Punctuation & Rhetoric

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

In ancient times, when battles were still fought face to face, there was a land in the west that was in a constant state of war. Two ruling families had shed blood for generations and it seemed hopeless that any state of peace could exist. At least until a union was born. It was a union of good, purity and above all, true love. This union was the love between the son and the daughter of the feuding families. The legendary love of Princess Punctuation and Prince Rhetoric. Their love was so strong that it healed the hatred in the hearts of the elders and, for the first time in centuries, the people of that land could see a time of peace on the horizon.

Unfortunately, only two nights before they were to wed, a war broke out in the south of an allied country and Prince Rhetoric was called to battle. It would mean years of absence from his beloved Punctuation. He promised to write her as often as he could and warned her not to lose hope if she received little news. The messages they relayed would have to be in code, and the time between each message could be months if not years. The night he left, Punctuation wept and beat her fists upon the cobblestones of the road that led her sweet Prince further and further away from her.

Months after Rhetoric’s departure, a letter arrived at the palace and Punctuation read it with shaking hands and quick breaths, desperately hopeful for good news. But there was none to be found. Rhetoric managed to communicate that the battle ahead didn’t look good. He knew they were outnumbered, and the General of the opposing army was well-known for his bloodthirsty and ruthless tactics. Left with little comfort, Punctuation cried through the nights, dedicating all her prayers to the hope of Rhetoric’s safe return. Many more months passed, slowly turning into years. There were rumors of horrific battles, prisoners taken by the enemy and released months later with missing limbs, having been tortured into insanity. Punctuation barely kept her faith that Rhetoric was alive. Then on the day of a great storm, a letter arrived at the palace. It was written in the unmistakable hand of Rhetoric. Punctuation cried out in relief at the sight of the battered envelope. Clearly, it had been through a battle of its own in getting to her. It looked as though it had been soaked and trodden upon before its arrival at the palace.

On a sole piece of paper was written a single sentence. Punctuation read it unable to bear the news encoded in a simple sentiment. It read, “Punctuation without her Rhetoric, is nothing.” She took this as code to mean that Rhetoric had died or was captured, never to return to her. Her heart shattered instantly and she dropped dead with the exhale of a last tearful breath.

However, the greatest tragedy was not yet revealed, for when Rhetoric wrote the letter it had actually read, “Punctuation. Without her, Rhetoric is nothing.” He had meant it as news of his miraculous victory in battle, imminent return and undying love for Punctuation. But due to the damage the letter had received on its travels, the greatest misunderstanding in the history of English took place, and upon hearing the news of Punctuation’s death, Rhetoric threw himself into the local river. They were buried side by side in the land of their beloved home, which never suffered another day of war in honor of the two lovers.

These are the only surviving portraits of the unwed couple.

1.Punctuation: the practice or system of using certain conventional marks or characters in writing or printing in order to separate elements and make the meaning clear, as in ending a sentence or separating clauses. Rhetoric: the study of the technique of using language effectively.

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