The semicolon is a haunting being in the world of punctuation. Stuck between structural syntaxes from the start, the semicolon rides the no-man’s-land between sincere appreciation, filppant exploitation, and indifference. It’s less like a no-man’s land and more like the center of a Venn diagram, really.
You walk into its study and there isn’t a cloak in sight. It hates cloaks. It’s playing a modest-sized pipe organ, making a modest-sized tune that flips (modestly) between calming and nerve-wracking.
It’s not going to scare you. It doesn’t want to. It wasn’t created to.
You ask it to pick out a cloak (because you brought a few of them and one might strike the semicolon’s fancy even if it doesn’t normally like them, you know) and it extends two hands that you reach out to hold, and you can faintly feel them in yours — you look down despite a sinking feeling and a hesitant breath that your brain makes you take. Your trembling, incredulous, palms-up hands are all you see. Semicolons don’t have hands, fool.
You ask it to describe itself, and it plays a new little melody on the grey and gold pipe organ (with…with no hands?). When you close your eyes on the high note, it holds the note for a little too long, then lowers its head (semicolons do have heads), stands, and exits softly before your goosebumps can fade.
You look around and realize that you’re not a part of anything that this piece of punctuation is becoming — this has already started to happen and will happen with or without your use of the mark. A world with the semicolon in the wrong circle of the Venn diagram is a world no one should see, but it’s a world that could exist. The most you can do is to trust that it doesn’t swing to that circle, partially because merely imagining a future with a fallen semicolon gives you chills, and partially because panthers live there.
This article is part of a series on punctuation. It’s pretty much all made up. Don’t underestimate the prowess of a panther, though. You’ve been warned.