There is a gap between them in reality much like Richard Burton’s character in, “The Sandpiper” was always leaving and never staying with the artist. Their time was limited. They come from different worlds much as in The Tempest and are joined on the beach much as the movie and the older play. The question of love in this story is about a conflict of the meaning of freedom versus marriage much like the movie suggest. Freedom is seen as being able to exist without marriage with the cage used symbolically. “The Sandpiper” ending always disturbed me as to why a moral compass would outweigh passionate love. Richard Burton leaves both women not just his wife or the artist to find himself. Liz in my story is in that same position which is why marriage is a cage to her. Change cages and marriage to her is still a prison that denies who she really is. She also wishes to not be a jailer much like the sandpiper in the movie must go free of the care from the artist. Liz has never had the grace to know herself rather than being a reaction to those important in her life. The story wants to suggest that neither her husband, Richard nor her lesbian friend understand nor would grant her this time of discovery in her life. The ending mirrors Miranda from “The Tempest” when she wonders if she has dreamt or been awaken. Is the island meant as a prison inescapable or is there a frightful hope in Miranda’s brave new world marriage to come? The unresolved questions laced with paradox conculsions of tragedy awaken Michelle asking herself if there is hope remaining for Liz to ever be her life lover. Has Michelle finally faced the reality of being unrequited or is she merely still lost within her own mind upon a beach of endless waves crashing giving her no answers? One way or another the spirit of Liz in my story is supposed to mirror the debate within the sandpiper once freedom has been opened to it. As a romantic, my hope is that Liz has become that seabird soaring to her own freedom and discovery upon the winds unburdened by the humans who have kept her grounded her entire life.

  2. Ken Weene says:

    When we can live in perfect fantasies, why, oh why, do we humans insist on finding out reality? Michelle, emulate that lonely seagull, cruise with the freedom of the wind. Forget love in the real world. Once begun the pain will come.
    In other words, Parisianne, you have written a story that touches the heart.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Ken. This is a story of three unrequited adults. Michelle lives in a fantasy world which misunderstands Liz’s need for freedom. Richard lives as a husband turning elsewhere for an affection and understanding missing in his marriage with Liz and Liz lives as a woman having served others, but never allowed her freedom to get to know herself. Liz is the desperation of so many women. Liz and Liz alone is the seabird want to be. The beach is Liz’s. It is her domain and not any of the other characters in this story. The seabird represents freedom from human interactions which have denied Liz the freedom she so desperately desires. The seabird gets to live her life, but will Liz ever get to live her own. Both Richard and Michelle are understandably human, but are unrealistic when it comes to loving Liz. They therefore are both characters that many can identify with, but are not sympathetic in their behaviors or designs on Liz.

      • Ken Weene says:

        But it is Michelle who insists on trying to find what cannot be. She needs to allow herself at least the freedom of fantasy. Three very sad characters and a child, who will someday join them in that same realm of somehow missing out.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          Michelle in this story is anyone who is lost in her mind of fanciful delusions. There is a reason that Liz and her have been separated in cyber space. The reason is that Michelle is lesbian and Liz is straight. In doing research into the likelihood of such a relationship happening in real life, I found that this tension often happens. I imagined a closeness and courage online which doesn’t translate as well in face to face encounters. Michelle honesty believes that she is the mate Liz needs rather than a neglectful husband. From subtle beginnings, Michelle has braved coming to Liz’s beach not to explore, but to claim a wife. Michelle therefore is as arrogant as she is awkward in her pursuit of her fantasy of flightful thinking. I read many post on how lesbians who are feminine like Michelle cross the line in romancing straight women. There is a much more delicate and subtle way about this arrangement than a man approaching a straight or bi-sexual woman or a lesbian approaching another lesbian or bi-sexual woman. Michelle and Liz are victims to the taboos of our society. The story begins after the confession of love which in Michelle is romantic longings and in Liz, sisterly and friendly only. Liz knows how Michelle feels about her, is liberal enough to not be offended as long as they stay in Michelle’s mind, but can’t accept Michelle as a lover. All three adults are characters seeking different forms of intimacy which is why this is a romantic tragedy.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you, but the seabird (seen in my mind as a sandpiper) is not the symbol of requited love, but one of the aspiring freedom to be unrequited. Notice that the two main characters are in a difference of opinion here. Michelle is no different than Richard in wishing love from a woman who needs her freedom from both. Liz didn’t stroll onto the beach to find Michelle, but to be alone with her thoughts. She is gracious enough to walk with her enamoured friend, but Liz is like the sandpiper more than she is embracing humanity. Liz is like the Little Mermaid seeking an existence that her species does not know. The sandpiper flying in the breeze becomes a symbol therefore for what it has known its entire existence. There is no real hope for Michelle until she awakes from her dream like love for Liz and evolves into the true love of wishing her friend to find the freedom of the sandpiper.

