The Jigsaw Puzzle

Richard had done well in life. He had worked hard building up his business. Life was indeed good. No money worries, a lovely flat where he lived, over looking Sutton Harbor in the Barbican of Plymouth. After such a busy career he decided to take retirement and enjoy a more relaxing lifestyle.

However Richards life lacked in certain area’s as it does when one focuses on the business world, Yes, he indeed had all that he wished for, in a materialistic way, but this, like everything in life, come at a price. He had very few friends, most of lived abroad or in different parts of the country, so he did not see much of them. He had not married, no time for that, his business was his first love, and there was little room for personal pleasures of life. He had of course, met several ladies, but as usual, they had found that Richards work came first, and they embarked on there own journey

Richard sat looking out of his lounge window. Spring had come at last. The sun was shining in a beautiful blue sky. The Barbican, seemed to yawn like it too, was waking up from a long winter’s sleep. Richard, was in deep thought. He had just put down his newspaper, discarded his reading glasses, and just stared across the harbor. He had reached 59, but still looked quite youthful for his advancing years. It had indeed been a long winter. He had hardly left his flat. He had hardly seen a soul for weeks, except for the people going about their business on the quayside, or when he went to the shops. “Yes”, he thought to himself, “I really have become a hermit”, he thought even more carefully, “Yes, I really let life just pass me by”. To be fair, and like most people, who do not wish to admit it, he was lonely.

He stood up and walked across to the mirror hanging on his lounge, looking into it he felt quite sad. He had allowed the important things life to pass him by whist he made a place in the materialistic world for himself,. The long hours, the company of others just like him. No more, the pretty girls on his arm taking them out to dinner. No more the fabulous foreign holidays, lying on a beach in paradise, while working out the next deal. “Yes”, further depressing thoughts came into his mind. Feeling lonely, and unloved, surely this is not what it should be. He turned, and returned to his chair. What could he do? To be honest, he did not mix well at the best of times, only when a deal had to be closed. Where could he go? What could he do?

When he was a boy, he was fond of doing jigsaw puzzles. Indeed he still had a few stored away. Most pictures were the Devon countryside, and its beautiful villages and places of interest. He got up and went to his sideboard drawer. “Yes”, he muttered to himself, “Here they are”. The first one to come to hand was that of Totnes Castle. “This will do” he thought, as he returned to his seat. . He looked out the window. It was a lovely day, what is the point of staying in. He went into the kitchen and found a wooden board, roughly the size of the puzzle, grabbed an anorak, just in case, and headed down in the lift and out the door of the flats and on to the Barbican.

It was about lunchtime, so Richard headed towards a quite famous Barbican take away, “Captain Jaspers”. He ordered a “half yarder”, sandwich, and sat down on a nearby bench overlooking the water. When his sandwich had been finally demolished, he took out his wooden board, and started putting his jigsaw together.

Being a beautiful day, the Barbican was busy with people looking around local shops, or just going for a walk around the harbor. The spring weather had also attracted some early season tourists. Indeed, tourists came from all over the world, to visit the historic Barbican.

Richard continued with his puzzle, gradually building up the picture of the castle. It wasn’t long, before his activity caught the attention of passers by. People, being curious, stopped behind him, taking a glance over his shoulder, of what he was up too. Some even asked about the castle, and before long he was talking to lots of people, who he had never met before. It was so busy at times, that he had little time to complete his puzzle, but after a few hours the job was done, and after a brief rest, he returned to his flat.

The following day, Richard returned to the bench, this time with a puzzle of Widecombe in the Moor. Again, the same thing happened. People stopped and looked, and even exchanged a few words, intrigued by his activity. Richard was enjoying his new found occupation, and even started making new friends with people who came by just to look at what he doing.

Spring lead into summer, and each day, weather permitting, Richard returned to his bench. By this time he was becoming a bit of a tourist attraction. Some people even brought puzzles of Devon for him to complete. Before long too, passers by were taking his photograph, with some foreign tourists placing him on Face book. To show the folks at home this rather British oddity. Yes, he was definitely becoming famous.

“Good morning”, Richard’s attention was drawn to a rather tall man standing. The man held out his hand which contained a box. “You may remember me”, the man continued, “I took a photograph of you a couple of weeks ago” “Did you” came the reply, “Yes, and I would like you to have this”. Richard took the box, and was surprised to see his picture on the lid. The man continued, “I work in a printers, and I have made a jigsaw puzzle of you,”. Richard looked inside to find the pieces. Looking up with a smile, “What can I say, but thank you very much”. “My pleasure” came the man’s reply, “”I hope you will enjoy it”. Richard looked at the box lid. There he was sitting there in a short sleeved shirt, white shorts and sandals, a baseball cap, and his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose. He was thrilled and prepared to complete his new puzzle. As he shuffled around, the box of puzzle pieces fell to the floor and began to scatter around, being blown by a breeze that came in from the sea. Richard jumped up quickly and gathered the pieces before returning to his bench to complete the picture. Things were going well; the picture was taking shape quickly. “That looks interesting”, a woman’s voice came from beside him. “Do you mind if I join you, I love jigsaw puzzles, and I have heard a lot about you”, continued the woman. “By all means”, Richard replied, “Take a seat”. “My name is Jane, how do you do”, Richard acknowledged her greeting, and continued with his puzzle. Richard glanced at Jane, “Do you know, I feel I know you from somewhere”. Jane replied, “I don’t think we have met before, but I know you from somewhere too.” Richard continued, “Doing this puzzle reminds me of my life, indeed, what you see in the picture is a picture of my life.” “It seems that each piece represents an event in life, something I did, or something that happened to me, it really makes you think”. “Yes, I see what you mean”, Jane replied. “When completed it is who you are now”. Richard continued with his puzzle while Jane watched on. “There, nearly finished, one piece to go, it is the one that is part of his shirt’s breast pocket”. Richard fumbled around his box, but the piece was not to be found. “That’s a nuisance, it must have blown away when I dropped the box earlier, I will have a look around to find it”. Jane smiled, “Is this it?” she produced the piece from her jacket pocket. “Yes, that’s it, where did you find it?” “I noticed it on the pavement around the corner, so I picked it up”.” Here, let me put the piece in place”. Jane placed the last part of the puzzle in place” “There you are, just over your heart”. “Thank you Jane” “What do you think of it?” “It is really nice, a little older than I can remember, but it is the same Richard”. Richard turned, and taking off his reading glasses looked at Jane. It was then he recognized her. “Jane it’s you”, “Yes came the reply “It’s me”. Richard dropped his board and gave Jane a big hug. “I cannot believe it’s you” he repeated again and again. Jane and Richard had been engaged many years previous, but like things in life, they drifted apart, going there own ways. “Come on, let’s go for a coffee, we have a lot of catching up to do” “What a surprise”.

Fate had once played a part. The couple regained the friendship to find their feelings of love for each other were still there. Richard at last, had found a companion to share his life, and end his loneliness.

Life’s jigsaw puzzle.

By Ray Steed
Edited by Kate Whitmarsh

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