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Ripple effect

by Ford Kidd 10 months ago in Short Story
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...we are all links of the same chain

Photo by Bru-no

My grandmother always said that a person's destiny is determined by his desire to help his neighbor. Your personal grief does not exist, we are all links of the same chain, and if you hurt someone, it will roll down like a snowball, sweeping away the fates of other people on its way. This means that you have caused grief not to one, but several, dozens of people. This butterfly effect extends to everything around. We are already unwittingly doing evil every day. There is no need to commit it consciously.

At the same time, my grandmother often told a story that became almost a parable in our family.


The season was particularly hot that year. The sun beat down mercilessly, burning the ground to dry cracks and discoloring the dark green foliage on tired trees. Autumn was late, the same sultry, dusty, and stuffy. The air thickened like jelly, smearing the horizon with an uneven line. Despite that, the wheat harvest in the fields was a success. Young shoots wasn't burnt out under the greedy rays of the luminary, they grew, got stronger, filled with large grains. Yellow ears of corn motionlessly bowed their heads to the ground, reminiscent of a calm, windless sea.

Harvest time was approaching. Everyone in the village was glad that they wouldn’t have to starve in winter.

The night was coming down, twilight had already descended on the tired village, and brought some fresh air from the west. Everywhere were heard the voices of children, rising like bird calls. There was still a little time before dinner, the men were sitting on the street, resting after hard work, the women were baking, steaming, and boiling. A flock of children rushed between the huts, limp and playful as sparrows. A bright spark flashed. It was Miloš, the son of Paul, he got cattail stalks and with the help of a torch began to set fire to a dark brown cob. Smoke rose into the air, driving away the bunch of mosquitoes.

"Hey! Buster!" Sergius-The Blacksmith appeared nearby. "What are you doing? D’you want to start the fire? Get out here! Now!"

The noisy motley crowd split up like the waves in the water. The log walls of the huts were a bad place to play with fire. The children rushed to the river. In the deepening darkness, burning dots flashed like falling stars from the sky. They hardly run away a couple of yards when an enthusiastic voice stopped them:

"Miloš! Peter! Look what we found today!" It was Anna, Miloš's young sister. Her blonde hair was messy, making her neatly braided braid look unkempt. The girl was holding a wicker basket in her hands. She carefully pushed the lid open, and in the coming twilight, the boys saw a pigeon. It sat motionless, turning its head from time to time and looking at the children with black beaded eyes. Withered grass lay around.

"We found it in the afternoon. The poor thing got caught in a rabbit trap. But we saved it!" Anna raised her head proudly. She wanted to add something else, but then Miloš quickly reached out and pulled the pigeon out of the basket. His fingers wrapped around the feathered body, feeling how frightened the bird was breathing.

"Give it back! Give it back!" Anna shouted, trying to take the pigeon away from her brother. "Give it back now! Or I'll tell my father!"

But Miloš only burst out laughing, raising his hand with the bird above his head and jumping up and down.

"Try and take it away!"

Anna was joined by her friend Maya, the girls circled Miloš, but he only laughed. The rest gladly swooped in the seemingly harmless game.

"Give it back!" Anna shouted angrily and stamped her foot.

"Or I will tell our mother that it was not the cat Bayun who broke the jug of honey, but you!"

Miloš froze for a second. Then his childish face twisted with anger.

"Will you? You're a sneak! A sneak must be punished! Right, guys?"

The crowd agreed in unison.

Anna wiped away her angry tears and clenched her small fists, moving firmly towards her brother.

"Give it to me. Or you'll regret it!"

The crowd parted, forming a circle, with brother and sister standing in the center. Miloš looked at the determined girl, wondering what to do. On the one hand, he didn't want to get an “earful” from his mother for the broken jar and offending Anna. On the other hand, the sneak needs to be punished. And Miloš most of all hated snitching. He stood surrounded by the bitter smoke of a slowly smoldering cattail. And suddenly a completely unexpected thought flashed through him. Yes! He will punish his sister! She deserves it! The boy slowly lowered his hand with a dove.

"Take your pigeon!"

And at the same moment, the end of a burning cattail poked into the bird's breast. The poor creature fluttered, flapped its wings, breaking out of sweaty boyish palms. The sparks hitting the delicate fluff ignited, and in a minute the flame engulfed the dove. The bird cooed loudly in agony, flying up into the darkening sky above the silent children. Infernal pain drove little God’s creature to the only place that its mind still remembered. Its nest.

Anna screamed as she watched the dove as if a burning ember flew several yards before the fire burned its wings to the ground. The bird fell like a small meteorite, continuing to burn out in the air. It almost flew to the nest, where the chicks were waiting for their parent ...

...Pigeons often make nests under the roofs of houses, arranging their places on wooden beams. And when the poor bird did not reach its chicks only a few yards, it collapsed onto the nearest hut. That thatched roof flared up like a huge bonfire, dry vegetation ignited in the blink of an eye, and a pillar of fire rose into the starry sky. There were screams, people tumbled out into the street, rushing to the well with water.

But it is difficult to stop the fire that raged in a sultry time.

Less than a couple of minutes, the orange tongues jumped to the neighboring hut, and now it was burning like a match. The rushing bright dots in agony burst out of the flames and seemed quite tiny in comparison with the burning huts. They flew in different directions, in their last dying flight, carrying flames everywhere. They flew, trying to escape pain and death, bursting into the evening air and falling into the yellow dry sea.

There was a crackling sound. As if hundreds of dry branches broke simultaneously under someone's weight. Sergius-The Blacksmith turned around and was stunned.

The field was too close, it was deliberately placed more closely to the village and the river.

And it was engulfed in fire. A crazy uncontrollable flame that devoured everything in its path. The stems turned to ash in a second, everything hummed, cracked, howled. Flashes of sparks soared upward, lost in the night sky. On one side the village was burning, on the other - wheat, and it was unknown what’s worse. But the last hut did not manage to burn out, and the field was already black. Where, until recently, yellow juicy ears of wheat floated in light wind, only burnt ash remained.

It was not possible to extinguish all the huts. They were putting out flames all night, trying to save something. With the onset of the morning, the first timid rays of the sun snatched out the tired faces of the men in the middle of the ashes. Logs were smoking, roofs collapsed, children were crying, women were lamenting. Even the storage was burnt to the ashes.

A long rainy, very cold, harsh winter was ahead.

Somewhere the hushed Miloš and Anna lurked, not yet fully understanding the extent of the general tragedy.

Meanwhile, the bright sun was rising.

Short Story

About the author

Ford Kidd

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