Penelope trembled as she stared at the final piece. Did she dare complete the puzzle? What would it reveal? Why had she believed such nonsense? She shook her head, remembering.
The Internet ad had caught her eye a few weeks ago. “Feeling lost? Puzzled about your life? She nodded, as if the computer could see her. She even spoke aloud. “Nothing to live for, no one to care about.” She scrolled down and gasped. The ad continued, “Nothing to live for? No one to care about?” She was terrified, but fascinated.
“You’ve come to the right place,” the ad assured her. “What should I do?” she cried.
“Order our Magic Jigsaw Puzzle,” exclaimed the ad in a bold new font. She quickly read on. The puzzle would scan her subconscious as she painstakingly put the one thousand pieces together. “The fragments of your deepest self will come together in an unparalleled moment of revelation and inspiration.” Of course it was a scam, too good to be true. But she was desperate, alone, frightened, in isolation. At least a puzzle would fill the empty hours.
Now, she faced the moment of truth. Nine hundred ninety-nine pieces in place. The almost-completed puzzle was a blur of dream-like colors and incoherent shapes, revealing nothing. She sighed and finally inserted the last piece.
The colors swirled into emerald and azure mountains, shadowy valleys. A silver ball slowly ascended each peak and delved into each dark valley, growing brighter as it traveled. Penelope suddenly understood. She could become the silver ball, lovingly navigating the contours of her life. No miraculous solutions, just ever more profound mysteries. No hurry to reach the destination, just exulting in the journey. Living for life itself, the great unanswered question. Caring about every living thing, beginning with the unique and wondrous being named Penelope.
Time to begin. She took one tentative step outside into a world fragrant with recent rain. The sun warmed her face. She saw the tip of a tiny green stem, bravely pushing through dark soil. She took another step and another, growing brighter as she walked.