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.
asked Y apprehensively.
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
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..."
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,"
"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.
Suddenly, the quarrelling letters heard a shrill
whistle echoing throughout the alphabet.
"What was that?" demanded neurotic N.
"Who called?" inquired
"Who's there?" worried
"Quiet!" ordered an
unfamiliar voice. The letters could just see a small dot who was addressing
"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.
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Copyright © 1991 Ilanit
Tof, All Rights Reserved.