Dot was depressed. She was just an ordinary English full stop and like many of her punctilious friends was frequently abused. She wondered if her life might have been any better if she had been born in America, in which case she would have been a period. She decided that would be worse because she’d then have been confused with something else, and expected to appear in TV adverts playing volley ball in white shorts once a month, and quite possibly waste time pouring blue liquid over things. She was small and perfectly formed, and had once been a well rounded character. The amount of space she took up could be calculated by measuring a line from her belly button to one side, squaring it, and multiplying that by pi. Dot was never quite convinced about the accuracy of this, believing that there had to be some question mark over the fact that pi or 3.1416 etc. etc., went on and on for ever and ever. If this was so, then her vital dimensions would depend upon just how far down this road of decimal places you went. She also had an inbred suspicion of decimal points, regarding them as some kind of full stop impostor. Today was the end of the beginning, with a every chance of becoming the beginning of the end. Dot felt apprehensive: she’d just been released from prison, having completed a very long sentence. She was depressed because although now free to make a Dotted line  in any direction she wanted, she was still haunted by the reason for her incarceration. If only she had listened to her dear old Grammar, who had warned her about insane jealousy! It had all started when her boy friend, Mark, had run off with her best friend all those years ago. She had known then that the sensible thing would have been to Question Mark about it. But instead, she just concentrated on devising ways of ruining his life. First it was just the little things … spreading syntax in the road so that he punctured his car tyres. Then one day she hit him over the head with a closed bracket and put him into a comma for six weeks. When he eventually came round, the journalists were at his bedside, saying, “Give us a Quotation Mark.” But in his weakened state he was only able to give a monosyllabic Exclamation!  Dot had then taken a brief holiday, visiting some of the world’s finest capitals, from each of which she sent home a Capital Letter asking Mark to forgive her. In this way, she had lured him back into her arms, but only so that she could devise new ways of punishing him. She force-fed him illegible words from a Polish dictionary to the extent that once again he found himself in hospital, this time having an operation on his colon. In fact, by the time the surgeons had finished with him he only had a semi-colon and had to suffer the indignities of a Colonstomy Bag. Dot had said she was sorry, but Mark (not surprisingly) felt unable to accept her apostrophe. He took up various dangerous hobbies to take his mind off Dot. One of these was free-falling from high-flying aircraft. It was this that did for Dot. One day, in a particularly dotty frame of mind, she had slipped into the flying club’s store room and sabotaged Mark’s equipment. On his next leap from the aeroplane he plummeted to the ground when his paragraph failed to open. His parentheses had a good idea who was responsible and had several words with the police, emboldened by the knowledge that the evidence would make a superscript for the prosecuting counsel. The jury was indeed impressed, and (ignoring threats from the Italic Mafia) the judge parsed a long sentence on the hapless Dot. And now, finally having served her sentence, here she was, on this damp foggy day, on her way home to her miserable little bed-sit. When she got in, she poured herself a large whisky, with only a very small squirt from the soda hyphen. She tried to cheer herself up by reading an Asterisk comic, but it was no good; she had lost her self respect and felt she was only fit for use as padding between the first and last letters of swear words (and even that would only have been by permission of Asterisk). She resolved to end it all. She drank more and more whisky until she was half cut and pasted. Then she cut a large \ on one wrist and a / on the other. There was a risk she’d make a # of it, but did she? Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Dot Her last words (at least she thought they would be her last words) were, “Thank God I’m an atheist!”. She was then surprised to find herself at the at the Pearly Gates, though she had no idea it would only be temporary. St. Peter reminded her of her “last” words and told her that she was a complete and utter oxymoron. “…and in any case”, says St. Peter, “I’ve already got one dot in my own name - at least when I’m abbreviated, which is quite often with all the communion wine we have here”. I don’t need another one cluttering up the place. Had you been more thoughtful with your final words we could have used you in some of our harp music. You’ve been pretty crotchety in your earthly life, and our Master of Music would quaver in his boots if he knew you were joining us. He’s already having problems with Catholic women who’ve never been able to get the Rhythm Method  quite right, dropping their semi-brieves at all the wrong times.” And with that, he kicked her back downstairs. She opened her eyes in a hospital bed to hear a doctor saying, “You were very lucky those paragraphics were on the ball when they found you.” This time, Dot got her act together. First she decided to have a good long rest by volunteering to appear in one of those prize-winning works of literature that nobody reads mainly because of the rare appearance of full stops. She took an instant dislike to Joyce’s “Ulysses” because the whole of the last chapter was written without a single full stop (except at the very end, of course.) Eventually she was ready to strike out in a completely new direction – the brave new world of the Internet, E-commerce and all that stuff. She had found her true niche. She’d never been so happy (or busy!) for she was now, at last, one of the most important pieces of punctuation in the history of the written word … appearing with stupefying relentlessness in the middle of Website addresses … the brave new world of DOT.COM   Return to Top Prologue The End of the Beginning Epilogue The Future’s Bright - The Future’s Dotty Return to Top Return to Top © Lionel Beck - North Yorkshire - UK The Story of Dot A Day in the Life of a Punctuation Mark © Lionel Beck Dot Dot’s Self-Portrait (Winner in the Aug/Sep 2005 competition)