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  • Аннотация:
    For N.B. Happy birthday, Dear...

  -- Here goes another one, - whispered a young man and gently grasped his cup of tea.
   Just a month ago he'd be laughing to tears if anybody told him he'd be sitting here, at a kitchen table with a cup of ice-cold tea and his shattered life in front of him... Yet there he was - alone, surrounded by a thousand of pieces of what seemed to be his future - two radiant faces, smiling in unison. A once-in-a-life-time perfect couple.
   - Here you go, - a somewhat resin, lifeless voice echoed in the cup and vanished with the next sip, while another tiny piece found its place, with the cup back on the table.
   How long has it been? A day, a week or more? He hardly remembered anything but the precise number of the pieces he'd found - 927 out of 1000. Yet even if the finish line was right there, just a few steps away, he couldn't reach it no matter how hard he tried. Something just didn't fit well. It didn't.
   The man stood up and looked down on the portrait scanning it with a robot-like scrutiny. There was a hole in the picture, right in the girl's face. He had already tried all of the pieces left but none of them fit to a t. Something was missing... Could it be a manufacturing defect? Or is it a mistake he had made himself?
   Convinced of the existence of some logical explanation, the man picked up one piece after another, again and again, but to no use - things remained as they were - incomplete and, thus, unsatisfactory. May be he shouldn't have started it all in the first place? May be it would have been wiser to dedicate his time to a more purposeful and useful activity? Yet this feeling of emptiness he couldn't get rid of, the vacuum caused by the hole in the picture made him drown in despair that only passengers from a depressurized airplane with no oxygen masks available could understand. Suffocating. It was.
   Brought to the extreme, the man took out all the similar-colored pieces and, after taking another sip from the cup, gave it another try.
  -- I can make it! - he believed, and he did!
   This time there was no mistake: bright and colorful pieces were all there, smiling at him from the past and giving a sense of completeness he'd been longing for. The heavy aftertaste of the cold tea disappeared with a glass of fresh water he was drinking while framing the portrait gently and hanging it on the wall of his memories. A unique piece with a special place in a sparkling life-time frame.
   Right near the door the young man stopped and turned around, amazed at how much free space there was left in this beautiful frame.
   A happy smile touched his lips as he was walking out of the door to look for a new puzzle.

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