Fiction: Editing Is/Are Iterative

bookjacket“It’s singular.”

“No, it’s plural.”

Jill and Sasha are editing a memo for Parker.

“Say it out loud and you’ll hear it.”

“I did. It’s singular.”

“You weren’t saying it properly. Try again.”

“Let’s move on. We can come back to it.”

“There are a number of reasons why we should not move on, Jill. There! Did you hear how right that sounded?”

“There is a number. A number. ‘A’ means ‘one’ means ‘is’. There is a mouse. There is a house.”

“Not in a house, not with a mouse. It simply isn’t ‘is’. Why won’t you listen to reasons?”

“The expression is ‘listen to reason’. One. Singular.”

“It was a play on words to emphasize why I’m right.”

Nancy walks into the office.

“Nancy, we have a question for you.”

Nancy says, “Did you hear that Margaret is leaving?”

“What when why?”

“There are probably a number of reasons why.”

“Give it up, Sasha.”

“Actually, it’s just one big reason.”


“Nice try. With just one you wouldn’t use ‘a number of’.”

“What are you guys talking about?”

“If you want to say ‘a number of reasons’ is it ‘ther—”


“Shh! You didn’t hear it from me. Oh, hi Margaret!”

Margaret walks into the office.

“Why the powwow? Good gossip?”

“Margaret, is it ‘there is’ or ‘there are’?”

“Excuse me?”

“As in, ‘there is slash are a number of reasons? Like, a number of reasons why you’r—”


“What? Oh.”

“Shh what?”

“I was going to say there is slash are a number of reasons why we’re having a powwow.”

“Which are?”

“No, she was asking you to—”

“Ha! See, I told you! She said ‘which are’. Are! Plural!”

“I’m confused. Anyways, did you guys hear Parker is leaving?”

“What when why?”

“There are a number of—”

“Shut up, Sasha.”

“But I thought you were the one who—”

“Shut up, Nancy. Wait, why is it me saying that to you?”

“Do you guys want to know why he’s leaving or not?”

“It depends on how many reasons there are.”

“There is. Ugh. It sounds awful there. Totally different situation!”

“It’s the same!”

“You guys are not making any sense. I knew there was a reason I never come over here.”

“There was! Is. You heard it!”

“Nice try again. With just one you still don’t use ‘a number of’. But the adverb was a red herring all along.”

“Do you want to know or not? I’ve got a three o’clock meeting.”

“Okay, why?”

“Why do we ever have meetings?”

“No, I was asking—”

“I know! A joke! A joke!”

“Fine. I’m just going to tell you. His wife went into labor. He’s leaving to take her to the hospital. Parker’s going to be a daddy!”

“Oh, leaving leaving. Not leaving leaving.”

“Isn’t it exciting?”

“We thought you meant he was leaving leaving.”

“Is that why you’re leaving too? Does he need you to go with for some reason?”

“No, I told you, I have a three o’clock meeting, which I’m about to be late for.”

“So then you really are leaving leaving?”

“What? Where did you hear that? Nancy? Nancy, that was just between us!”

Margaret storms out.

“There are a number of reasons why you’re an idiot right now.”

“There is a number of reasons.”

“Make that a number of reasons plus one.”

“Well that would finally make it plural then, wouldn’t it?”

“I can’t take any more of this. I’m leaving, and there are two obnoxious reasons why.”

“Leaving leaving?”

Nancy storms out.

“She said ‘there are’. And that’s the end of it.”

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