17th June

Jigsaw Puzzle

I was not short of sources of entertainment during my recuperation after the surgery: I had the radio to listen to, books to read, the television to watch. Nevertheless, my wife kept finding me staring out of the window, and decided that I needed some additional stimulation. She could have engaged me in erudite conversation, I suppose, but what she opted for was a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle.

The picture on the box showed a grey sky and an almost imperceptible horizon, below which was a grey sea. The sky and the sea were the same shade of grey, the clouds in the sky looked like waves, and the waves in the sea looked like clouds. I am not sure why my wife chose that particular picture, but I thought I should show gratitude by having a go at it. I anticipated being more frustrated than stimulated.

However, to my great surprise, I became intrigued by the challenge, and determined to complete the puzzle. Having established the four edges I set about the task of filling in the middle. This was a slow, laborious process that took many hours, but eventually only one piece was left, which I triumphantly fitted into place. I sat back from the table to admire my handiwork.

Just then I noticed something quite remarkable. Near the bottom-left-hand corner of the picture, I could see a man’s head among the waves. I snatched up the box and studied the picture on it: no head– no sign of human or any other animal life – disrupted that bleak seascape. I looked again at my completed puzzle: there, unmistakably, was the man, with what looked like an expression of utter exhaustion on his face. He seemed to have been in the water for quite some time.

I called to my wife. Her first reaction was to congratulate me on my achievement. I brushed her praise aside. ‘No, no,’ I said. ‘Look! There! Don’t you see the man in the sea?’

I pointed at the spot. My wife stared, first at the puzzle, then at me. She shook her head. I looked again, but it was too late. The drowning man had disappeared beneath the waves.

Reader: Jimmy Hutchison
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Guitar: Sorren Maclean
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