Consider the Comma

by Sean Fitting

Consider the comma. Less than one tiny space between order and the chaos of the multitudes of unchained FANBOYs. Fingers hovering over the pause button, trying to freeze a pop song in a vain effort to decode the lyrics. “Reved like a douche?” Listening closely reveals the comma to be the great whoosh of waves breaking on the beach and the softness of a baby’s first breath; the time between the Big Bang and the universe. Mad Aldus Manutius’s stylistic slash separating subject from predicate, separating strings of data, separating days from months separating the time it takes for the sound of a gun to reach the ears of its victim, the fraction of a second between the bullet piercing the flesh: tumbling, tearing organs; separating the victim from the last breath; closing the parenthetical expression. All breaths together make up a single story in the saga of human existence, the single story summed up by a long list of thing separated by Oxford commas. The California rolling stop on the late to work morning commute when a cop sleepy from the grave shift is too tired to go looking for go cart Mozart’s funky breaks. A comma is the second before the sun breaks the horizon; turning the night into the day, pausing before the light world leaps to life and darkness descends into slumber. Primordial commas predate punctuation; they are found, or created, when we need a breath; lungs need oxygen, hearts gasp for life, heads spit seconds processing each single drop in a sea of information. Commas indicate awk-ward breaks in conversations, and countless hours on hold waiting to pay the phone bill; listening to the spaces between the notes of the endless elevator music. The high diver stares into the pool below, collecting her thoughts, before surrendering to the muscle memory and warm water as the calliope crashes to the ground. Struggling with commas means struggling with arcane rules that predate St. Augustine and Plato, the struggle is between control and powerlessness. The struggle is between breathing and breathlessness. The struggle is between growth and entropy. The struggle is between order and chaos. The struggle is to know if the world ends with a period, or with a comma.

Sean Fitting worked, among other jobs, as a printer, a cook and a custodian while attending Palomar Community College and Cal. State San Marcos where he majored in Economics and Social Sciences. After graduation, he worked as a librarian while attending The University of San Diego School of Law. He currently is an attorney for the State of New Mexico. This is his first published piece of creative writing.