There was pregnant pause fit for an ellipsis at the Plath Institute for the Punctuationally Perplexed.
Apostrophes dangled in mid-air—like modifiers—pondering their functions. Were they in for possession, or did their presence suggest a multitude of charges?
Commas found themselves scattered, unsure of where to go and how many of them were necessary. Meanwhile, the semi-colons, colons and em-dashes jockeyed for position in the awkward sentences with which Samuel struggled.
Let us not forget the exhausted, overworked exclamation points—slumped at the end of sentences as though italicized.
It was a tough life on the chain letter gang: “Not everything is that big of a deal! Couldn’t one of those periods relieve us once in a while?”
Looking up, a cluster of unremarkable dots lounged lazily; piled in a corner like tiny capers, gathering dust. They shrugged their rounded shoulders and waited for a summons to dot an i.
It all came to a head when Samuel’s main character uttered a rhetorical question, pitting the exclamation point and question mark against one another in a grammatical duel.
“It’s a question, so shouldn’t I be the one?” QM reasoned.
“Duh!” ExP rolled his eye. “Not when the question isn’t meant to be answered, Stupid!”
“Who are you calling “stupid?”
“Look in the mirror!”
QM flexed his exaggerated curve with malicious intent.
ExP stiffened in kind; his dotty eye flashing danger, and hissed, “There ain’t room for both of us in this damn sentence…”
Samuel knew he had to defuse the situation before the Punctuation Potentates placed The Institute in delete mode, akin to a jailhouse lock-down.
The result: naked pages.
Frantically, Samuel googled “punctuation” in search of a clue.
And there it was: The interrobang, an exquisitely functional morphing of the two characters at odds.
Interrobang on Parade
Samuel was enamoured with his discovery. In fact, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
He became obsessed with this dynamic piece of punctuation, so much so that he was unable to write anything but a rhetorical sentence.
“What to do…O, what to do‽” was Sam’s lament.
Finally, he decided to get an interrobang tattoo in hopes of regaining his creative prowess.
He even added an ellipsis to express continuity; perhaps even infinity.
But Sam was never the same again.
Image created by Xavier Yes