The Butterfly Effect

“I’m not supposed to be here,” Nadia muttered to herself. “I don’t belong here.”

She was examining one of the many family portraits taken a few years ago. The model family. Father, mother, two loving children were all smiling. It was one of their annual family photos taken on Mother’s Day. Nadia smiled, remembering how ill-tempered their daughter, Pia, was during the photo session. She wouldn’t settle down and cried for her mother to stay with her while having her photo taken.

Nadia recalled that was the day she discovered the steamy text message threads between her husband and Yolanda, his co-worker. He worked late every night and sometimes on weekends. Deadlines, he had said. Always deadlines. There was never a regular working day in his world, apparently. And the eager Yolanda was always willing to share the work with him. They worked together, traveled together, and played together. Nadia bit her lower lip as the photos from the text messages flashed through her memory.

"Siblings", by Rolands Lakis
“Siblings”, by Rolands Lakis.

She ran an index finger along another portrait on the living room wall, one of the two children on the beach. That was last summer on Cape Cod. Perfect weather. Everyone had a great time that day. Smiling faces belied the unpleasant feelings that Nadia still could not shake off after her tenth year to marriage to husband, Marco. Nor the series of coincidences that brought them together.

Fourteen years ago, Nadia was an aspiring foreign language interpreter completely focused on finishing University and getting a job with the Foreign Office in Paris, France. She had studied French and Spanish in high school, and French, Spanish, and German Languages with a business minor at University. She grew up speaking two languages and her family had always traveled extensively through Europe and Asia while she was growing up. This was all she had ever wanted to do.

Her plan was running smoothly. In the summer before her final year, Nadia applied to two different jobs to gain some work experience. One was with the Venezuelan Institute, teaching Spanish as a second language and the other, Kennedy, Inc., was a major international wholesale trader. In the end, she accepted a part-time job as a marketing representative at Kennedy, Inc. where she worked three days per week through the summer collecting data on competitors and products in the industry. Although she would have preferred teaching Spanish to high school students, Kennedy offered more flexibility. At the end of the summer, they asked her to stay on for two days a week, while she finished her final year of university, after which she would be traveling to Europe.

It was December that same year that Marco also started working at Kennedy. Two months later they were dating. By the time Nadia was ready to graduate from university, she had decided to postpone her travel to France, in favor of her new relationship. She figured she’d take a year off from school anyway and started working full time at Kennedy. The excitement and new financial freedom that resulted from working full time in a business environment soon superseded thoughts of moving elsewhere.

Two years later, all plans for working at the Foreign Office in France were shelved as her relationship with Marco progressed and she started earning more money. In time, they were making wedding plans, then came babies, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, several years later, Nadia recounted her plans from the past and wondered how life would have been different if she had followed her own plans and went on to Europe, sacrificing the fledgling relationship instead of her career path. What if she had never taken the position at Kennedy, Inc. during the summer or not accepted full-time employment there? What if Marco hadn’t started there until one year later, instead of while she was still there? Their paths would never have crossed and she wouldn’t be filled with that sickening knot in the pit of her stomach that refused to go away.

She felt her mobile phone vibrating in her back pocket and checked the messages. It was from Marco.

“Working late tonight,” the message read. “Don’t wait up for me.”


For this week’s writing challenge, tell us about your own Butterfly Effect. What’s one small change that could have happened in your life, and how could that have affected everything that you know?

Featured post “Butterfly” by Paraflyer. Under a Creative Commons Licence at


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