      • Tiffany Monique says:

        Liz being alone on the beach with her thoughts is a love accepted. Accepting that the seabird loves the ability to fly is just as important as its need to fly. Michelle is Richard and the current is the current. I see it as a place in which the bird flies. Wanting freedom, but existing within the current, still flying. She does herself a disservice by staying, but has chosen to do so for her son (and some other things I am sure haven’t been written in). Acceptance is just as difficult as love… as flight. So I see the love unrequited and accepted.

        Oh my… just realized my typo… I meant to put UNrequited and accepted. Still, this was a loverly debate-ish.

          • Parisianne Modert says:

            A slip on a Freud would mean Anna not Sigmund; although it would explain a lot about his obsession with sex. Below is a photo of Sigmund strolling with his daughter Anna who became a psychoanalyst advancing her father’s theories within her practice and her own writings. There is the term “going bananas” for instance. A banana can be seen as a symbolic replacement for a … well, you know and so did Sigmund. This writer should note for fair disclosure that she had her banana split, gutted with her Mrs. Peel placed in a much safer and cozy place. Anna would understand the beauty of this arrangement; whereas it was Sigmund’s greatest spear…I mean fear. Whoops…I made a Freudian slip on a banana peel.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          The one thing I wanted to clarify is that Michelle is most definitely not Richard. She is a woman not a man. Liz assumes the marriages would be alike, but they would never be. Michelle is dedicated to loving one and only one person for life; while Richard is a cheater because of what his relationship with Liz lacks for him and the other women can offer. To Thorn’s comment below, I was very careful not to place any male symbol into the beach scene, but did put in a male symbol for the block castle by means of a check mark which you’ll get the symbolism of the male anatomy if you think about it. The waves are like a woman’s cycles, the seabird is deliberately called “she” as in “she is perfect”. There are really two options in a short story on whether it should be open ended or closed (complete unto itself). My first story of Victoria and Maggie had a real closing as does this story and my third one will as well. However, each of them are truncated in that the stories have room to be expanded in the middle sections and/or the beginnings. Leaving that room maintains a sense of mystery and opportunities later on. I appreciate short stories which are so tight in structure that nothing is left to be said, but I as a writer reserve that structure for my novels.

  3. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Hi P. Your stories always leave me wanting more….wondering what will be their fate… Touching and beautiful as always…

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Sherri. I always think of the tale of the Lady or the Tiger in short story writing. The difficult part for me is that I am left with the frustration of leaving so many thoughts out when words are limited. Doing this sharpens skills, but diminishes complicated stories. I wanted to explore both Richard and Charlie more along with the cyber relationship between the two women. In a novel there is more room for narrative which allows subtext into the characters. The environment which is so much a character in this story is not given its fair due including the sandpiper. Still I hoped that the unrealistic love Michelle has for Liz is both lyrical and poetic in expression. The contrast between the love that each woman has for the other is a common theme among mature women of our day and age. I’ve heard from so many straight women that they have had fantasies about another woman, kissed another woman once, tried living with another woman as a lover or have been approached by friends who happened to be lesbian or bi-sexual. I have found in my life and my research that the lives of women of my age and younger are so different from that lifestyle of my mother or grandmothers. The audience here may not realize that the number of straight women turning lesbian once their children are raised or almost raised is growing not diminishing as women insist more and more of how they are treated in communication, sensitivities and equalities. I pictured both women as explorers of who they were which is also a common theme these days for women past 40. Michelle in this story is a single lesbian and Liz is a married straight woman with child. A novel could explore years rather than moments of the various relationships. There is a crescendo of questioning at the end of this piece leaving the reader such as yourself up in the air as to their fates. I wished for each reader to put themselves in Michelle’s place at the end of the story and also in Liz’s so that the characters would remain endearing and provocative in time.

  4. Michael Stang says:

    Is it no wonder the onesided affair balances the heart on the edge of a knife. I hear your talented voice throughout.

  5. KYLE Katz says:

    This for me belongs in the Finals! I’ve watched you grow in your writing and your spirit of pure possibilities of the human experience. The way you translate your passion of your characters, the development of your storyline, the honesty of your writing is what leaves an imprint long after the taste of the words hide themselves back on the shelf, collecting dust. You are truly a rare bird. Now fly dear one and sprinkle all that you are and all that you have to give…so we all can witness and learn! Exceptional P….

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I am deeply honoured by your kind words dear friend and gracious lady. Passion of characters for me means walking a mile then another with them, becoming them and speaking dialogue from their mind not my own to the other characters as if I am seeing those characters in front of me. This is confusing for a few lines which generally have to be edited later and then whoosh it begins for real. I suspect this questionable quality is a product of too little socializing with real people. I honestly believe there is incredible talent to chose from in this amazing contest. Just to be allowed to submit and so kindly treated is humbling to me. This community of such creative minds, warm hearts and lively banter have become the family I relate to which very much includes you. There is no dollar, pound sterling or Euro value assignable to any of you. If I am fortunate to be a finalist I will pour my heart out in a story as an intended gift for what I have been given, but if not then I am already awarded with what really counts – friends who value, appreciate and uplift each other. Truly, I am flying upon the good fortune of a most kindly breeze.

