The Domino Effect

"Kelly Ann, wake up you are going to be late", her sister, Cassie yelled. Kelly Ann was always running late. She refused to get out of bed until the last minute. Their mother catered to her youngest daughter's every whim and was partly responsible for her lack of ambition. Cassie managed to wake her sister up without handing her clothes under the covers so she could stay warm while she got dressed. Their mother always did. Kelly Ann started yelling, "where's mom and dad". They are working, Cassie told her, you need to take care of yourself.  

Kelly Ann finally got out of bed and her sister told her she was going to be late for school and was already running a half hour behind. "Oh great", she screamed as she ran out the door and jumped into her practically new red Mustang GT.  

Cassie watched her as she was leaving she couldn't help but laugh to herself thinking it's Saturday you idiot. She wished she could see Kelly Ann's face when she got to school and realized no one else was there. Her parents had made it really convenient for Cassie to pull this prank by scheduling an early golf tee time. 

Cassie loved her sister and her brother too but she was so sick of getting caught in the middle. She watched as her older brother could come and go as he pleased without any restrictions and she watched her younger sister play on her mother and stepfather's sympathy. Although, Cassie was six years older than her younger sibling, they had the same curfew. It didn’t seem to matter that Cassie was in her fourth year of elementary education working toward her teaching degree, while her sophomore high school sister had the same rules. 

Cassie grabbed her back pack, she was going to study with her friend Erin, one of her college classmates. As she threw it in her old Impala, she smiled again thinking her spoiled little sister definitely deserved it. Backing out of the driveway, she was gloating. Cassie wasn't afraid of her sister but she didn't feel like fighting with her today when she got back. Kelly Ann would whine to her parents as soon as they got home after playing golf but for now she had achieved her goal. Her getting out of bed was shocking enough, leaving the house was an added bonus.

Kelly Ann was racing to get to school in her sweet sport’s car. She had only had her license for a few months and was notorious for going too fast. She saw the light had turned red as she was flying through it. Oh well she thought, the cops usually let her go with just a warning it shouldn't be any different today. The chain reaction of the squealing brakes she caused didn't phase her a bit.

The first car to her right managed to stop as she flew by. The cars behind were also forced to slam on their brakes, luckily causing no injuries. Groceries were thrown all over the floor as well as a beautiful diamond engagement ring.

The diamond ring belonged to Jonathon Page, an intern at the local law firm. He purchased the ring ten months ago for his girlfriend, Annie Rollins. Even though he had wanted to get down on one knee numerous times, he had chosen that very night on the third anniversary of their first date. Jonathon planned it out perfectly for his beloved Annie, he made reservations at Chateau Linquier, the restaurant where he had taken her for their very first date.

As Jonathon got his bearings and picked up the diamond ring, he noticed that the setting had fallen out. This night was supposed to be perfect, he thought, now it was ruined. He couldn't give Annie a ring with the diamond setting missing. The jewelry store that he had purchased the ring from was not open until Monday. Jonathon sadly called his girlfriend and told her he needed to reschedule their date.

Annie Rollins, Jonathon’s girlfriend, was distraught from the news. She couldn't believe that Jonathon had cancelled a momentous date in their relationship. In her mind, they had now reached a turning point. Annie had secretly given Jonathon a timeline to propose before she accepted a job offer in Minneapolis, three states away. His time had just expired. With Annie not realizing what had happened she emailed her new employer an acceptance letter.

After disrupting several cars lives, Kelly Ann arrived at the school looking very confused at the empty parking lot. She looked at her phone for the time still not acknowledging the day of the week. She sat there looking dumbfounded after trying the school door for approximately a half hour. While she waited a man pulled up and ask if she needed help. She told him, no, she was just waiting on the school to open. The man looked at her with a strange expression and told her you do know it is Saturday.  

Kelly Ann's face got red and she started screaming Cassie's name, telling the man her sister had tricked her. He seemed sympathetic and let Kelly Ann continue throwing her fit before he turned and exited the school parking lot.

