We own a total of one puzzle in our house.
It’s a grey, beat up box, a present from a family friend many years ago. It lives on the top of our game shelf and it only gets taken down every few months. The ninety-nine pieces of the puzzle depict an old family photo; I had to have been eleven or twelve.
The six of us dressed in our matching blue-tones, posing deep in the woods and smiling at the photographer as if a funny joke had been cracked.
As I opened the box, spreading the pieces across my carpeted floor, I couldn’t help but think of the smiling, little girl illustrated.
The little girl who could read a book a day.
She’d pretend to be asleep but as soon as her parents went to bed she’d turn her bedroom light on and flip through the pages of her newest adventure. Before she knew it the clock would read three and she’d gently fold the page of the book over and set it down next to her. She kept her favorite book displayed on her bedside table like a trophy, proud of how many times she’d read it.
I don’t have a favorite book anymore.
Instead of spending my nights reading, I spend them wrapping up assignments and talking to friends. I only read the books assigned in my English class.
I envy the little girl who could fall asleep in the blink of an eye.
Now, I toss and turn running through scenarios and conversations that’ll never happen. My brain hosts a play-by-play of my whole day, dissecting each interaction and picking apart the things that I should have done and said instead.
As I finished the border of the puzzle and moved to the center, I began to wonder what the smiling, little girl would think of me now.
Would she be disappointed that I no longer keep a stack of books next to my bed? That I spend hours doing homework instead of beating my brother in Mario Kart? Would she be upset that I willingly let the weight of the world rest on my shoulders so as to not inconvenience others?
Or would she be glad that I’ve found new things I love more? That during the darkest hours of the day I’m awake arguing that waffles are better than pancakes? Would she be ecstatic that, while the weight of the world rests on my shoulders, its opinions no longer affect me?
I’ve been pondering over what the little girl must think while continuously putting together our singular puzzle.