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The Jigsaw Puzzle
A teenager tries to free himself from the sickenly perfect town he lives in, to make it into perfection in his eyes.
Jennifer M Haynes
I'm 17 years old, I love to write, in the 12th grade, have 6 cats, live in Tennessee, have won several writing contests, hope to be able to get published "for real" some day.
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (6)
An Unlikely Friend (Short Stories) A man with an unusual "job" while hitchhiking to get away from his last piece of work, meets another man with similar interests. [1,622 words]
Destroy The Link (Short Stories) Story of a girl who comes home from school to find things are wrong, and then realizes that she needs to break her dependence on her parents. [3,333 words]
I Will Die In Peace (Poetry) A poem. [400 words]
It's A Wonderful Life (Short Stories) The story of a man surviving (and wishing he hadn't) a nuclear war. What happened before and after the attack. [1,950 words]
The Paradoxical Understanding (Poetry) About the frustrations of being a teenager - hormones, the confusion of life, and the feeling of doubting the existence of God [72 words]
The Sweater (Short Stories) Andy finds his dead brother's body in the backyard, and takes the sweater to see if he can catch the murderer. Will his brother ever be at peace? [500 words]
The Jigsaw Puzzle
Jennifer M Haynes
A Jigsaw Puzzle
By: Jennifer Haynes
It was a pleasant town, like one you'd see in a jigsaw puzzle.
I hated jigsaw puzzles. And even more I hated pleasnant towns.
It was one of those places where people didn't have to lock
their doors. Children could play outside without fear of drivebys or kidnappings. The sun always seemed to be shining. Eveyrone knew everyone and they all got along. The perfect town, right?
My idea of a perfect town contrasted severely with most people's.
I think if children are screaming, it should be because of pain and fear, not fun and happiness. People would have double locks on their doors, but even that wouldn't be enough to keep the robbers, rapers, and murderers out.
The sky would always be a deep dark gray, and a light fog would hang permanently in the streets. THAT is the perfect town.
I didn't talk to anyone. I stayed down in my basement instead
of being with my family. Talking to people here was dreaful because they all thought I was weird, and you could see fear in their eyes. They thought I was going to flip out and kill them. So, I just stayed down there and painted.
I have a lot of talent as a painter. I'm not bragging; it's just
what I've observed. My pictures are what caused people to start avoiding me. They said they were so vivid that they were disturbing. I find that hard to believe becuase the pictures were soothing to me.
I decided to go upstairs because I was starting to get hungry. I
figured my parents would be asleep by now.
"Hello," a timid voice called as I walked to the refrigerator.
I turned and saw my mom sitting alone in the libing room with a
lamp on. "Hi, Mom. What are you doing up so late?" I asked, feeling annoyed.
"I was just working on a jigsaw puzzle..."
"God, Mom!" I yelled, infuriated. "Why do you constantly work
on those mindless things? That's what all the people in this stupid town do! Did you know that every piece you try to place in the wrong spot kills 100 brain calls?"
"Now, honey, I've never heard that..."
"It's true! Just wait till you're working on that puzzle with your last brain cell. You'll put it in the wrong place and drop dead, just like that! And you know what? I'll laugh, and I'll tell Dad I told you so, but you wouldn't listen. I'll tell everyone, and then maybe this town'll listen to me for a change!" I tried very hard to keep my face distorted into a look
of anger, because seeing the fear develop on my mom's face was quite amusing.
"Oh, dear," she said, wringing her hands together nervously. "Oh,
"Maybe you'd better go to bed, Mom. If you have a heart attack, I
don't want you to have it in front of me."
My mom didn't even hear the last comment I made as she slowly walked upstairs. She believed just about anything I said if I yelled, because she was submissive when she was yelled at.
I walked over to where she had been sitting to turn the light off, but the puzzle caught my eye. It was a puzzle with lots of people walking pleasantly down a street, with children playing, and with two lovers looking up at the birds in the sky. My mom only had twenty or thirty pieces to go.
The more I stared at the happy scene, the more I despised it. I
started taking it apart. I couldn't understand why puzzles were always so bright and happy. People needed dark and dreary puzzle, scary puzzles, puzzles depicting death and pain.
I watched the town fall apart, piece by piece, as it became nothing more than a jumpbled mess on the table. With each piece I removed and dropped aside, an idea formed in my head. And finally, as I took apart the last two pieces, I knew exactly what I was going to do, but the idea was crazy.
For months I had worked diligently on my two best and most important works of art. The first was a painting of the town, and it had required outside research. The first day, when I stepped out into the wretched sunlight, breathed the sickeningly perfect air, and looked at all the smiling people, I threw up. It was so disgusting being out there, but I had to do it. And I did do it. I got the town's main buildings and houses sketched
out on a home-made map.
The second work of art was a painting of my dream town, and all it had required was a trip into my imaginiation. I painted every last detail, right down to the dead dog in the middle of the street.
Now I was cutting the pictures into pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle.
The idea was insane, but I had to try, no matter how crazy it was.
I walked home with the two puzzles in a bag. I went down into my
basement without saying a word to anyone. After I had put some items away, I pulled out a carefull sized picture frame and started putting together the puzzle of the ugly, boring town. I didn't get it cut into too many pieces, so it didn't take long. Then I placed it in the frame.
Nothing happened, although I hadn't really expected anything.
I started pulling the puzzle apart, all except for the piece with my house on it. Then I started putting together the puzzle of my town. The place with the dead dog. As I placed the last piece, a low rumble came from outside. It was time to see if it had worked.
I ran upstairs and opened the door, and for a minute I couldn't
move. I hadn't expected it to work!
The sky was dark and cloudy. A fog hung in the street. The air
smelled of filth and garbage, and people were running through the streets, frightened. There was a dead dog in the road.
A lady ran past me. She was clutching a child to her chest, and
dirt and grime were smeared on her face. A man with a knife ran after her, pausing to wave at me. He knew I was a friend.
I left the door open to let in the air, and sat down on the couch. Outside I heard screams and gunfire, and I envisioned the pain the people were feeling, and I smiled. My parents were trapped in a hostage situation, and would probably die since the cops had no control over this place. I relaxed. This was the life.
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"This story is kind of twisted, and very cool. I can relate to the whole boring town sort of thing too." -- Paula Shackleford, Hamilton, Scotland.
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© 1997 Jennifer M Haynes
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