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"Bottom-up" Logic
by Kristina England

Jerry sat at the kitchen table with a puzzle piece in hand. He examined the jigsaw, then sighed, reached for his beer, and took a swig.

The cat thumped down the stairs and jumped on the chair beside him.

“I don’t think this piece fits anywhere,” Jerry said, rubbing the back of her neck. She curved around his hand until he scratched her chin. He put her back down on the floor and returned back to the puzzle. 

All the corner pieces were complete. Why was there an extra corner piece? And did that mean that he had 1,001 pieces or he was shy the accurate amount to finish?

His wife, Eileen, came down the stairs clasping the back of an earring. She wore a short red dress with a professional cut.

“I’m heading out.”

“Honey, I think I got jipped, again.”

“That’s nice dear.”

“No it’s not. Are you even listening? The puzzle is imperfect.”

“I’m listening. Life is imperfect, dear.”

“Thanks for the philosophical moment.”

He took another gulp of beer and belched.

Eileen bent over and kissed his cheek.

“I’ll be home in a few hours.”

“Enjoy dinner with the girls,” he said, thinking of how quiet the house would get once she left. He also decided that next year he would not give up television for Lent. He didn’t even go to Mass anymore so why all this routine? Catholic guilt, he thought and finished his beer.

“By the way, I love an imperfect puzzle,” Eileen said, nudging him.

He rolled his eyes and rubbed her hip.

“I know you do.”

“You know, I could miss dinner with the girls,” Eileen said, sitting down in his lap.

Jerry smiled. The cat leaped up and sprawled across the puzzle. His wife nodded at the cat and looked at the stairs.

“I think Bella just provided the answer to our dilemma.”

“Yup, honey. That cat’s a better problem solver than me.”

Eileen stood up, unfastened her earrings, dropped them in his hands, and headed upstairs.

“Oh and grab me a beer on your way up. If you’re going to belch all night, I might as well join the party.”