The Final Final

It’s my final semester. As such I am working on my finals. Being an English major, that means portfolios and revision work, even adding a new short story to the ranks of stories that I submit to magazines to attempt publication. But for my LAST EVER college final, I was a little frustrated to find out that none of these difficult things was the difficult thing that I had to do. For this final I am to hand in a piece of work, a narrative, that is not written and printed out traditionally… so, being me, the fact that I wanted to make something difficult for my professor, I made a puzzle! Or I tried to… something backfired. But! I photo documented it! So here it is. Professor Lovelace, if you’re reading this you got the memo on the back of my piece that I handed in. Here is how it came to exist.

A Puzzling Final

by M.K.Harlan

Step 1: Gather your materials and commandeer a friend’s coffee table.


Before you begin, you must be certain you have the proper materials. You will need:

  • A Cheap Puzzle ($2 @ Walmart for a 48 piece puzzle) It is important that you choose a puzzle that you do not wish to keep. I have not seen Trolls and frankly, I’ve always thought they were kind of creepy. So I didn’t mind using this puzzle. Now, if you had asked me to use my cool glow in the dark puzzles that I like to tear apart and put back together we might have an issue.
  • Mod Podge, aka puzzle GLUE! This is very important to the project as it will allow you to decoupage your work onto the puzzle, and it will hold your puzzle together while you compile your masterpiece!
  • Sponge Brushes: One small, for applying the Mod Podge, and one large for a pretty and symmetrical picture of you process.
  • An Exacto Knife: This will be for separating your puzzle later. (or attempting to) It will also be the item that makes your friend doubt their safety and choice of letting you commandeer their coffee table. It will cause her roommates to leave the apartment and go to a bar because they don’t trust you with an Exacto either… but then again, what sane person would? You nutcase, you.
  • A Magazine that you don’t care about because it doesn’t really interest you. It’s fun to take things that distinctly sexualize women and turn them into feminist pieces of art. (hint hint)
  • You will also need a high gloss finish that will make you nauseous if you use too much of it in an enclosed space like your dorm room, which is why you have commandeered your friend’s coffee table.
  • You will also need a Tupperware container to place your finished project in when you’re done.
  • Finally, you will need a old blanket, towel, or bunch of newspapers, that you can throw away when you’re done to protect your friend’s coffee table that is already totally water damaged anyway.

Step 2: Put the Puzzle Together


There isn’t much to this step, we all learned how to put together puzzles, probably, before kindergarten. Now – shudder at the creepiness of this puzzle… that’s right, it’s creepy.

Step 3: Apply a Base to Cover Up the Creepiness


I used two extra copies of poems from my poetry portfolio, but you can use anything really, it could be wrapping paper.

Follow the Mod Podge instructions on how to glue things to one another and smooth with an old subway gift card that has no balance on it anymore.

It is crucial that it be a Subway card as a Jimmy John’s card is too freaky fast to be of any use, will destroy your project with their speed, and they are difficult to catch in the first place… plus, I don’t care for their sandwiches.

Step 4: Break for Choco Taco


It’s the night before your last day of finals, you haven’t seen these anywhere since elementary school and WALMART HAD THEM! You and your friend decided to splurge and dammit you aren’t old enough to drink yet, so INDULGE! Finals can wait!

Step 5: The Piece


Collage together something interesting, even if it’s creepier and more serial killer-ish than the original puzzle image.

Allow it to dry sufficiently.

Add any extra marks with sharpie and you are ready for the final step…

Step 6: The End


Begin separating puzzle pieces with exacto knife.

Almost remove your finger on the third puzzle piece, thank God that you didn’t actually hit it and you have really good reflexes. (Are you a ninja in your down time?)

Decide that this isn’t working and text your class friend, Hannah, to see if she thinks putting your photo-documentation on your blog and handing in the link with what you have of the piece will be accepted as your final. She will text you an affirmative and you will quietly celebrate inside your head.

Note: It is important that your friend be named Hannah! If they are not named Hannah this WILL NOT work!

Give your Tupperware container to your friend’s roommate and clean up your mess…

Step 7: You thought 6 was The End!

Write this blog post and begin praying that your professor has a sense of humor because he’s getting the only copy of this piece that exists outside of the internet and you’ll have to keep this post on your blog forever just in case he or anyone else wants to look at it in the future.

Double check your grammar and spelling, click publish and write the link on the back of the puzzle with your name and class information.

Now, it’s time to type the reflection on this piece that you need for that class so you can turn it in at noon on the last day of finals and get the hell out of dodge!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end your last ever final with a BANG!

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