grammarlandI wrote the story below in high school, I forget which year, either junior or senior year – whichever one I did in November of 2004.  In English we were tasked with writing a paper about how important proper punctuation is.  I wrote a story, a story about a comma name Patrick in a place called Grammerland.  Before you read, yes, I used “Helloo” on purpose.


Our story starts in a far away country called Grammarland, in the small town of Punctuationville (where there is a ‘Full Stop’ sign on every street corner), in a small house at the end of Punctual Road (where no one is ever late to dinner), with a little comma named Patrick.

Patrick was the youngest of the O’Comma household. He was an excitable little comma who was always getting into sentences in which he did not belong. He was always dreaming during school about leaving Punctuationville and going to some other place without those rules about writing; that way, he would be free to stand anywhere he wanted in a sentence.

One day a stranger came to town, it was something completely new to Patrick, a punctuation mark he had never seen before; it was an underscore! Patrick wondered where this underscore had come from, and where he was going. He had heard the underscore mention some place called “Email” while talking to Mr. Exclamationpoint. Patrick was fascinated. He wanted to journey to this land of Email too.

So, when the underscore left town in the morning Patrick decided to follow him. He headed East to toward Backslash River, where Patrick presumed the underscore would catch a boat.

Patrick traveled along Written Road the short distance to the banks of Backslash River. When he arrived at the river’s edge he saw Mr. Questionmark fishing. “Mr. Q, fishing good?” – “How is it usually?” – “Seen the underscore pass by?” – “What underscore?” – “From town.” – “Where’s he going?” – “Don’t know.” – “Why are you 1ooking for him?” – “To go with him.”  Patrick knew it was going to be hard to get an answer from Mr. Q, since Patrick can only speak in fragments and a few short, choppy sentences (like all commas do) and Mr. Q can only speak in questions, but Patrick knew Mr. Q was a nice guy, and he thought he knew how to get an answer.

“Maybe down river. I wonder.” – “I wonder if I saw him go downriver on a boat?” – “Did you?” – “Would it make sense for him to go up river?” – “Don’ t know.” – “Can a boat travel upriver easily?” – “Doubt it.” – “Which way do you think went?” – “Downriver.” – “I wonder if anyone else would think you are right?” – “Thanks.”

“Whew,” thought Patrick, “that was tough.” Now he had to go downriver. He walked by the riverside for a while. As he was walking, he picked and ate the blackberries and raspberries that grew along the path.

In the late afternoon, he saw a boat docked by the near bank. He called out to them, “Some help?” And the underscore stepped out from the boats cabin. “No, I’m_fine, I_had_to_pull_the_boat_over_because_of_the_rocks; Backslash_Rapids, I_think_is_what_they’re_called,” responded the underscore. “Why_are_you_here?” – “Followed you.” – “Why?”-“Want to come.” – “Where?” – “Email.” – “Hahaha. Okay,_come_with_me_then. I’ll_show_you_Email. I’m_not_sure_if_you’ll_like_it_though.” – “Don ‘t like rules.” – “Then_you_should_do_fine. Call_me_”U”, okay?” – “Okay. Patrick.” – “Alright, let’s_get_going.”

“We’re_gonna’_have_to_walk_from_here_though. Email_is_due_East_from_this_point,” said U. Patrick climbed onto the boat and U pulled it over to the far bank. “We’ll_just_leave_the_boat_here,” said U. They headed out on a new path that Patrick had never been on before; U called it Ethernet Trail. The trail went through fields where wild em-dashes ran around and small hyphens frolicked in the fields of italics, and through a grove of bold trees, that had thick trunks, and then past more fields with rocks shaped like skinny letter “C”s, until dusk came and they saw a cottage on top of the next hill.

They knocked on the door, and Mr. Exclamationpoint answered! “Helloo U! I see you brought a little friend along, what what!” he said. “That’s not Mr. Exclamationpoint’s voice,” thought Patrick. “His_name_is_Patrick, he’s_from_Punctuationville. Patrick, this_is_my_good_friend_Mr._Exclamationmark.” – “Looks like Mr. Exclamationpoint.” – “Him! That unsophisticated cousin of mine! He doesn’t even use the proper name, huhmff!” – “Didn’t mean to offend.” – “You failed at it then!” – “Forgive_the_boy, he_is_new_here.” – “Come in, come in! You could catch a cold out there!”

They spent the night at Mr. Exclamationmark’s cottage, and left early in the morning. Patrick was feeling overwhelmed by all that was going on, he also felt a little homesick. They headed-out on Ethernet Trail. Around midday it became a busy street, and it also widened and had several side-trails. U said this is where Ethernet Trail became DSL Highway. Then they were there, they were in Email! Everyone was talking, shouting, and discussing things back and forth, usually to more than one person at a time. It was extraordinary. People were having whole conversations yelling, while others never took a breath between words, while others spoke in fragments (others who weren’t even commas!); it was a dream come true for Patrick.


And ignore the rules he did jumping into sentences where he didn’t belong: “where, are you.” “i got a, new, truck.” “my house is Blue, & Yellow, & Green, & Red.” Push the up, and down arrows @ the same time.” After just a short while he was tired and more confused than he had ever been. He found U at a place called The lnbox, where he was sealing and opening letters.

U took a break and asked Patrick, “So, how_do_you_like_Email?” – “Confusing.” – “Oh?” – “No rules. Hard to do.” – “Do_you_know_why_I_came_to_Punctuationville?” – “No.” – “To_learn_the_rules_of_grammar.  There_are_many_people_that_don’t_know, nor_care, about_the_rules.  They_think_it’d_be_easier_to_leave_the_rules_behind_and_go_someplace_without_rules.

Sound_familiar?” – “Ya … ” – “So_what_are_you_going_to_do_now?” – “Want to go home” – “Okay. I_have_a_friend, Mrs._{Brace}, who_is_going_to_Punctuationville_tomorrow.  She’s_taking_a_boat,_on_the_Backslash_River. It_flows_from_the_north_side_of_Email_to_the_east_side_of_Punctuationville, and_then_back_past_the_south_side_of_Email. You_can_go_with_her.” – “Okay.”

Patrick stayed with U that night at his house. In the morning, he went to the dock on the north side of Email. There he met a beautiful lady. It was Mrs. {Brace}. They got on the boat and sailed to Punctuationville, Mrs. {Brace} was going there to learn the rules too! When they arrived Patrick went straight home and told his parents everything that had happened. He went to school the next day, and made sure to pay attention to all the rules, that way he would know just where he belonged.


To read my dafts, from when I originally did the piece, click here for the PDF.

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