After Cassie got home later that evening, Kelly Ann was still furious. Their mother, brother and stepfather had a good laugh at her expense. After she whined a little while longer, she finally got over it. When she went to bed that night, she fell asleep trying her best to figure out a way to get her sister back.  

Later that same night, Jonathon was also annoyed, he had texted Annie, his girlfriend goodnight without any response. He didn't want to call her because he thought the excitement in his voice may give away his proposal plans. When Annie didn't answer, he thought she must have already fallen asleep. Jonathon didn't realize that she had decided that the only way she could see moving to Minneapolis and taking the new job was to cut off communication with him. She needed a clean break.

The next morning, with her mind made up, Annie loaded up her car with her clothes and TV. Since she lived with her parents, she didn't own any furniture. She kissed her mom and dad goodbye as they pleaded for her to reconsider and then headed for the interstate. She was hoping to be in the city before nightfall and be able to determine a safe place to stay. Annie told herself that this was a chance to start a brand new life without Jonathon, she had already wasted enough time. The last three years had been good but they also had their problems especially the one where he didn't want to marry her. Annie reassured herself that it was time to focus on herself and her career. She didn’t need a man to hold her down.  

When the morning came, Jonathon continued to text Annie, he was really surprised and getting a little concerned of why she hadn't answered him. She never chose to play games and that was one of the things he loved about her. She had never made him feel like he had to constantly prove his love. In his eyes their relationship was something that Hollywood movies could learn from. They were a happy couple and he couldn't wait to make her his wife.  

Unknown to Jonathon, Annie had already driven several hours away toward Minneapolis. As she drove, Annie thought the distance she put between her and Jonathon would help her feel better, but it didn't. Her mind wouldn't let it go, she couldn't understand why he didn't want to marry her. She did everything she could to make him happy. Three years was a long time to wait for a proposal though, she thought, and she was tired of waiting . If his parents failed marriage helped him make the decision, that was his problem. Maybe the next girl in line could convince him, Annie felt like she couldn't. 

A couple month's went by and Cassie's joke was pretty much forgotten. Her family spent Christmas together laughing and exchanging gifts. Her big brother announced his engagement, Kelly Ann was on Christmas break and going to cheerleading competitions and Cassie had one more semester before starting student teaching. 

As Cassie transitioned into the classroom she realized she had chosen the right profession. The children’s smiles and desire to learn brought her great joy. She knew she always wanted to be a teacher from the time she was a little girl playing school with her friends. Her only other career choice was princess and it was already taken. 

After school, Cassie would meet up with her friends. They usually met at a bar near campus and would eat appetizers for dinner while enjoying a few cold ones. The girls mainly focused on work and would often talk about the little three foot terrors that they had encountered for the day. So when the bartender brought them drinks and said compliments from the guy at the bar, Cassie was a little surprised.  

That is the day Cassie met Matt, he came over right after the drinks were served and introduced himself and asked if he could sit down. Matt had a nice smile and had an air of confidence about him that Cassie found extremely attractive. She hadn't dated much through college, using all of her energy to make the dean’s list, but with Matt’s good looks she was definitely open to it now.  

It didn't take long for them to become a couple. Cassie and Matt spent practically everyday together. Her parents found him a candidate for their daughter that they found acceptable because he was polite, had a good job and seemed to love Cassie. Kelly Ann was jealous, which was a bonus and all seemed right with the world. She had moved out of her parent’s house, she finally got a paying teaching job, and her and Matt enjoyed the freedom of playing house. 

One day after work, she found a sweet note from Matt laying on the kitchen table when she got home. She had a really hard day at work with every child in her classroom seeming to have some kind of meltdown. It was a nice diversion after spending the day with kindergarteners, she wondered if first graders would be a little more settled. The note read "I would like the presence of your company for dinner." He went on to give her the details, the restaurant name and told her to wear her pretty red dress. She was tired but a little excited and wondered what he had planned.  

