-Author’s Note –
This is a sequel to the six part short story, Orchestrated. It features the same characters and takes place in story two months later. Keepsake won’t spoil anything from Orchestrated and will only make small references to it. You don’t need to read Orchestrated first, but it’s recommended if you have time. ;D
My enjoyment of jigsaw puzzles is nonexistent, and apparently in the eyes of my father that was something he disapproved of. This disproval wasn’t something I was full aware of until I woke up this morning – though looking back it should have been obvious. See, it wasn’t until I stepped into the kitchen and saw the table that I realized how far my father would go to prove a point: jigsaw puzzles were worth completing.
It all started last night, when my dad found me sitting on the couch watching a television show, a comedy he and I viewed sometimes. He entered the room at 10PM coming home from work and said I needed to do something that stimulated the brain.
I found that suggestion unneeded. After all I had already gone to school which took up my morning and half the afternoon, did all my homework for the day and read a few chapters in a book I was reading. Giving myself to mind numbing television before going to bed seemed fair to me. In father’s eyes however, seeing me today only watch television was a reflection of how my day had gone.
I wouldn’t disagree with that. Then again, I feel like most of my days are, so honestly it wasn’t abnormal. School, homework, recreation and relaxing. That was the summary of my life.
Either way, my father suggested ideas I could do for tomorrow.
“Austin, how about you do something besides watch Tv? How about…” he struggled to come up with an idea as he took off his jacket. It was cool enough to wear a light coat or jacket, it being the middle of October. Florida never hit below freezing temperatures though, even in the winter time.
“I don’t know. A jigsaw puzzle? Those are fun,” he tossed the idea to me.
“No,” I responded right away. “Jigsaw puzzles are boring.” I tossed it right back. Apparently, at his face because he became offended. He gave me a look of disbelieve.
“What? Puzzles are a fantastic use of time.”
My father was a big, strong man with a mustache and short cut hair. His skin color was usually white, but he had a left over tan acquired over the summer. His mood was always loving, stern and justice. Also intelligence. Those are the words I would describe for him, and I wouldn’t give that sort of description to anyone. I still wasn’t sure what sort of traits I had inherited from him.
“How?” I asked. Finally, I had found something that was stimulating. Arguing over a pointless subject with my dad was good enough for me before bed.
With heavy steps he sat down in his recliner and stared at me.
“Well, you put together a box of pieces to form a picture. All that hard work pays off in the end and you can do it together with others.” He reasoned it out the best way he could and smiled.
I shook my head. “No. The entire idea of a jigsaw puzzle is meaningless. For example, the box shows you the final outcome of the picture. You already know what it looks like and what happens… what’s the point of putting it all together?”
My dad frowned. “So you mean,” he paused. “That because you can see the picture before putting the puzzle together, it doesn’t mean anything?”
“Yeah,” I remembered how I turned away from my dad right then, brushing off what was said without thinking. I started to watch the Tv again, when it was suddenly switched off.
I looked over at him, surprised by the seriousness of his tone. He was staring right at me.
“Even if you know what the outcome is, taking the time to put it all together is what’s important.”
I shrugged and replied simply, “Not for a puzzle.”
With that, my father kept his frown and stood up. Without another word he walked away. There was no way I hurt his feelings, and it was just a conversation. Still, I had wondered if I had hurt is feelings in some way.
As I stood in our kitchen, I realized the truth. On the dinner table was a large pile of puzzle pieces all with various colors and shapes. Beside it was a small note for Austin.
We didn’t own any puzzles, at least not any that I had seen. So my dad must have gone out before work and bought one, brought it back and placed it here for me. I had driven him away not in anger, but in determination.
After last night’s conversation I decided that it was in your best interest
to put together a puzzle so you can learn how much fun and how important it can be.
As you stated, knowing the what the final picture is ruins the experience, so I’ve removed the box and left the pieces alone for you to put together.
I paused from reading, and glanced around the room to find that my father did indeed throw the box away or hide it. I looked back at the note.
If you don’t feel like completing the puzzle, I know there’s some yard work
like cutting the grass, pulling weeds or washing my car,
all of which could be done today.
Either way, one of those is getting finished.
I stared at the note and blinked. So my dad had given me an ultimatum. Do the puzzle, or work on the yard. I scratched my hair, messed up hair uncombed and mouth still dry. I placed the note down and walked out of the kitchen. Maybe the yard work wouldn’t be so bad. After all, I could work on it for a time and then relax, enjoy my Saturday morning with a nap or watch a movie… Better than a puzzle.
I opened the front door.
The sun was shining brightly, not a cloud in the sky and the humidity was damp, filling my lungs. Already I felt beads of sweat building up on my skin. I stared at the outside with a frown.
I shut the door and got to work on the puzzle.