The Disappearance of I
by Nathaniel Tower
One day in recent memory, the capital i went missing. it caused quite a stir. The letter’s dotted counterpart was still around, which arose some suspicion, but the tall and bold symmetrical being was nowhere to be found.
Perhaps the letter ran away because it felt so underappreciated. After all, hundreds of millions of people depended upon its existence, yet it had never heard so much as a “thank you” in all its time.
The letter A, in the convention of the letters, had a different theory. “i, for one, knew this day was coming. That self-important i undoubtedly was kidnapped or murdered because of his arrogance. To demand capitalization in the middle of a sentence. i also stand alone many times in a sentence, but i never demand any such treatment. The fool brought this upon himself.”
These words, of course, brought suspicion upon A as well.
"Look who's talking," E roared. "How could anyone who is always first say that someone else is arrogant? I do agree though, that this was a crime of jealousy." E stared directly at A with these words. A did not back down.
The other vowels spoke up as well, with most of the consonants keeping to themselves. Q and X hadn’t even bothered showing up, and Z was sound asleep through the majority of the meeting.
"Personally, i think that this will be good for the world," O claimed robustly. "it's about time that all of us letters are seen as equals."
"Ha," shouted Y. "Equals my foot. You know nothing about equals. You know not what it is like to be left out of both parties. i, for one, know how i felt."
"Ridiculous," A bellowed. "To compare yourself to i is absurd. i know more than you what i went through. i, like i, know what it is like to be constantly depended on. When does anyone depend on you?"
"Well, maybe if more people depended on Y than we wouldn't be in this mess," U claimed.
Once they realized that their bickering and accusations were getting nowhere, they asked the little i what he thought had happened. "Don't know," was all the little guy said. it seemed to others there that the little i said it smugly, as if he were pleased with his increased exposure. The other little letters looked around at each other thinking how wonderful it would be to get rid of their capital friends. Although the little letters were used far more, the big ones thought they were so important, and the voices of the little ones were stifled at any of the meetings of the letters. it was a wonder that they even cared about what little i thought. if they hadn't suspected him though, they wouldn't have even asked him.
"What are we going to do?" W asked, unsure of how to solve the problem but desperately wanting to bring back his friend. it was no secret that, in spite of their distance in the alphabet, the two were very close.
The voices murmured, tears fell, accusations flew. Finally, E took charge. "We need to be sensible here. Let's create a task force of letters. We must solve this problem quickly. People are depending on us to come together. The power is in our hands."
"Who is in favor of a task force to find big i?" A inquired. Several arms shot in the air. After a few moments of pondering, A agreed that a task force was the best thing to do.
E was placed in charge of the task force. B, D, G, and N were assigned as well. Their job duties were unclear other than they had to find i and bring him back. They didn't know where to begin, but each was excited about being named to the force. This was the opportunity to really shine. Some of the little letters even offered to help.
G and N missed capital i the most. They found him charming. Now they simply hoped they would find him.
The letters searched and searched, but to no avail. Within days, the letters and the people seemed to agree not to start sentences with i or to refer to themselves by that standalone first person letter. Before an hour had passed following this agreement, people realized just how difficult it was and longed for the big fellow to come back. They surely could still use i, but it just wasn’t the same without its majestic parallel lines.
Several days later, that tall I came storming back. “I knew you guys would miss me,” was the first thing he said. They all groaned, but were secretly happy that their arrogant friend had returned. No one bothered to ask him where he had been. They all just figured he would tell them when he was ready.
Nathaniel Tower writes fiction and teachers English. He has been published in a few dozen literary magazines. He is the founder and editor of Bartleby Snopes, an online literary magazine devoted to fiction (www.bartlebysnopes.com).