People Are Puzzle Pieces


There’s always a bit of excitement when you think you’ve found a pair of pieces that fit together. Your eyes dart back to the box that taunts you with text of however-many-hundred pieces you’ve sifted through. You look at the image you’re striving for and then quickly back to the two pieces that have gravitated towards each other.

“Yeah,” you tell yourself. “That’s right.”

They’re clearly from the same section, if not the same square inch. They share the same ink and shapes. Even if they’re not officially together, they look good together, just resting beside each other. One is convex where the other concaves. Everyone can see they belong together.

Cardboard soulmates.

In your head you’ve already convinced yourself that they complement and complete one another. You know that when they join together you’ll be so much closer to finishing that over-edited stock image. Yes, these two pieces are the way it’s supposed to be, just like you’ve always imagined, a peanut-butter-and-jelly type of pair.

Something kind of shitty happens when you try to put them together, though. While they both might be from the floral section of your Majestic Landscapes jigsaw, you soon realize that the lines on the petals don’t flow into one another. You adjust the pieces with 90 degree turns and vertical inversions. You bring them closer to your face to analyze the details, over-earnestly squinting too hard and blurring out the dissimilarities.

Still enchanted by all of the aforementioned likenesses, you shove them together with all of your might, giving every angle a wholehearted and desperate effort.

They’re off.

Combined they create Frankenstein flowers. Stamens collide with stems and petals are interrupted by leaves. The edges that are opposite of their union bow upward from the table.

They are strained.

You’re convinced that maybe there was a mix up at the puzzle factory, or maybe your brother put the wrong pieces in the wrong box, or perhaps the moisture in your basement has waterlogged the pieces and they won’t ever fit together proper, or that maybe all puzzle-piece pairs are slightly misaligned and have gaps between their joints.

You welcome every far-fetched possibility with naivety as you ignore the fact that they simply don’t fit.

Frantic, clammy hands start to smudge the once-glossy finish of the vibrant wild flowers. The more you shove those pieces together, the more tattered and torn their edges get. You hold them down to lay flat, afraid to let go and recognize their natural resistance.

While these two pieces sit uncomfortably, pairs around them seem to effortlessly glide into place with one another.

This is hard to ignore.

Some puzzle pieces just aren’t meant for each other.

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