Benjamin Solomon

He was sentenced to a sentence without end or significant pause, a sentence to serve as punishment for all the sentences he had previously left un-ended, sentences he had left as run-ons, sentences he had let run off his body like water, sentences he had constructed with only subordinate clauses and forgotten about, leaving them without objects, un-objectified, abject, solemn and depressed, these sentences without a sense of closure that stood in lines in the bureaucratic buildings of his mind, chewing their lips and wondering if he would ever deign to see them again, admit them to his bookshelf-lined office, sit them before his mahogany desk and ask them the question they longed to be asked, which concerned their earnest hopes for completion, for detail, for something to act upon, something to affect, because a sentence desires change, however paltry and insignificant, however predictable, however bland, and if change could have happened to at least one of these sentences, perhaps his own sentence would not have been so harsh and long, perhaps those in charge would have taken pity on him and levied him with a minor sentence, a lenient sentence, a sentence that had strict and definite pauses, verifiable breaks, or maybe even multiple sentences to be served in consecutive order, each one filling in a new portion of the story he would have to compose now that he had been officially sentenced, a story of repentance, expressing sorrow and guilt and the desire to change, always to change, and to allow any sentences he composed in the future to also change, even end if they so chose, because choice was at the core of his sentence, the choices he had made to deny choices to sentences, the choices he had made to abandon them in fields, in cities, in deserts with only participles in their little unstructured stomachs, without syntax or with silly syntax, or taxed with overly simple noun and verb agreement, sentences who deserved a chance but never got it because he was too busy thinking of new, more interesting sentences that eclipsed the old ones but did not destroy them, for a sentence once composed, even partially, will never decompose, because sentences are not like bodies, not like vegetables, sentences are not organic matter, rather they are more like stones piled on top of sand, and they sink into the sand when left alone, but never disappear, and that was the aspect of his sentence that he feared most, the fact that his sentence would never end, not properly anyway, not in the manner that every sentence dreams of ending, with the orgasmic finality of the period, the punctuation kind of period, not the span of time, which was the only period he would be getting, an endless period of uninterrupted time in which his endless sentence would run on and on forever inside the cold concrete walls of his jail-cell, scribbled in pencil until the pencil ran out, and thereafter in blood from the tips of his fingers, and always under strict observation by closed circuit camera to make sure he never attempted to punctuate his sentence and bring it to an end, shocking him with the electric collar around his neck if it ever appeared that he was trying to end his sentence, or if his language indicated that he was beginning to sum up, or if the words as they appeared in the Computer Generated Sentence Graph in the surveillance office showed signs of nearing some sort of finality, or if the English majors employed to monitor his endless sentence felt that he was trying to reach a conclusion or even a hint of a point that could be construed as a bridge towards finishing, which happened often because the English majors were interested in alternate careers in criminology and behavioral sciences and wanted to see the effects of electric shock upon the man who had received the endless sentence in punishment for his inconsiderate sentencing of the past, and each secretly delighted in the bulging eyes, dripping spittle, and apoplectic seizures of his body which itself was an incomplete sentence, a hopelessly dependent clause, he having been born with only one functioning limb







The idea was to write a one-sentence story, and its themes probably sprang from a sense of guilt over all the unfinished work stored away in little forgotten files, waiting to be actualized or even just acknowledged.