He was pulp fiction with expletives & explosions, she, Harlequin Christian romance with exaltation & exclamations of everlasting love. They gave their fans what they wanted, & though their work only endured till the next author came around, they made a good side income freelancing for the local newspaper— he, covering the grit & gristle of hard news, & she, the cream & fluff of soft news.
When Comma sailed on a scholarship to Oxford College— in nothing but a pinafore & saddle shoes— having unearthed her earthly purpose at Harvard, she discovered her divine purpose through her thesis on clarity, & thus became the Oxford Comma.
They Couldn’t Take it With Them
When Miss Grammarly & Miss Writerly— 2 spinsters who unraveled yarns & whose punctuation rained on a mathematician’s parade like music notes in a sour serenade— passed on to that great Writing Lab in the sky, they found that their favorite mark, the non-committal Semicolon, had not made it past the mother-of-pearly gates, for when S.C. had reached the end of its life sentence, it hadn’t known whether to pause or stop altogether, & so it chose to continue to haunt English majors & thus remain, the bane of their earthly existence.
Tippi was a blond out of the bottle, Dagny, a blond with brunette roots. When they decided to fleece a couple of black sheep, these fun girls realized that with a drop of a hanky & just the promise of panky, blondes may have had more fun, but brunettes got away with it.
He was all that was wrong with men when it came to women, for he felt entitled to take whatever one he wanted, only for Bubba Edmonds in Cell #9 to feel even more entitled to pick him as his newest Turkish delight.
When Comb met Brush, they encountered a hairy situation, making Brush bristle & Comb lose all her teeth.
Her lawyer read over every email, every contract, & every employee handbook, looking for loopholes she could fall through. When she found the humdinger of them all, slipping through it like a cheaply-wrapped stick of hot butter, she spent her way through America, redistributing her wealth by patronizing restaurants so that all her fat was not redistributed but freshly-distributed in what was now known as “Corporation Up Front.”
He practiced law but didn’t follow it. She practiced Christianity but didn’t preach it. They practiced medicine but wouldn’t take it. When they found each other, they found the one thing they could take— each other’s inability to do themselves what they told others to do.
He was a playboy, she, a working girl. Though they were in the biz, they were also camera shy, but what they believed would be their undoing would have been their alibi.
When Stuffed Shirt met Fancy Pants, they realized they coordinated perfectly. When they crossed the beaten path with Mr. Overalls, feeling like they were better than him because he said y’all rather than whatever the hell it was they said, he, with his denim wisdom, told them that at least he didn’t need no belt to keep it all together.
When Brookie Crowney, as part of her parole, joined Chocoholics Anonymous for chewing up BonBon Bailey’s candy ass, the support group was forced to change its name, for Brookie just wouldn’t shut the fudge up about it.
When Cursive met Print, Print lamented about feeling disconnected, to which Cursive replied, “At least people understand you.”
When Chad decided to double-cross Dictionary & Thesaurus, he, with the IQ of a boiled turnip, was no match for Dictionary, who didn’t just tell him what he was but went so far as to spell it out & use his name in a sentence while Thesaurus, who was fed up of being overused, called him every name in the book.
Mr. Shaker worked in the salt mines, Ms. Grinder, the pepper mill. They endured a hardscrabble existence, what with him being a water retention expert & she, being blessed more times than were sugar lumps at tea time in Britain. At a well-seasoned age, they retired on a penny pension, ready to spice up their world. When they met over a bowl of grits a yo-yo, they realized that they complemented one another perfectly.
When the Couch Potatoes decided they needed a rebranding, they juiced carrots daily, trying to turn themselves into Sweet Potatoes, which only made them ill, so they marketed themselves as gluten-free sofa spuds instead, but took it too far when they made Bread the enemy.
For her, motherhood was spent smacking tags on clothes in the store & plush animals at home, on spinning pennies & Minnie Mouse by the tail, on “crashing the checkers” of Connect Four, only for the tray to be filled up again with what she called gold coins & pepperonis. Though such activities became repetitious, the payoff was in her smile that lit up her face like a gloriole & with the laughter that filled a room with mirth.
She taught her daughter about Dreamland, Tomorrowland, & Never-Never Land that was always, always there. She taught her about the Land of Shuteye Town, of Oz, Narnia, & Wonderland, & the Queendom of 40 Winks. She taught her practical magic & made realism magical, which came from the imaginations of those under the Heaven that was beyond imagination & surpassed all understanding.
There were oohs & aahs over the goos & gahs as the parents & grandparents gathered round in fascination with this new life, bearing pink, plushy presents, while the little child who had preceded this life stood back & watched in the cool shallows, thinking her star had dimmed when it had only matured, not understanding that her co-existing co-creators had wanted this life, in part, because her ever-so-wonderful life had come first.
Once upon a long time ago, it was understood that the men went to the College of Liberal Arts, run by men & the women, the School of Domestic Arts, run by women. But then a Mr. & Mrs., well-versed & quite dexterous in both arts, showed the world that it was better off when men & women not only learned from one another but when everyone was educated & knew how to do things for themselves.
She was a kindergarten teacher, he, a college professor. She taught the phonemes, he, the 100-dollar words. They both saw the value they gave to their students— she, in their beginnings, & he, in their ends.
She took numerous DNA tests, only to fail them, her cat was always upchucking all over her homework, & she was often accused of plagiarism by a TurnItIn bot who had twice the intelligence but not half the talent. When she sneaked into the Student Lab for a prescription to unknot the stress ball that was her life, she realized that she knew who she was, even if she didn’t know what she was, that maybe online classes were for her, & that in-text citations were a student’s best friend.
Christal had grown up as the replacement child, the third of Mr. & Mrs. Lord, for their first had been taken & given back to God. When Christal broke that barrier & turned back time to have a chance to rescue the girl whose death had given her life— she saw her own life floating away before her eyes & drown out of existence. She thought of all the memories that would be wiped out, even her very existence, but in that last second, she knew it was better to save a life by curing a death, even if it meant preventing a birth, & so she pulled the girl whose face she knew as well as her own, but whose face had remained frozen at the age of eight, from the dark waters that now engulfed them both. Flooding in tandem with the memories of living in her dead sister’s shadow, Christal had lived, in another life & dimension, in her living sister’s light, where she was no longer the replacement child, but the surprise one.