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by Mitch James


Period—a speck to signify the end of a sentence, but depending on what the sentence says, it could be the end of everything.

Letters—our symbolic representation of the world. They’re so florid in some fonts, fluid like athletes as they stretch across a page. Sometimes they stand straight and snake their bodies as if in a dance or, like workers, round their backs.

But not the period.

Take the word itself. It’s meant to symbolically represent the symbol “.” And the symbol “.” Is meant to represent an end. See how the “I” in is comes to life all on its own because of the period? Never mind that the “I” has actually misunderstood the period, misunderstood its purpose in being there in the first place. There’s a single misunderstanding, just one, and now the sentence is wrong, the whole paragraph, the whole document, flawed.

You tell me what this means.

One day I found a period on my syllabus. It was all alone in a box. I wiped the computer screen, then realized it was virtual and so deleted it, but not before wondering how it got there, a period in a space where there were no letters, a space where no letter had been.

That’s when I started noticing them. Periods. They started showing up in places where I didn’t put them, places where they had no usage. I’d delete them and try and pretend that I must’ve put them there on accident, that perhaps I wasn’t as good at multi-tasking as I’d believed.

Then, they started showing up in places where they belonged but where I would.ve never p.ut the.m. Suddenly, when they were in.serted into sentences instead of ra.ndom whi.te sp.ace, they lo.oked even more out of place. Suddenly. Most of wh.at I re.ad and l.o.oke.d at became peri…. S….ly I coul…t ev.n commun..te. And neith.. co… many o…. p……. … end w.s. every…… Everything. nothing .ut…………………………………………………l.ov.e………….me……………….w…………….g.d………………………………..sm…………………………………………..d…………………………..


 

Mitch James was born and raised in Central Illinois, where he received a BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing from Eastern Illinois University. He received a Master’s in Literature and a Ph.D. in Composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Mitch is an Assistant Professor of Composition and Literature at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, OH and is the Managing Editor at Great Lakes Review. Mitch’s fiction, poetry, and scholarship have been published in various places, some of which you can find here: mitchjamesauthor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrjames5527 and Facebook @perhupsous