Killer Parentheses (A NaNoWriMo Short)

One day while talking with a friend on Facebook, I forgot to close my parentheses. It happens occasionally to all of us, of course, but I couldn’t resist taking it in a little different (and horrifying) direction.

The parentheses are a little known killer. Everyone assumes they’re adorable little punctuation marks (and you have to admit, they kinda are), but there’s a danger lurking within their midst, one that has people whispering deep into the night:

Close your parentheses.

People keep using parentheses (and really, sometimes they’re necessary), some with the knowledge of what happens when the words are let loose (but they are, of course, incredibly careful to add the closing parenthesis), and others who don’t. It’s the ones who don’t who suffer.

Close your parentheses, the survivors plead.

What can one little parenthesis do? It’s not the parentheses you must worry about: it’s what they contain.

Words can seem safe, all cocooned in their parentheses—and that’s exactly what they want you to think. That they won’t harm you. That the words will soothe you. That you have control. You never have control.

Close your parentheses.

Parents tell their children stories of missing parentheses, laughing when they come crawling into bed with them later, but comforted by the knowledge that they’ve done what they could to prevent their children from becoming the next victims.

Close your parentheses.

The last time it happened—when the parentheses weren’t closed, leaving the words to roam and maim and kill—they splashed the story all over the news, wrote about it in the newspaper (for the few who still read it) and online (where most everyone gets their news), and whispered to their neighbors.

“Did you see the blood?”

“I heard she wasn’t even recognizable. The words and their razor sharp teeth tore into her flesh and ripped her apart.”

“She was so full of life. How could she be gone? And to be the victim of the words…”

“Didn’t anyone warn her about the words?”

And that night, all the parents whispered to their children:

Close your parentheses. Or the words will murder you in your sleep.

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