She spent all evening carefully sorting out the pieces. Border pieces went in one pile, sky blue in another, darker pieces in a third. Afterwards, content with her progress, she crawled into bed, clutching Rabbit, her one remainder of childhood, to her chest, and drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
In the other room, the jigsaw shifted, pieces inching slowly from one pile to the next, intermingling, sometimes forming new piles, sometimes sneaking off to be alone or pairing up with totally dissimilar pieces, sometimes drifting off into dreams of their own. Some lined the table edge and stared down at the floor, wondering their fate if they should fall. One even took the leap, turning end over end as it fell into darkness, never to be seen again.
When she woke, things were as she’d left them, or so it seemed. It was only later that she would discover the missing piece.
She spend the day trying to piece the puzzle together, frustrated that pieces that should have fit easily together seemed to defy her every attempt at joining them no matter how hard she forced them to fit.
Defeated, she crawled back into bed at the end of the day, once again clutching her stuffed bunny to her chest, once again unaware of the jigsaw coming to life in her absence, the puzzle pieces changing and shifting until even the picture, a fairy tale-like castle, changed, now a dark and foreboding maze of stone and shadow.
Once again, when she awoke, she tried to piece it all together, but every attempt frustrated her more and more. Nothing made sense. Pieces were missing. The pile of sky blue had become one of crimson embers and dark gray smoke. There were too many middle pieces and not enough borders. Confused, she swept her arm across the table, spilling dozens of pieces to the floor, unable to hear their cries of surprise and pain and fear as they tumbled off the edge of the world into the unknown, clutching at each other fruitlessly as they fell.
That night she dreamed she was standing on the table’s edge, leaning forward, letting go, falling end over end, plummeting towards the carpet, alone, leaving behind everything and everyone she knew. She laid there for days, staring up into darkness, lost upon a sea of beige weave, her color fading until only a cardboard shape remained. Soon, even that faded and was forgotten as the puzzle on the table top changed, every day a new sky.