I hope you enjoy! Copyright 2020
The Butterfly Effect by Kristy Kamin
14.4521° S, 132.2715° E (Katherine, Australia)
The tears are leaving her flushed face to land on the broken wing of the fragile bird. If only she had swerved. But no, her father had always told her it was better to keep driving, ‘Your life first, dear.’ He would always say.
She should not have listened.
And now, the result of her selfishness. This beautiful creature, with its pastel greens, intense purples, and creamy yellows, on such a small body. This bird, which fit neatly into her trembling hand. She apologised to the dying bird over and over, her heartbreaking for this life she had never known before. And as the light went out of the little black eyes; she knew she would never know this life again.
14.4521° S, 132.2715° E (4000 km off the coast of West side of Mexico)
He tugs again at the line, swearing under his breath. The friggin backstay was caught up again. Blasted old shit of a boat. He itches at the mosquito bite on his arm. Why the hell was he doing this again? That’s right, his father wanted to ‘sail the world’ before he died. Well, it would have helped if he had a decent bloody boat. He would have to climb again. And he hated climbing. Hated friggin heights to be exact. Yet, here he was, mounted into the bosun chair waiting for his old dad to winch him up. He feels the first tug, and wraps his legs around the mast, grabbing hold of the lines either side. Tug, pull, tug, pull. The poopdeck looking farther and farther away. The first familiar feeling of sickness coming over him as the waves splash against the boat’s deck.
Tug, pull, tug, pull. He feels himself drop a little. His body stops, but his stomach keeps going.
‘What the frig dad!’ He yells down at his father, no bigger than a beetle on a yellowing piece of wood.
‘Wasn’t anything I did son.’ His dad replies calmly. Always calm, he is always calm.
He reaches the top just as the boat is hit by another wave – a larger one this time. He feels a little drop again, a strange feeling. He ignores it, letting go with one hand as he reaches with the other to unhook the line that has somehow managed to tangle. He tries to untangle it, but it will need two hands. He hates letting go, suspended up in the air, with only the bosun chair and the rope it’s attached too, the only things stopping him from falling to his death.
He slowly removes his other hand and starts to loosen the knot. He has just finished when a Laysan Albatross swoops toward him, a high-pitched shriek coming from its mouth like a young girl screaming. He grabs tight to the lines either side of him, ducking his head, just as another massive wave rocks the boat and the pressure on his bottom gives way.
‘Son!’ His father shouts the warning.
The bosun chair has broken, and the only thing stopping him from being a bag of broken bones on the deck is the two lines he hangs on to for dear life.
It feels like years before the wooden floor is beneath his feet again.
‘Friggin bird!’ He says through chattering teeth.
His father wraps his arms around him, his tears wet his shoulder, ‘That friggin bird just saved your life son.’
53.8655° N, 10.6866° E (Lubeck, Germany)
‘Mama, Mama!’ The little boy was insistent. He was always insistent. Why couldn’t he hurry up and get past this nagging stage? His mother harrumph’s, continuing to ignore him as she sips on her coffee at the quaint café.
She had bought him a vanilla milkshake, which was still sitting on the table opposite her, untouched. This single mother thing was a drag. Her two older kids had already grown up and moved to the other side of the world, leaving her here alone, their father killed in a car accident a few years ago. That was when she started living again. Really living. She started going to bars, dancing and meeting new people. She was no longer “so and so’s mum” or “so and so’s wife”, she was finally her own person.
She smiled as she remembered the night he had sauntered up to her. Sauntered was one of those mushy words from a romance novel that she had always hated. But that was what he did – he sauntered. He bought her a drink, and the rest was history. One incredible night and she never heard from him again. And now the product was squatting near the flower bed lining the café, repeating ‘Mama, Mama’ over and over.
She rolls her eyes and finally gives in.
She leaves the uncomfortable stool and bends down toward her three-year-old son. He has found a dandelion puff, a weed that somehow made it to the garden. She pulls it out, handing it to her son. He beams at her, standing, bouncing with delight in his little green shoes.
She nods to him, unable to stop herself from smiling. He may be annoying, but he sure brightened up her day at times.
He blows on the puff, his cheeks rounded, filled with air, flecks of spit spray the flower’s seeds, and they float away in the breeze.
53.8655° S, 10.6866° W (4000 km East of Argentina)
He takes another puff on his cigarette before rubbing at his eyes. Another early morning, another huge haul to bring up. He thinks of his partner, with his smile and the crinkles in the corner of his left eye.
‘Come back to me’ He had murmured, half asleep.
‘I always do.’ He had replied as he shoved his fishing gear into his overnight bag. The pay was good, and the days off even better. The actual job though sucked. But after this trip, they would be debt-free, and then he could get a normal job. A regular boring desk job where he could be out of the weather, and come home every night to the love of his life.
Yes, normal will be good. He smiled – well, almost smiled. It was too cold to bother a full one.
‘Arse into gear guys – and girls.’ Boss calls out, almost forgetting there were ladies on the ship this time around. The other men had been a little dubious having women on board. But they worked just as hard, if not harder, than the guys. And as soon as Boss called out, the ladies were first at their spots, grabbing at the hooks and starting the machines.
The seagulls floating on the water, hoping for a free feed, fly off as the engines start their screeching noise.
Same as every other time; bring in the haul, put them on ice, service the boat.
The life of a South Atlantic Commercial Fisherman.
Then it came without warning. And at the worst possible time.
He had never told Boss about his seizures. He didn’t think they would allow him on the boat. And besides, he hadn’t had one in years. Which is why he had stopped taking his meds a few weeks ago. He figured he had outgrown them. But no. At first, he stiffened, then the dancing began. That’s what his father had always called it anyway. His dickhead father. It’s the only thing he remembered about him. Sitting in the old beat up lounge chair, beer in hand, cigarette bouncing up and down in his mouth as he laughed, saying, ‘Look at the dancing bear!’
The water was like ice when it hit him. But by then, he was completely unaware as the seizure had hold of his brain.
He didn’t hear the others shouting out for him. He didn’t notice the splashes as people dove into the water.
He didn’t feel the fish nudging past him as the school swam past.
When he came too, it was too late.
He breathed in the last lungful of water.
Bubbles in the water floating past his eyes, looking like the seeds blown from a dandelion puff.