It was a four-year puzzle, really, the kind you must tend to everyday and even then, it’s never finished. Now, it lies strewn in pieces. In silence he retrieved the pieces to place them together; how they belonged and had once been. The instant callousness in his fingertips rendered the pieces’ texture numb. He pushed together the easy pieces while the unrecognizable ones were kept off to the side, but still very close. People tried to intervene and disrupt his task, but he would have none of that. Others just watched or walked away. He stood up and looked over the puzzle. One piece was missing. Frantically, he looked around, spotted it, and picked it up. Longing for its softness, he lifted it, gently rubbing it on his cheek and smelling a hint of fingernail polish as part of it brushed just under his nose. Before connecting that last piece, he looked at it. If only, he thought, he had held this little hand like he held it now, perhaps she wouldn’t have run in front of the speeding car.
The Puzzle by Denis M. Sheehan