Mother Dictionary was in a dither. When she woke up that morning, she felt slightly...abridged. She fluttered her pages. Something was definitely amiss, something she couldn’t define.
Everything appeared to be in order. A, B, C, D, E, F, and G were practicing their musical scales. L, M, N, O, and P were reading in a corner. Even X, Y, and Z were behaving. She did a head count. “...23, 24, 25...”
Someone was missing.
“Everyone, come here,” said Mother Dictionary, “I want to have a word with you. Line up. Are you all here? Does anyone know who’s missing?”
A answered automatically.
C counted and confirmed.
D, determined to defend himself, delivered a diatribe.
E was enthusiastic, but evasive.
F felt faint.
H hollered, “Here.”
I ignored the invitation.
J just jumped.
K knew something. (Her knees kept knocking.)
M made mention of a meeting.
O offered an ovation.
Q ... No one was there.
“Has anyone seen Q?”
R responded reluctantly.
S said, “Sorry.”
U understandably upset, utterly unraveled. “She’s gone,” he ululated, “I found this note.”
Dear Mother Dictionary,
I’m tired of being a middle letter. Children rush past me when they sing the alphabet song. I hardly ever get to do anything by myself. K has agreed to take over all my phonetic responsibilities.
Mother Dictionary sighed, “She always was -uarrelsome, -uick to -uibble and -uestion. Nevertheless, she’s part of the family. Everyone look around. We must find her.”
They searched every -uadrant. She wasn’t at the pond where the confused ducks -uacked helplessly.
She wasn’t at the castle where the -ueen was in a -uandary. Her -uarterly council couldn’t raise a -uorum.
Back in town, the musicians found themselves unable to form -uartets or -uintets, let alone play -uarter notes. Poets despaired of trying to compose a -uatrain. Mathematicians and scientists were in a -uagmire; with no -uadratics or -uotients, they couldn’t tell a -uartz from a -uasar. Chaos reigned at the library where the librarians couldn’t keep everyone -uiet. Copies of Don -uixote windmilled from the bookshelves.
They perused paragraphs and scanned sentences. They dug through definitions, mined meanings, and examined every entry. The missing letter was nowhere to be found.
Dinner was exquisite. The banquet had seventeen courses.
“I found her,” called Mother Dictionary, “She was hiding in the middle of that non sequitur.”
Their quest was over.
“Q, why did you go into quarantine?” Mother Dictionary questioned.
“I was feeling quite queasy from taking quizzes and completing questionnaires,” Q quipped, “I just wanted to go into my Quonset hut and hide under a quilt.”
“We’d like to have you back among us. Without you in the alphabet, we’re below our quota.”
“I’ll return to my quarters in exchange for one thing.”
“Quid pro quo?”
“That’s right. I’d like a new job. You have to admit, with all my experience with U, I’m qualified for a leadership position. I’d like to move to the front of the queue.”
“I hate to quell your ambitions, but I can’t move you up in the alphabet. It goes against the law of the letter. However, there is a quality position open on the keyboard.”
“If you have no qualms, we could make it QWERTY.”
Q quickly acquiesced.
And that’s how Q made her debut. A questionable tale. Quote, unquote.
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