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Puzzle

October 15, 2014

 

These days, I sit uncomfortably with the blank page, shifting in my hard-backed seat, taking the laptop to the bed, balancing it on my knees. I sigh. I let my gaze wander, toward the clock, the window and the light of the streetlamp, broken into orange-streaked pieces by the bamboo shades. I delete more than I write. This is possible. To erase the words before letting them find their way. 

 

There are books in piles on my nightstand, on the floor, stacked in the too-stuffed bookshelves, each bookmarked somewhere in the middle. They are as restless as I am, as unfinished as the stories that sit in my journals and hard-drives, in my heart and head. 

 

I scold myself, I tell myself, I am losing time. I am losing so much time. I’ll waste a whole life. Never tell a single story, never share it, never see it on a shelf or in a store. So obsessed with how I spend my late-night hours, how I waste them, staring into space, writing nothing but sketches I erase, rip up, and I begin to hate myself, sick of and angry for being less-than. Than what? Than who I expect to be.

 

In the day time, I sit on the floor with Little O and his wooden puzzles. In one, the pieces are set behind little closed doors. There’s a cookie jar door and when you flip it open, there’s a puzzle piece of cookies. There’s an oven and, inside, a turkey piece. I flip them open. He smacks them closed.

 

At first, he does not understand how to use his finger, how to guide it toward the hole, to open each door. He only knows how to slam it when I open it. Over and over again, smacking it shut, so the little door hinges rattle closed. Look, I say. Look. But no. He does not want the puzzle piece. He does not want to see what is inside. Again and again, he slaps it shut and waits for the next moment he can smack it back in place.

 

Yesterday, I did not want to sit with the smacking pieces. I set him down. I walked away. 

 

I found him, moments later, with an open door, a cookie piece in his hand. He marveled at the piece, had this way of lifting his arm and hands like a child with a slow paper airplane woosh, arm up, gaze up, and I marveled at him, at his first instinct to take what he has finally found to the sky.

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