As a child, he had a small toy, a picture puzzle of a snake, made of eight square pieces held neatly in a square frame. The frame itself could have held nine pieces but the puzzle required one section to be empty, allowing the eight pieces to be shuffled and maneuvered into the correct positions. He would sometimes picture a similar puzzle, except it was his body that made up the pieces. He could move those pieces, but really, he was only moving that small empty space to different parts of himself. If he went a week gnawing and peeling at his lips, he would mentally shuffle those pieces until the emptiness was somewhere different. Sometimes he thought he’d solved the puzzle and fixed himself, only to realize the emptiness was in a place he couldn’t physically see. He spent three months smoking tobacco until he recognized the intoxicating calm he got when he struck the match to light it, and the familiar shame he felt when his friends commented on his coughing. He shuffled his pieces again, and developed a bald spot where he had been pulling out his hair, carefully hidden behind his left ear. Shuffled, and attacked all the small, perceived imperfections on his arms and legs and back in search of a perfect smoothness that ended in scabs. Shuffled, and picked the skin of his thumbs until they looked burned. He could move that locus of destruction, but he could not remove it. The empty spot was always there, but unlike in a toy, he did not believe it was an intended part of the original construction. It was a sign that he was broken, in a way that he foolishly thought was unique to himself.