Illustrations by Bill Wood 1991

 The letter Z sobbed miserably, crouched in a corner at the end of the alphabet.
     "Whatever's the matter?" inquired his concerned neighbour, Y.    
     "Oh, it's...it's my situation, explained the omega of the alphabet tearfully.  
     "What...what situation?" asked Y apprehensively.  
     "I'm...I'm always last!" complained Z his voice rising to a wail.  
     "Of course you are," said Y practically. "You're the twenty-sixth letter."
     "I know it's my destiny, but...but I'm always laughed at for being on the end," Z revealed. "I'm the butt of the other letters' cruel and heartless jokes."  
     "I'm sure that's not true. The other letters know how difficult it must be for you, but someone has to be last," Y helplessly tried to comfort his friend. "I know for a fact that the other members of the alphabet respect you for the wonderful job you're doing as the last letter.  
     "Yes," admitted a bashfully blushing Z, "but not the way they look up to A, the King of the Alphabet. How I would love to be in his shoes..."  
     "I can't take the pressure anymore!" the letter A proclaimed to his trusted confidant, B.  
     "What do you mean?" asked his perplexed neighbour.  
     "Why, the responsibilities of being the leader, of course!" snapped the first letter irritably.  
     "I always assumed that you enjoyed your job," revealed a shocked B.  
     "You've no idea of the demands involved," A told his friend. "You're only second in line, a mere Beta whereas I am the Alpha. How I would like to take a break from the responsibilities for a while. To be carefree like the letter Z!"  
     "Yes," agreed the alphabet's second letter, knowing that A didn't mean to insult him, "but I always believed you enjoyed your work."  
     "Oh I do, I do!" A assured him. "But it's all getting to me. The long hours, the responsibilities. Who does everyone blame when there's a crisis - a letter strike for example - me of course!"  
     "But that goes with the territory, doesn't it?" B pointed out. "I know that many letters would give their right side to be in your position."  
     "Oh yeah?" sneered a bitter letter T from the other side of the alphabet. "I'm the most overworked and overused letter of all and I don't even benefit from the perks of the job like King A does from his prestigious position."  
     "At least you're in demand," X jealously pointed out. "I rarely get called on for a job and when I do it's usually in the most difficult and unpronounceable words."       
     "Don't despair, darling," declared delicate D.
     "What are you all grumbling about?" elderly Q reprimanded her younger colleagues. "At least you have your freedom - you're young and single. I'm married to uncooperative, unreasonable, unpleasant U who always tags along with me!"  
     "Hmph!" snorted U. "I'm also unbiased, understanding unforgettable and..."  
     "...unreliable, unfriendly and ungainly," supplied Q spitefully.  
     "Preposterous!" proclaimed P.  
     "You think you have problems," sniffed an unhappy K. "At least you're not constantly ignored, like I am. I'm never even pronounced when I'm paired with N who loves to steal the spotlight!"   
     "I know how K feels," G sympathised.
     "I have the same problem with H."  
N and H scowled at their accusers. "It's not our fault that we're preferred," they defended themselves.  
     "Relax," recommended R.  
     "Meditate," murmured M.  
     "Sleep," suggested sensitive S.  
Suddenly, the quarrelling letters heard a shrill whistle echoing throughout the alphabet.  
     "What was that?" demanded neurotic N.  
     "Who called?" inquired terrified T.  
     "Who's there?" worried wary W.  
     "Quiet!" ordered an unfamiliar voice. The letters could just see a small dot who was addressing them.   
     "I am Full Stop," continued this small but powerful punctuation mark. "I will not have you silly letters bickering unnecessarily."  
     "That's right," agreed Comma, taking his place beside his friend. "All you letters are equally important."
     "Imagine the chaos that the world would be in if just one letter were missing!" proclaimed Exclamation Mark who enjoyed declaring.        "Whole sections of dictionaries would disappear," said Semi-Colon.  
     "Books would have to be rewritten," Apostrophe pointed out.  
     "Whatever would happen?" asked Question Mark, who loved inquiring.  
     "I don't know," revealed Quotation Marks, "but all the citizens of the alphabet must work together, because without all of them, I couldn't say a thing!"  
  


The Alphabet Revolt was among two thousand entries in the 1991 Young Aussie Writes' Award. It appeared — as the winning short story — in issue 4, 1991 of Pursuit, Australia's National Student Magazine.

To view to original publication:  page 1  page 2.


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Copyright 1991 Ilanit Tof, All Rights Reserved.