Cassie got to the restaurant dressed to the nine's. She knew she must look good by the way men were checking her out as she walked by. It didn't take her long to spot Matt and he motioned for her to join him at the table. Cassie walked up and she was a little startled by the box on the table. She wasn't prepared for that, they had only been dating six months, it is too soon, she thought. 

Calm down, she thought, as she recomposed herself, it might be a necklace or bracelet.  

Matt got up and pulled out her chair like the true gentleman he was. He laughed as he saw Cassie glance down at the box and then he picked it up. Matt started telling Cassie a story, he told her that there was a beautiful diamond ring in the box. He said that he wanted to give the ring to his girlfriend. 

Cassie started sweating, she was not prepared for this. What would she say. 

Matt continued telling Cassie a story about when he had bought the ring. He said that he had purchased it eighteen months ago. Now Cassie was confused, she didn't even know him eighteen months ago. With Cassie's confused stare, Matt told her he hadn't purchased it for her but for a woman that he had been dating for three years. He told Cassie that he was planning on meeting his girlfriend at this same restaurant La Chateau Linquier. He then opened the box and showed Cassie the ring. Matt explained that the setting had been knocked out when he slammed on his brakes to avoid rear ending a car in front of him eight months ago. 

Cassie was really confused now, what is he trying to say, she thought. Matt went on to tell her about that day. It was a Saturday, he said, a red Mustang GT ran through a stoplight without even a hint of a brake light. It caused a chain reaction of slamming brakes and thrown items all over the cars including this engagement ring.  

Cassie was trying to follow the story but knew he had lost her now when she asked who was the ring for. Matt told her he was glad she had asked, her name was Annie. We had been dating three years and it was the anniversary of our first date. The damage to the ring ruined his proposal. Annie, his girlfriend, thought he had no intention of ever marrying her so she left town. Cassie feeling stupid thinking he wanted to marry her asked if he couldn't find Annie and marry her. Matt said the day after he cancelled plans with Annie she was involved in a fatal car collision on her way to Minneapolis. The only thing he had left of her was the ring.

Cassie told Matt, she was sorry, but didn't know what else to say. Matt continued to talk and told Cassie that Matt was his middle name and he went by Jonathon. The night was getting stranger and stranger as Cassie thought, who is this guy. She finally asked him why are you telling me all of this. He looked at Cassie with a steely glaze in his eyes and told her because she was responsible.  

Cassie was on the verge of flight realizing she had no idea who this guy was but still wanted to know why he thought she was responsible.  

Jonathon told her that he followed her sister, Kelly Ann, the day she ran the red light and found out her sister, Cassie, had caused her to think she was late for school on a Saturday. He told her also that she was a little hard to track down since her and her sister had different last names.

Cassie blankly stared at Matt or Jonathon, whatever his name was and felt sorry for him. She wondered how a man could hold onto such bitterness when the series of events that had taken place were consequential without malice. They we’re living on a planet that was constantly moving at 1000 miles per hour and rotated around the sun every twenty four hours. This cosmic event caused reactions that resembled dominoes. With one small tap on the linear chain, they all would go spiraling

Cassie knew she did cause her sister Kelly Ann to go to school on a Saturday but she could not take responsibility for his girlfriend's death.

As she stood up from the table, she smiled at Jonathon and then walked out of the restaurant. Cassie was hoping by hurting her that it would be enough revenge for him and he could now begin the long process of healing.  

August 09, 2020 02:51

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Diana Snyder
15:31 Aug 11, 2020

I really enjoyed the story. It showed how our actions affect others, even without realizing sometimes. I read the last paragraph in the story several times. Thinking about the pain in Matt's life and now Cassies. Very thought provoking.


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Alma Lewis
13:34 Aug 09, 2020

Well written, descriptive and has good connection between characters. The story’s conclusion has a surprising twist reflective of its title.


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