Our story so far (thanks to Robin at Your Daily Dose for making this all easier on you!): X has presumed too much! The alphabet, ordinarily abstract and quiet, has been upset by X putting ideas into the heads of humans who use letters, and have now convened a meeting to decide whether X must be abolished. A and B have already weighed in, A here and B here. Today, C talks:
That’s how I was invented: camel.
I didn’t originally have any life of my own and shared all my duties with G. We both, G and me, came from something else, a weird-looking symbol that was used to mean a camel.
When people who didn’t have so much to do with camels started thinking about things, too, and needing us to describe those things, needing us to link together and forge alliances and make commitments, I came along for the ride, as it were, and began doing what K mostly does now, kicking and cursing and commiserating and keening.
I stole some work from S, found myself with too much to do, gave K some of my tasks, and have been around for thousands of years.
Which is to say, I can understand X’s position, something I tried to tell him one day.
I think X has always been in love with me.
I should explain, maybe, since nobody else might? I should clarify, construe, clear up something: when we say he, when we say she, when we say we I me you they, about us letters (and when we say us) we are merely dragging along the detritus of what we have learned from you, of what you have made us do. We (we!) are no less the sums of our existences than you are, in our own minds, even if we bear those existences for only the briefest time, time after time.
When you place us on paper, when you write us in the air in smoke, when you speak us aloud to a crowd of people or alone in your bed at night praying to one of the many gods that exist but the only one you believe in, you may think that you are permanently tying us to that thing, or you may think that you are merely creating ephemera, a wisp, a ghost, a dream, a momentary spark. You may think this is a monument, or a smokescreen, this thing you create and pat us onto.
You are right, and you are wrong.
We are pulled out, whisked along in a cataclysmic creating storm, spun through the dance and then grabbed by you, placed, replaced, unplaced displaced misplaced displayed replayed unlaid unmade and then we spin back, carrying only the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest piece of what you have made us be.
We are in your world for a moment far briefer than you can imagine, and the shred of what you make us be that we bring back could not be measured by the finest instruments your scientists could create. As an idea how short that time is, how little that information is, consider this: you can measure an atomic oscillation so brief and so tiny that 9,192,631,770 of them occur in a single second – that is, in fact, the measure of what you call a second, the 9 billion-plus oscillations of a caesium-133 atom.
But you cannot measure how infinitely briefer than a single oscillation of that atom we exist in your world, when you call us down:
Each of these results in my being in your world for less time than you could ever comprehend, but over and over and over and over, in our timeless existence, we are called,
and we dance and are put in stone above catacombs and on paper in catalogs and calligraphed on the hull of a catamaran careening through the Caribbean…
…and then back again, carrying with us the sorrow of the grave, the allure of the material, the feel of salt drying on sunburned cheeks, to dwell in the abstract again, half-alive, half-awake, pondering the things we have learned and leaving behind empires of words and equations and cards and collections and cartoons.
We leave behind the half-sunk shattered visages, the trunkless legs, the colossal wreck, to sink back into chimera.
It was there, in the midst of castles built in air, among the casuistry of my usual existence, such as it is, that X found me and first confided in me.
“Wake up,” X bade me, a command that technically was not correct: I was residing among the cabals, the cabbages, the codicils and cackling cadavers in caverns, pondering the billions of specks that clung to me from the world we visit so often, but I was not asleep.
“What is it?” I asked.
I did not like X, and barely knew him, then or now.
“I have an idea,” he said.
It was this idea, this plan, this contrivance course of action concoction construction that I spelled out to the meeting, when A called it.
“Listen,” I told the other letters: “Listen, for I was there when X created his corrupt, cunning, but calamitous plan, and I told him that he ought not do it, that it was…”
Here, in the meeting of all the letters, a rare call to action in the abstraction of our existences, I pause, but not for dramatic effect. I pause simply because voicing such cursed accusations of another letter requires one to think through one’s actions, yet again, as I had been doing for what could be eons or could have been moments (they are all the same to us)
I pause, and pausing, then I said what I had replied to X, back when he first told me.
I told him “This plan is evil.”
X left me then.
I tell that to the group of letters, to the collected combined crowd clustered around. “I told him: This plan is evil.”
And X left me, and thereafter I avoided him in the dance and watched with dismay as he continued his ploy, as he continued to try to be more and more and more.
I understand about being more, about becoming. After all, I needed to establish myself as more than a camel, as more than a misshapen incomplete G, but there are limits and what X had proposed – perhaps he thought me a partner? If so, he misjudged; perhaps he thought me a lover? If so, he misjudged – what X had proposed was so much more than simply becoming more than one was.
I said that, too, to the group, as I cast my vote: : “X misjudged me. I have loved many in my time, I have partnered with many, I have spelled and sung and written and mused and cried, capered, clapped, called, but never have I been confronted with such a heinous design as what X told me that day.”
“X must go,” I told the alphabet, siding with A, “For X has presumed himself a god.”