Life is a Puzzle, You and I the Pieces — A Short Story

Life is an infinite puzzle, and I was a piece
that didn’t know its own shape. I couldn’t count the number of my own sides. I couldn’t see whether they were round or
sharp. I couldn’t tell if my edges were filled with
holes or if they stuck out. I wondered what the puzzle was of and where
my place was within it. I hungered for answers, so I journeyed out
into the vast puzzle space. I discovered myself through the other pieces—it
was the only way I knew how. I placed my edges against theirs to see if
there was a fit. Sometimes we connected and sometimes not,
but I always learned something about the shape of myself. I looked at the images placed on the pieces
I didn’t connect with, and I thought that mine must be different. I looked at the images of those I connected
with, and I thought that mine might be similar. I still remember my first real connection. My side perfectly interlocked with another,
and our images lined up to form one that was more beautiful. I felt like I belonged. For days, we admired each other’s images and
debated what the puzzle was all about. But as more pieces connected around us, I
felt their edges pushing against mine. Their images came together beautifully around
me, and I started to feel that I might be in the wrong place. I wish I could say I listened to that feeling
and left, but I stayed. Comfort and security prevented me from leaving
and finding the place where I belonged. Instead of becoming myself and finding my
place in the puzzle, I became a piece that I wasn’t in a place that wasn’t mine. As the wrong pieces gathered around me, I
forced myself into the space between them. My sides began to bend and warp. I became something that I wasn’t. The edges of the other pieces deformed around
me too. Piece after piece continued to gather around
and a pressure built up inside me. I began to buckle. Another piece came, and another, and another,
and their image was beautiful and true, and I was a lie stuck in the middle. The force from a thousand pieces pushed against
me, and when I thought I just might snap in half, I popped out of place. I stood alone—ashamed, warped, broken. I was a shadow of my former self. Everyone could see the lie I had lived in
my deformed edges. It was pitiful. I looked back at the place I had once called
home and saw that the other pieces were relieved that I was gone. Their deformed edges began to heal. And soon, the right piece would come along
to fill in the spot that I once did. And I wondered how long I kept him from finding
*his* place. I needed to be alone, so I walked away. I wish I listened to that feeling I had earlier,
but I stayed. I found it harder to leave an okay situation
than a bad one. Even when I felt things were wrong, I told
myself that maybe *I* was wrong. I stayed longer than I should have. I wasted time and allowed my sides to warp. But my sides deformed so slowly that when
things had finally gone from okay to bad, I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell anymore if I was the problem
or if it was another piece. I couldn’t tell if I had finally fit in or
if I was just too warped to know that I didn’t. As I walked alone, I felt my edges starting
to heal. I was becoming myself again. If being around the wrong pieces bent me out
of shape, maybe solitude had the ability to bring me back. Only without the pressure from others were
my edges able to assume their natural shape. And it’s funny, being alone was what I feared
most—it’s why I held on so desperately to my place. But I felt less alone now than I did with
the wrong pieces. Once more, I faced the vast puzzle space. I didn’t know if I’d find my place, but I
wanted to try. Somewhere out there, the right pieces awaited my arrival.

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