"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

7/11/08

Friday Fiction: "Making the Pieces Fit"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday at Patterings. This story was originally written for "Seek," a Sunday School paper put out by Standard Publishing. They were unable to use it in their publication, so I thought I'd share it with you (and I figured with so many readers being Faithwriters regulars, I might try to post a piece most, if not all, of you had never read.) I hope you enjoy it! And be sure to stop by Patterings to read more wonderful fiction - or add some fiction of your own!

Making The Pieces Fit

Phyllis examined the puzzle piece in her hand. The blue shading seemed to match the sky in the right corner of the puzzle before her. Rotating the piece several times, she tried it in a few different spots in the upper portion. She was frustrated until she realized the tinge of white in one corner of the puzzle, which she had thought was cloud, was actually foam from the sea's surf. She found the spot right away, slipping the piece into place in the lower left.

"Almost done," she announced to no one. Phyllis had been working on this puzzle for a good week, any time she had a break in her schedule. It looked like she'd be able to complete it before she had to get back to work. She grabbed another piece as her telephone rang. Phyllis placed the piece back on the table and picked up the receiver on the second ring.

"Hello."

"Hello. Is this Phyllis?"

"Yes, it is. How can I help you?"

"Hi, Phyllis. My name is Brenda Soren. We met at church on Sunday - my husband and I were sitting behind you during Sunday School."

"Oh yes - you used to teach at my alma mater, right? What can I do for you?"

"Well, I'm trying to put together a little presentation for the city's Winterfest - for the church, you know - and a couple of people mentioned that you used to write scripts. I was hoping you'd be willing to put something simple together for us."

Phyllis' face flushed remembering some of the plays she'd helped put together. "That was a long time ago, Brenda, and they were definitely not appropriate for a church setting." They had a bit more innuendo than any of her new friends would appreciate - or Phyllis herself, for that matter.
One of the first changes Phyllis noticed when she became a believer about six months earlier was her new aversion to the foul language that used to pepper her speech. And to Phyllis, writing a script without foul language seemed impossible. The two, to her, were inseparable. She didn't think she could ever get beyond that to write another.

"I don't know, Brenda. Just the thought of writing one brings back some pretty bad memories. Still, when do you need to know?"

"By the weekend is fine - and don't feel pressured, Phyllis. I just figured it was a good way to get you plugged in here."

"I do appreciate that, Brenda." Phyllis bit her lip. "Okay - what if I pray about it, chat with my husband, and get back to you in a couple days?"

"That would be fine. Don't be afraid to call if you need more details. Do you have my number?"

"I think so. Is it in the directory?"

"Sure is. Anyhow, I won't take up any more of your time. Have a good day, and I'll talk to you soon."

"You, too." Phyllis turned the phone off and put it back on the wall.

Phyllis plodded to the kitchen and started working on dinner, but couldn't concentrate.

"I dunno, God. What should I do?"

"Do about what?"

Phyllis turned with a start and smiled. "When did you come in, handsome?" She kissed her husband John on the cheek.

"Just a minute or so ago. You were enraptured in that ground beef, I believe."

Phyllis rolled her eyes. "You're nuts. Anyhow, how was your day, sweetheart?"

"Not bad. Sounds like yours was at least eventful."

"That's a good word for it." Phyllis put the beef mixture in a meatloaf pan and spread ketchup over the top. "Do you remember Brenda Soren? She sat behind us in Sunday School."

"I think so."

"Well, she called, and asked me if I'd be willing to write up a simple script for the church's part in the Winterfest."

"That sounds great." John smiled and grabbed the meatloaf pan off the counter and put it in the preheated oven. "So what's the problem?"

Phyllis set the oven timer for 45 minutes. "You know how crude my plays were. Do you really think I can write one without going back to that foul mouth of mine?"

"Yes, in fact I do." John raised his eyebrows. "And weren't you just saying yesterday how you wanted to start helping out at church?"

"Yeah, but couldn't I just do something else to help? Like folding napkins, or passing out tracts or something?"

"I suppose - but that's not your talent, darlin."

"Yeah, but, I could still do it, right?"

John chuckled. "Come here, Phyllis." He led her back into the living room. "Have you ever tried to put a puzzle together upside down?"

Phyllis tilted her head. "Excuse me?"

"Humor me a minute here, hun."

She nodded, shrugging her shoulders.

John grabbed a dozen unplaced pieces from her puzzle and put them down on the coffee table picture-side down.

"Theoretically, it could still be done, right?"

She nodded.

John took two pieces and attempted to join them. After several false tries, he found two that fit.

"It would definitely take longer, but it could be done -- except..." John raised his eyebrows and smiled.

He turned the two pieces over. One was clearly part of the sky, while the other appeared to belong in a portion of a flower patch.

"They don't go together," Phyllis observed.

"Right. They may look like a match from the back, but when you look at the big picture, you see that they aren't."

"Fascinating - but what does this have to do with me writing a play for the church?"

John smiled. "The body of Christ is kind of like a puzzle. Each believer is a piece of the puzzle, and we all have a place in the big picture. If we end up in the wrong place, the job may still get done, but not as easily - and the puzzle won't look quite right. If we look at each piece, however, we can be sure to put it in the right place.

"You, my dear Phyllis, have a very specific talent." John put her hands in his. "Our church needs someone with your talent to complete the 'Winterfest puzzle.' Do you think God can't help you get over your writing hurdles? He gave you that talent for a reason, you know. And I'll be here to support you besides."

Phyllis smiled. "You're right. Glad I didn't say 'no' right off the bat."

John winked. "So, you'll do it?"

"You bet. I'll call her right after dinner."

John grabbed the puzzle pieces off the coffee table and put them back with the others. "While dinner's cooking, how about I help you with this?"

"Sounds good." She kissed him gently on the cheek. "You seem to have a thing for puzzles today."

11 comments:

  1. Awwww... Joanne, that was a very pleasant read. What a great analogy for us being the Body of Christ! I really enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Great analogy...I just started a new jigsaw puzzle this morning, so I can really relate to this!
    Thanks again for your great writing. love,Vonnie

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  3. Yes, one I hadn't read but enjoyed very much. I like the puzzle tie in to the message. Excellent!

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  4. I loved the puzzle "piece" as well. Great work, Joanne!

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  5. Oooh! I liked this! I've never read it before and it was simply delightful! I'm glad that she decided to write the script after all and I loved the way you used the puzzle illustration. Cute!

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  6. Very good story and being a puzzle person, I enjoyed the way you worked that into the story so beautifully.

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  7. Very well-written and entertaining. Great analogy too!

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  8. Great Story! Your characters are terrific and I love how the puzzle she was working on fit right into what she was dealing with!

    Great Read. Loved it!
    Thank you for visiting my story about "Momma" - your comments are very encouraging.

    Blessings.

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  9. Thanks for a great first visit to your blog. I will be back.

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  10. Joanne, I love this analogy. I sometimes forget that I have any talent to contribute at all anymore-it's a blessing to remember that I STILL have talents the Lord gave me and can use them in many ways-even when I don't feel the best. Here's a giant hug for reminding me of this. (And coupled with Laura's blog today, I think the Lord is trying to tell me something!)

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  11. Great analogy and great story, JoDear!! Love it!! (LoL--both of it!) Hugs!

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