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; ;;;; ;;; Spells I Love You in Semicolons

by Georgia Bellas

; ;;;; ;;; spells I love you in semicolons, a language no one speaks. She writes notes to herself in this semicolonese, G; e; t; space bar m; i; l; k; She whispers each letter aloud with every tap of the semicolon key. Her grocery list looks like this:



;;;;;; ;;;;;

;;;;;;; ;;;;


(milk, bread, orange juice, hamster food).


Her doctor appointments are circled on the calendar, times filled in with ;:;; or ;;:;; or ;:;;.


Her home, her pockets, her car, her weekly planner are filled with notes and markings, the exact nuance behind every little semicolon etched in her fingers, eyeballs, tongue.


She mails letters—the recipient’s address carefully written in standard English letters but her return address in the upper left-hand corner a neat calligraphy of semicolons:


;;;;; ;;;;

;;; ;;;;;;;; ;;;.

;;;;;;;;;;;, ;; ;;;;;


The letters are composed in semicolonese, lovingly handwritten with her fine point pen, or sometimes typed on a 1918 restored Underwood typewriter, on stationery she makes herself from recycled junk mail.


No one has ever deciphered a single semicolon she wrote.


Her heart beats in semicolons. She dreams in semicolons, bathes in semicolons, plants seeds of semicolons in her window garden.


She's taken to eating semicolons right from the jar with a spoon and drinking them straight from the bottle. Her t-shirts are stained with semicolons. Her sheets crunchy with dried semicolon crumbs.


Her hamster runs more slowly in his wheel. She hasn't fed him in days. His name is ;;;;.


Semicolons pile up. Some forgotten in the back of the fridge are slowly going bad. She doesn’t take out the trash, and the semicolons start to smell. Unwashed semicolons spread out from the sink like petri dishes of blossoming bacterial colonies.


It's not just the semicolons that start to smell. It's two weeks before they find her body, curled like a comma on the bathroom floor, a Post-it note in her neat script stuck to the tile a space above her head:


; ;; ;;; ;;;;;;

Author's Note

Semicolons join, connect, separate. But in Greek, a semicolon is a question mark. nopunctuationbutyoustillunderstandmetheysaywecouldtakeawayallthevowelsandwewillstillreadthebrainisacrazywonderfulthingbuthowdoweconnectandseparateandquestionandhowcananyonethingoranyonepersondoitallbutstillwetrydontwe



Sometimes I’m tired of words. Sometimes I’m tired of talking. But still I try to connect. 


I had a specific address and times in mind when I counted out the semicolons in this piece; I don’t remember them now. But I hope I won’t forget what the last line says.

Georgia Bellas is the Fiction Features Editor at Atticus Review. Her work appears in Cheap Pop, Split Lip Magazine, People Holding, Sundog Lit, WhiskeyPaper, and [PANK], among other journals, and is also included in Sundress Publications' 2014 Best of the Net Anthology. You can follow her teddy bear, host of the weekly Internet radio show "Mr. Bear's Violet Hour Saloon," on Twitter @MrBearStumpy.

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