  6. Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    Have I ever told you unrequited love and I are best friends? We listen to the same music <3

    My only wish is that there had been one little moment before Liz and Michelle speak–like the moment where time stands still. Hold the moment before they talk; give us a moment where we relish the love Michelle feels for Liz before they talk. Other than that, a sweet read <3

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      For me the lead up with the emotions playing Michelle’s mind are those moments. She asks if Liz is even real. That’s a moment. Michelle knows Liz well enough to have found out what perfume Liz wears, so she suddenly believes Liz could be behind her due to the breeze bringing Liz’s scent to her. That’a moment. The moment after is a shock for Michelle, but not Liz who has recognized her friend from a distance. In my mind Liz has had mixed emotions about meeting with Michelle. The distance has been on purpose and it is now being violated. Still, Liz loves her friend enough from their cyber connection to approach. For Liz those moments before speaking are her moments to think about what she wants to say to Michelle. Unrequited love hasn’t been my companion until this year Stephanie. I dated throughout high school with one steady girl friend in particular whom I loved very much and still do actually. In college I dated easily and found love before getting engaged the first time which failed, but the second one led to a marriage which lasted over 29 years ending in my lady’s death by cancer. I mourned for eight years without thinking of the possibility of loving again. Now in 2013 I know that feeling of unrequited love, but at my brighter moments have optimism. What I’ve learned is that love arrives and grows in many different manifestations. This a story where Richard and Elizabeth are on different pages leading to mutual mistrust despite being married for years and Michelle and Liz are on different paths, because of different life needs. Personally I see unrequited love as a destroyer of the chance to find true love. It is a vicious trap of the introverted mind replacing fantasy for intimacy. What Michelle needs to believe in is that her friendship with Liz will never be more than that and thus move on to finding someone who is capable of giving that greater measure. By this I don’t mean Michelle should compromise the traits and qualities she is looking for in another woman, but still she needs to respect Liz’s desire to fulfill her motherly duties and then seek her own life in freedom from having a marriage of any sort. The hope for this recognition in Michelle is when she wonders if Liz has become the sandpiper (seabird) floating in the air above after awakening. In that moment there also is a silence as an ending to the story.

  7. Parisianne Modert says:

    To even the score with my non-entry mass murder vampyress poem which has one more comment than this romance, I’ll ask you to read my last entry coming soon hopefully to this site. It is a mix of sci-fy made up lies and autobiographical truths about my life growing up. Will you be able to tell the difference between fiction and fact? Read my story if and when it is published here and find out. My third rock from the daughter to the son and mother entry is entitled, “Gender Conversations Across Time”. I hope you will read, enjoy and comment on it.

  8. Diane Cresswell says:

    Jeez Louise I don’t even know what to write. I became so engrossed in the words the dialog, the feelings bubbling to the surface, the twisting to achieve, the lost of what wasn’t. You are really a spider you know – you weave such beautiful stories in your web. You pull us in , leaving us waiting for more exquisite tales. Keep on spinning them out my dear – keep them coming.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I may be more a creepy, crawly spider spinning her web than even you might suspect dear lady. Spiders love mostly the life juices of their prey; although I pray for expressing this wanton lusting from my characters for the enjoyment of my readers. After all, we are a family of spiders are we not? As a writer, I wish to bring these psyche juices, if you may, to the surface so my readers may taste of them ever wishing a larger webbed banquet of sticky, gooey words and phrases to devour. I see us all as both voyeurs and voyagers of human and other living existences real and imagined. Sorry, Bill O’Reilly, but the spin never stops here within this writer’s web.

  9. Suzanne Morse Liy says:

    So wonderfully sensual and enticing. I could put myself there. This is a delightful piece. I love how you use the seabird as symbolic of their love.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Suzanne. The seabird actually is the symbol of the freedom that Liz wants and the out of reach love that Michelle holds for Liz. The evolution of Michelle’s unrequited love is brought into her own focus at the end where she realizes that Liz’s highest calling is not the unfaithful husband, the attachment to her son or the fantasies of Michelle. There is only the wishful symbol of the seabird flying free of any human entanglement. It fascinates me how many women never develop a true sense of themselves, because they give so much to others; while denying their own aspirations. Liz is such a woman. My theory goes that you can not fully love without fully loving yourself first. You can not love with quality what you don’t understand. Michelle doesn’t really understand Liz. Richard and Charlie don’t really understand her either. In fact, Liz’s real issue is that she has never been free to understand herself. Liz yearns for this luxury that the seabird has which she does not. Therefore the seabird is the symbol of what Liz needs in order to fully love herself followed by falling in love for the first time in her life. Until now she has only gone through lesser motions and emotions.

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