Puzzle Pieces

August 29, 2010
I sit, squinting at the wooden table. The stout lamp squatting on the window seat does a poor job of illuminating the room. Puzzle pieces are sprawled across the table in jumbled piles as I attempt to organize them by different shades of green. Because it’s a picture solely of trees, the puzzle mostly consists of greens—grass greens, bugger greens, granny smith apple greens, moss green, etc.

When I asked my grandma for a puzzle for Christmas, I didn’t realize she’d pick out a six hundred piece forest scene. My eyes must have bugged out a bit when I saw it, because Granny rubbed my back in that calming way of hers and told me she’d do it with me. We’d take it piece by piece.

The memory transforms my eyes into an aqueduct, and my vision begins to swim. Instantly my hand flies to my eyes and I rub the would-be tears away. Thinking back to Christmas, Granny and I got through almost half of the puzzle before her stroke. Now she’s in the hospital, unable to speak, let alone work on a puzzle.

Suddenly, rage storms through me. Furiousness at Granny for leaving me alone with this stupid unfinished puzzle. My fingers blindly fumble to find the right pieces.

I nearly scream in frustration—nothing is going the way I want it to. Nothing fits. Granny should be here with me, patiently sorting through the many greens. This is not how it’s supposed to be. I want to bend and warp the different aspects of my life until it winds up the correct way.

Suddenly, the lights come on, interrupting my thoughts. My little sister pads into the room, rubbing her eyes. Fuzzy chocolate hair surrounds her head. I cringe. When my others ask if I have any pets, I reply yes. A pet sister. Surprisingly, she says nothing. She merely pulls up a stool and plops down beside me. I want to tell her to go to bed, to leave, to GO AWAY. But, for some reason, I don’t.

For a while, she just stares at me. Continuing sifting through the pieces, hunting for the correct one, I don’t acknowledge her. My little sister begins to fidget, and then begins to look through the puzzle pieces too. Initially I don’t say anything, but then she starts jamming mismatched puzzle pieces into inappropriate places.

“Stopit!” I snap. Startled, my sister looks at me with wide eyes. “Just. Stop. I am having enough trouble finishing the puzzle as it is, and I don’t need your help making it worse.” I know my sister is undeserving of my wrath, but I can’t seem to stop the volcano of words erupting from my mouth. “Sometimes, the pieces just don’t fit. But there’s nothing you can do about it! Don’t try to smash the pieces into places that they don’t fit in to. It’s ok though, because every piece does have its correct place; you just need to be patient, and you’ll find the right place for it.” My words are beginning to melt, and become softer. “When you first look at the jumble of pieces, it doesn’t look like there’s any possible way they could all fit together. But in the end, they do.”

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Krikette This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm
Quite well written. I was especially struck by this line and it's allusion to the theme of puzzles "I nearly scream in frustration—nothing is going the way I want it to. Nothing fits." Nice use of a puzzle as a metaphor for life.
JillianNora said...
Oct. 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I really like how the whole thing flows into each other, first the reference to how the character doesn't understand why their grandmother is sick and then going on to say in the end, everyhting fits. Very well written:)

(If you're bored, I'd love some feedback! TeenInk.com/novels/other/book/77593/Stuck-in-the-Past/ )

nextJKRowling said...
Sept. 15, 2010 at 3:42 pm

pretty awesome article.

Needs a better ending i think thou

AbbieLou said...
Aug. 31, 2010 at 11:35 am
This is such a good story! never stop writing ;)
inksplatters21 replied...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm
Thanks so much--i never plan on stopping
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