Words, Words, Words

Melodie Corrigall


It had been a day entangled in language. And not their language: the language of those who would destroy the earth. But they relied on it, it was the only tongue they all understood and, if the vote tomorrow was to favor a possible future, the wording had to satisfy every parochial interest.

Time to call it a day. She could do no more to prepare. It was getting dark and she was no night owl.

“There’s still one complainant waiting to talk to you,” her assistant said poking her head around the door.

“I have to get out of here. I need to rest up for tomorrow.”

“He’s most insistent, cawing his head off.”

“Is it who I think?”

“It is but you have to humor him. His support is crucial.”

“He knows we’ve done all we can on his issue.”

“But not enough,” he said as he coasted towards her.

These were the moments she questioned why she had ever thought the job would be exciting. Maybe it was the idea that she, like the biblical Solomon, would have an opportunity to make wise decisions that affected those involved.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

First, like the other global body that tried to negotiate peaceful resolutions to avoid conflict, the Organization had no real authority. And as most of the complaints were about their nemesis—who would not even listen to her voice or read her messages—suggesting a just resolution was useless.

And every day, on less crucial issues, there were more applicants at her door, demanding some resolution often to longtime grievances. Sometimes things would be resolved because of mutual concern for global survival. Only one group never considered this justification for joint efforts.

Pride goeth before the fall. Such was the anthropoid saying, and it was true. She had been so caught up in the moment, so proud that she had been chosen as the leader that, although she knew full well the problems—had ranted about them for years—she had jumped right in when asked to serve.

Now here she was, head honcho, responsible for directing what would probably be the most challenging meeting since the group was amalgamated, and that pest was pacing up and down in front of her, thrashing over the ‘words’ issue. Who cared about words and categories designed by a foreign group when vital discussions were at stake?

The problem with the Organization, rife as it was with good intentions, was that it had no power. Not a dot. They had tried to demonstrate their resolutions; taken unprecedented and dramatic actions like when the martyr dolphins beached themselves, but to no avail. Some witnesses couldn’t read a sign if it were in neon and ten feet tall.

Many of them pretended that the natural world—which they continued to destroy—was just going through a sulky period and would soon be back to normal. Well, the polar bears in their passionate—and scientifically accurate—presentations to the Organization had made it clear that even should the heating trend be curbed few of them would be around to cheer.


The resolution to be presented the next day was, in her opinion, necessary if they hoped to move forward. At some level every living creature, except the collaborators, of course, knew that they either moved forward together or, one by one, they would be decimated. They needed a plan of action.

“So, what can I do for you today?” She spoke to her restless plaintiff, attempting to keep her voice level.

“It’s about the language,” he said. “I know you want to put the discussion off to another meeting and try to get your resolution…”

“Not mine, the work of many.”

“Fine, fine and we’re amongst them but before it comes up, I want to have the Language Resolution passed.”

“It’ll take the whole day: every speaker will bring up personal anecdotes.”

“We can limit the debate.”

“Why is this so important? What do you care what words are used to describe you whether flattering or abusive?”

“Had they been flattering, or any acknowledgement of our accomplishments, it might be different. Instead, we’ve been classified in the most offensive way. Terms like lazy or less intelligent, which have been used on others, are nothing to what we are labeled.”

“What will it take to get your issue on and off the agenda quickly? We need to move to the major resolution, which is difficult enough to win the vote, especially since we still don’t have support from all the groups. Some, such as the domestics—full and semi—think they are doing alright and will be hard to convince otherwise.”

“No surprise there. why would you want to give up a good thing if you’ve been waited on hand and foot, indulged, even worshiped?”

“You would if you had the brains to see your caregivers are on their way out, that all your life skills have been stripped from you and you couldn’t last in the wild for a long winter’s night on your own.”

“Tell them that.”

“And, although they aren’t going to be amongst the voting delegates tomorrow, our smallest possible confederates, particularly the most resilient group, also pretend not to care.”

“Why should they? They’ve lasted with their primitive ways since the dawn of time and will probably see us out. Additionally, we must ensure they only get a percentage vote because of their size, if and when they join us, that is.”

“Are you saying some pigs are more equal than others?”

“You see, you not only use their language, you use their stories.”

“Global literature.”

“Balderdash. Will you put my resolution forward or not?”

“An hour is all I can give you, then pass or fail it’s off the agenda.”


“I’m curious. Why do you insist on fiddling around with words instead of focusing on ways to change the things; especially as the world is already spinning towards extinction?”

“Every evening when we head home from our day’s adventure feeling well fed and content with our own company, we risk abuse. If we stop on the way, and a human hanging about below sees us, he or she shrieks, ‘Look, it’s like in the movie: hordes of them dark and threatening. What’s is it?’ ‘Well’ says another, imaging himself a clever linguist, ‘it's a murder of crows.’”


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Melodie Corrigall is an eclectic Canadian writer whose work has appeared in Foliate Oak, Litro UK, Halfway Down the Stairs, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Corner Bar Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Subtle Fiction, Emerald Bolts and The Write Place at the Write Time

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Editor: L. Naisula
Cover art: Shompole, N.L.