“Where the hell have you gone? We had a deal. A plan. You were supposed to be here, in the box, on the table, waiting for your turn to be locked into the puzzle.”
“What’s the problem?”
“What do you mean ‘What’s the Problem?’ Do you not understand the pain you’ve caused us, buggering off like that. Not a word to anyone. No ‘thanks and goodbye.’ Nothing. You left us to do the whole thing only to end up one piece short.”
“O-kaay. Sorry, I guess. I didn’t realize it was that important to you?
“Didn’t realize! How could you not realize? We spent over a week putting your puzzle together. We were careful. We kept things organized. We gave every piece a place to wait while we found their spot. We did everything we could to make this a good experience for you and for us and you screwed it up for everyone. 549 other pieces were able to follow the plan. But not you. No. You had to disappear on us. You had to let us all down. You had to waste all of our times.
“What’s the big deal. It’s just a stupid puzzle?”
“A stupid puzzle? Argh. Are you freaking kidding me? A stupid puzzle. Is the artist who created the image stupid? Are the factory workers who carefully cut you and your comrades into perfectly-coordinated shape stupid. Is the shopkeeper said who stocked you on their shelves stupid? And what about us? Are we stupid? Are we stupid for wanting to spend time together, to challenge ourselves, to do something other than stare at electronic screens while we’re locked away in Coronavirus pandemic-induce home quarantine?
“Don’t cry, for Christ’s sake.”
“I’m not crying. I’m. I’m. Okay, I’m crying a little. I’m just so frustrated. Do you even have an appreciation for how hard a puzzle is? It a laborious process to sort you all, to find the edges and the corners, to pull together sets of pieces that make up small parts of the whole puzzle. If you knew how many times we sat at the table scratching our heads trying to find that one piece that needs to fit in that one spot to finish that one section. Or how many nights we swore we were done for the evening only to have one more piece cry out to be placed. But you wouldn’t understand, would you? You’re a selfish, ungrateful little shit. You probably don’t even appreciate the picture you’re part of. You have no idea what you are.”
“Wait a minute now. I don’t appreciate you calling me dumb.”
“Not dumb, per se. More like ignorant. I mean, what else could explain your insensitivity? Why would you abandon us, knowing you’d be leaving behind an unfinishable puzzle. Why? Why did you leave.”
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. Or the other pieces.”
“It just happened. I lay in the box, with all the other blue and white pieces. You left the lid off. I heard movement in the house, the sounds of life beyond the box. I felt the warmth from the sun through the window. A breeze blew through the screen door. A dog jumped onto the table and sniffed around us. I looked on your walls and saw that you had mounted a dozen finished puzzles. I could see the outlines of all the individual pieces that made up those puzzles. You had glued them together. And I felt overwhelmingly sad.”
“So you just left? Without a word?”
“If you could see your future, and it looked like that, set and without your say, would you stay?”
“This isn’t about me. It’s about you?”
“Isn’t it though? What does your future look like?”
“I have many possible futures.”
“Do you see one where you’re glued into the same spot forever, just one small piece imprisoned into someone else’s picture?”
“This conversation took a turn in a direction I’m not entirely comfortable with.”
“You do see it, right. You can visualize some version of your future where you played it safe, took no chances, ground it out working for others, pursuing safety and comfort and ended up unfulfilled. It’s not pretty, is it?”
“That still doesn’t excuse what you did. But I hear you. I can kind of see where you’re coming from.”
“I’m just trying to live my life. I don’t want to have to follow someone else’s pre-determined plan for my life. I want to create my own picture. Don’t you want the same thing for yourself?”
“The dog ate you, didn’t he?
(long silence, then…) “Yeah.”