The night was warm as the combined personalities of a hundred fairy-tale grandmothers. There was a slight draft reminiscent of the slow breathing of a sleeping baby during those few moments where it isn’t driving its parents and all the neighbors insane with its endless bawling. Being the city, the night sky wasn’t starry. It was a color somewhere between red and orange. The best way to describe it was “someone left Donald Trump out in the sun too long again”.
I was seated on my bed, in my pajamas, staring at a notebook I had filled with numbers while calculating the advisability of betting my life savings on Juventus F.C. I heard something scrape against the window and turned my head
in that direction. I didn’t see anything so I assumed it was another dry leaf falling from a tree.
I saw a zigzag drawn on the page I was writing on when I looked back at it, but I didn’t remember drawing it myself.
Juventus’ near-fifty-game winning streak from a few years ago came to mind. Maybe they’ll get back in shape and I can finally get that PlayStation, I thought to myself. I started smiling when I pictured Allegri leading his team to victory and enabling me to spend months wasting my life on Street Fighter V.
I looked at the notebook to continue my calculations, and I saw the words, “What happened to us?” written on the page. This time I was sure I hadn’t written it, because it was in a different color from the one I was using at the time, and it wasn’t my handwriting. I was trying to think of what to think of the situation, when I saw words forming on the page by themselves in the same mysterious color and handwriting.
“You’re supposed to answer my question. Please don’t open your eyes so wide, it’s impolite to stare and it makes you look like a retarded ostrich.”
I couldn’t believe it. It was incredible, just like in the books. I started asking myself a bunch of questions. Were all those novels actually biographies? Is there a magic school somewhere? If so, how does one get to it? Is there a Platform 9 3/4? Flying cars? Is there a blue-eyed girl somewhere who will fall in love with me? Am I Gryffindor or Slytherin? Will I ever get to save the world from an evil man with no nose? Am I a Muggle or wizard anyway? As I continued asking myself these questions, my initial shock gave way to amazement at the possibilities.
“Any day now”, formed on the page.
I took my pen and with a trembling hand, I wrote down, “Who are you?”
“Your handwriting looks horrifying. Just speak out loud and I’ll answer in writing.”
I looked at my handwriting, and it was horrifying. It was usually the “doctor” handwriting type – you know the one – but this time it looked like it was made up of the signatures that crack addicts would use before they sold their souls to the devil for a hit.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I asked.
“I am Grammar and Punctuation. I want you to stop behaving like a reckless lunatic.”
I wanted to ask how it was that I was having a conversation with grammar itself, but the edge of impossibility had already been crossed.
“I don’t understand. How am I behaving like a reckless lunatic?”
“You pay no attention whatsoever to the rules of the English language anymore. You just go around pronouncing and spelling everything wrong, trying to turn the world into a bad place for everyone. Why don’t you set off a nuclear bomb in a room full of baby seals while you’re at it, you animal.”
“Is that what you’re here for? Everyone makes errors every once in a while. It’s only human”, I said while trying not to laugh at Grammar and Punctuation’s trivial concern.
“You can’t say that. You have been making spelling errors all your life, but at least back in the day you used to take caution to avoid them. Now you just don’t care. You don’t even add full stops to the last sentences of your texts. And you wonder why the girl never responds.”
The laughter I was restraining died instantly. Grammar and Punctuation had touched a sensitive area and I wasn’t going to take it lying down. I wasn’t going to let anyone talk to me like that. I had my dignity! Granted, it was reduced sufficiently by the Powerpuff Girls pajamas I was wearing at the time, but I still had some of it left in me! I clenched my fist and hit the notebook hard.
“Wow”, the words wrote themselves,”This is exactly what I mean. You don’t use your words these days. You just punch anything that you disagree with. Okay. If that’s how you want this to go, then that’s how it’ll go. I can use brute strength, too. Every time you say something I disagree with, I’ll give you a migraine so bad you’ll want to trade places with Lincoln or Kennedy.”
“Don’t you think that last part is disrespectful to the memories of two great statesmen who don’t deserve to be – AAAH!” I felt a searing pain in my head and it hurt worse than Miley Cyrus’ music. It was so bad that it felt like John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald shooting me in the face at the same time would hurt less.
The pain disappeared as suddenly as it had come and I saw words forming on the page.
“Now that you know I’m not playing maybe you’ll take things seriously. When did you decide to start being so careless with your language? I know your parents raised you better than to use commas as carelessly as you do, you boor.”
“I try my best to avoid those mistakes, I swear”, I pleaded, trying to avoid another headache.
“Stop lying to me! I’ve seen the things you write on the Internet. Forums, social media, comment sections. I know all the mistakes you’ve made without batting an eyelid. You have replaced me with short forms and emoticons. You no longer speak of the radiance that lights up your soul when someone says something that makes you happy. Now it’s just ‘lol XD’. You make me sick, you know that? And when you get to the end of this sentence, I’ll give you another migraine.”
I felt another jolt of white-hot pain scorch my brain again. I felt like my head was going to melt, and if I wasn’t in so much pain I would make one of those “when the freestyle verse in your head is too hot to contain” jokes that I see on Twitter so often. This time, it lasted longer.
The words continued.
“Then you have the nerve to start a blog. I’ve read it, and your use of ellipses makes me want to take away your Internet connection as well as all of your fingers. You’ve become so bad at language that you just settle for using pictures in all your posts. What is wrong with you? Why are you still making spelling mistakes at your age? The other day, you missed one for almost three whole days, and you only saw it after your friends pointed it out to you. The same friends whose grammar you used to correct a few years ago. I should gouge your eyes out since they’re not looking at a dictionary anyway.”
“Please don’t gouge out my eyes”, I cried.
“What do you think those wavy red lines below words are? Do you think they’re an invitation to be Microsoft Word’s valentine?”
I felt something warm flow down my cheeks. Tears. I was terrified. Might as well get a good use out of those tear ducts before my eyes are ripped from their sockets.
“Then the other day I heard you say that certain certain rappers are better than the greatest poet that ever lived. ‘Fo shizzle’ is an affront to the English language! Maybe a nice migraine will cure your sacrilege.”
The third one was worse than the first two. I screamed at the top of my lungs, but the pain was too much for me to concentrate on whether a sound came out or not.
“That one was for Shakespeare, Dickinson and Neruda. Let that be a warning. The next time you try something that stupid again, you will not live to regret it or try to explain it away by fabricating differences between variations of English around the world. Am I clear?”
I read the words and nodded my head desperately, trying my best to ensure Grammar and Punctuation noticed it and saved the migraine. My shirt was wet from the tears of my violent sobbing.
“Good. I’ll be watching you. And because I know you’ll try to text someone about this, the ‘and’ in my name isn’t capitalized. Remember to use a full stop at the end of that text or your head will do like an egg and crack open.”
* * *
I opened my eyes to find I had fallen asleep at my desk while typing a post for my blog. My eyes were still teary and I was sweating all over.
“It was just a dream. I’ve got to stay away from the extra sugar. Lol XD”, I said, feeling very relieved.