The Umbrella Effect

This fiction is a response to Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge:   The Butterfly Effect. 

Sally woke up in a terrible headache. She had been sweating all night, and now her throat felt like a fish bone stuck in it. The fever came at mid-night, followed by pains in all muscles and a mixture of hot and cold thrill all over her body. All symptoms are here – Sally apparently caught a cold.

 

Sally curled up herself in a ball in bed, cursing any bastard stranger that had taken her umbrella. Yesterday, she swung by The Coffee Cup to grab a cup of milkshake and fried chicken for dinner. On walking out, Sally found out the crystal blue umbrella she left at the doorstep of the coffee shop had gone. It was about to sprinkle all over the place, and the thick dark clouds floating above the head suggested that this sprinkling rain would no way be everything the sky wanted to offer that evening. Sally lived just four blocks from here, so she covered her head with her purse and headed home. Unfortunately, the rain got worse quickly, and before Sally could get into her shelter, she was already wet from head to toe.

And that’s how Sally caught a cold. Because of some stupid stranger stealing her umbrella.

 

Sally called in sick for work and retreated back into her comfortable blanket. It had been a very long time since the last time she was on leave – well, since like, never. Sally loved her job, so a minor common cold or slight fever could never stop her from going to work. But today she decided to stay home. Sally never knew what her apartment was like at this time of the day, as she seemed to always have a reason to go out. She laid back and enjoyed the silence. Then suddenly, there was a strange sound from her balcony. It sounded like some of her plant pots had just been broken. Sally rushed toward the balcony, where she found a white ball of fur lying amongst the crime scene – her rosemary pot had broken into pieces. This must be some cat from the neighborhood. Sally gave out her hands to pick up the cat “It’s OK honey. I’m not mad. Now I’ll take you home.” But the cat panicked. It ran around the balcony as Sally chased it, and finally jumped up to escape. The point is, the cat was obese. It was the kind of spoilt cat who did nothing all day but sleeping and eating and playing around the neighborhood, so obviously it had no expertise in jumping. To make matters worse, it was bottom-heavy. So as the cat jumped up the balcony to escape, its body flung over. And it was 7th floor.

Sally was terrified. Luckily the cat could just grab the balcony in a second and was still holding on. Sally quickly picked it up and held it in her arms. She could feel the cat’s heart beating like a drum. “It’s OK. It’s OK.”

Sally gave the cat a little milk; then she put on her coat and took the cat around the building, planning on knocking everyone’s door. “The cat is most possibly from my floor. If it can jump into my balcony, there’s no way this amateur can jump so far from other floors. It has to be on 7th floor.” And she was right. When she knocked on the last house, the one in the corner of the right wing, a guy opened. He looked extremely sad with red sodden eyes, but as he noticed the cat in Sally’s arms, his face glowed with relief.

“Oh my God, you’re here! Everyone, Sally is here!”

“You know my name?” – her heart shrank hearing the guy calling her name.

“Oh excuse me?” – he picked the cat from Sally and looked surprised – “Can I take Sally? Oh it’s the cat’s name. Your name is Sally, too? Ah, that’s interesting!”

“What’s up, Don? Someone found Sally?” – an older woman showed up at the door.

“Yes, Mom. This is Sally. Sally found our Sally!”

“Really? God must have sent you here, dear! Thank you! Thank you so much!” – the woman said with honesty in her voice. She then took the cat back into their home. Sally could see her eyes were already wet. “I’m taking Sally to her now!”

“You live in this building right? I have seen you several times.” – the guy asked.

“Yes, just across the hall. I guess that’s it. I’m going home.”

“Well… this is… I don’t know how to say this… but we’re so thankful you found Sally… Could you… we would love to invite you over sometime as a thank-you…”

“No, no, it’s just nothing…”

“No, I mean it. I would love to invite you over… It’s just that, my Granny is…” – the guy looks like he was trying to hold back his tears – “My Granny’s clock is ticking…You know what I mean… She loves Sally so much, and it hurts that when she is about to go, Sally was nowhere to be found. So this means so much to us, really. You saved her soul. Now my Granny can see Sally and be relieved…”

 

***

 

Somehow in that strange morning, Sally found a cat in her balcony, saved its life and took it back to the owners. Her life changed dramatically after that. She gave the cat back to its owner, Mrs. Donovan, in time, so that she could see her beloved cat before she left the world at the age of 97. Don then invited Sally over for dinner with his family, then a dinner with him alone. They fell in love and got married shortly after that. Sally could never expect her life to be so different within just six months after the rare morning she stayed home because of a common cold she did not plan to catch.

 

But this is the most bizarre part of the story. On the day Sally was stolen the umbrella, a guy dropped in that coffee shop just five minutes before her. When he walked out, he was answering a phone call from his mother, regarding his grandmother’s condition. The guy was so worried that he totally forgot he left his crystal blue umbrella home. He saw an identical one at the doorstep of the coffee shop and thought it was his. Hence he took it and hurriedly rushed home to see his Granny.

The guy was Don.

Dạ Ly

 

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