Puzzle Pieces

She sat in the slowly darkening room, a puzzle board propped up against the ceiling-to-floor window. The sun was sinking past the horizon, and it was becoming harder to see the subtle differences in the puzzle pieces, but she did not care. She was reaching the end, she could tell, and she felt excitement course through her. Finally – finally – she would know, understand what happened at the end. She started picking up the pieces and fitting them in a frenzy; impatient as ever to see the end. A puzzle piece on its own made no sense. But put together, it formed a picture, the big picture. . .

And then she held the final piece up, her excitement reached its climax. She felt the weight of the piece in her hand, fingered it's smoothly cut sides. Her eyes devoured it; it pictured a small golden light surrounded by darkness. She wondered what it meant, and a shot of energy coursed through her. Now, at last, she would know.

"Finally," she croaked, her voice sounding strange to her ears after years of no use. It had lost its smooth and musical quality, now it was hoarse. Her beauty had deserted her too – she did not care, she had let it go easily. She only cared about the puzzle pieces, about seeing the big picture. Once before, there had been warmth in her eyes: now there was a mad glint.

Lightning flashed outside as her cracked lips moved upward to form a smile, her first smile in years. She held the piece as gingerly as though it were a small, helpless child.

Then slowly, cautiously, she started to place the piece where it belonged, knowing her life was about to unravel. Now, at last, she would know her purpose. . .

The piece fitted. The sky flashed an electric blue, illuminating the room, the picture she worked so long to construct, for a mere second. But a mere second was all she needed to see.

A gasp was torn out of her throat and her eyes widened as she stared at the horrific picture – then the lightning faded, leaving the room dark again, and she turned and ran blindly at the door, grabbing the doorknob and shaking it, screaming, but it was no use. She was alone. She threw herself to the floor and sat with her back pressed against the door and her eyes squeezed shut. It was no use, though: the picture was imprinted in her eyelids, she couldn't erase it from her memory; couldn't block it out of her mind – it was a part of her.

"So this is what my life is," she whispered to the eerily dark room. Years and years she had worked on finding her purpose, her reason in life, she had worked on seeing her future. Now she knew, she had seen her fate. And all that was left was to live with it. "Mistakes. . ." whispered a broken person. "The same mistakes."