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The Perfect Image: A Short Fantasy Story On Dealing With Perfectionism

Mansurat is a creative writer. She writes on a variety of genres.


“Our land is under threat from our neighbors. We need you all to work hard so we can save our people." Royalty Genjoh said ending her speech. She went on to arrange the hall for the day’s test.

We had faced so much aggression from our neighbors and all the fairies that had come of age were under pressure to train hard in order to be prepared for another attack.

Being the incoming Queen, I felt even more pressure to be perfect and work myself out. I trained round the clock so I could break every deadline set for me. Breaking each record gave me thrills and fanned my confidence.

“Come over here, Princess Shan.” Royalty Genjoh called out and I left the gathering.

“This is your test. Others have tests unique to their strengths and magical powers. You will all be timed. This will test your ability to fish out soldiers when they are hiding.” Royalty Genjoh said.

“Alright.” I replied and she left, walking back to the podium.

“Listen up fairies. Today’s exercise will stretch your thinking abilities. Your names are assigned to all the arranged sections. Find your spot as quickly as possible and try to demystify the puzzle. Your time starts now.”

As soon as she sounded the whistle, I dived into my task.

I had practiced so hard so I was taken aback when I was finding the process difficult. I looked around, everyone seemed to be busy so I decided to focus and make the most of my time.

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Each time, I conceived a pattern in my head, I thought of a thousand ways in which it was not right. I kept trying, moving the blocks so I could find the right one.

I moved the last block and it formed an image but I was so sure it could not be it as it did not look perfect. I undid the puzzle so I could start over. Just then I heard the sound of the second whistle.

Could time really be up?

I looked round. It appeared like it was an easy task for everyone. I felt bad that I could not arrive at something perfect within the stipulated time.

“Step back everyone. I’ll assess your works and make the needed corrections.” Royalty Genjoh announced.

She walked to my section first since I was the first based on the horizontal arrangement. I was already freaking out as I did not want to hear her pronounce my failure.

She took the main puzzle block up to read the energy stored behind it.

“No way! You exceeded the energy expectation yet you couldn’t get an image. What went wrong Princess Shan?”

“No. I got about five images but non of it was perfect.”

“Perfect?” She asked.

“Yes, they all had little errors.”

“Princess Shan, this is not about perfection. There is no perfect image in reality as there will always be room for improvement. This was a simple test. Your desire to find the perfect image made it impossible for you to finish. Every image is imperfect yes, but it's also unique. And that's what makes it essential. Try again.” She said handing the block to me.

In a split second, I created an image.

“Good. This is the map of the second gate of the castle. The points here are usually enemy hideouts.” She said pointing at some red spots.

“And, it got rough and imperfect because we have been preserving it for years since we could not replicate this drawing. No one has been able to do something as good as this. Sometimes, you have to overlook little flaws and see the perfection.” She added.

“That will be all for today.” She said and walked to the next fairy.

I walked out of the academy thinking about what she had said. And maybe, I have been so hard on myself because I could not ignore my own little flaws. I guess my flaws are an integral part of what makes me perfect. Just like the puzzle piece.


At the end of the story, Princess Shan realizes she needs to go easy on herself and that her desire to do things perfectly makes her lose out on the more important things.

And many of us are like Princess Shan. While trying to find the perfect image, we shut our eyes from the things that already are.

To make the most of life, it is necessary to sometimes ignore little errors and appreciate the good that presents itself.

© 2022 Mansurat Zakari

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