What Went Through my Mind when I First Read About the Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory - the Phenomenon Whereby a Minute Localized Change in a Complex System can have Large Effects Elsewhere
What if the lady at reception hadnít been the White Witch from Narnia, and reception hadnít been made of dark secret panels and a spidery staircase? What if the waiting room hadnít smelt of Dettol and goblins and been full of pale-faced ghosts coughing and wheezing and straining for breath? What if time hadnít stretched, making seconds into forever like it does when youíre four-and-three-quarters, or thereíd been music playing like there is nowadays, something off the radio at home that dad knew all the words to, something by The Beatles or The Seekers so I couldnít hear the magazine pages rattling brittle as bony fingers turned them over and over and over? What if I hadnít jittered nearly out of my skin when the white-witch-lady called out my mumís name?
What if Dr Young had been smiley-faced with a kind-warm voice like Grandad Alec and not an ancient ogre with slicked-back silvery hair? What if he hadnít peered at me from behind his troll-bridge desk and asked in exactly the same voice as the Child Catcher if I was the sort of nice little girl that liked sweeties? What if Iíd shaken my head as mum went behind the screen instead of sitting there on the too-big chair letting him press six Smarties into my hot little hand?
What if thereíd been a bin or a purse or a pocket to put them in so the candy colours hadnít run into a sickly rainbow when he followed my mum behind the screen?† What if their voices hadnít talked in magical spells as the Smarties melted into a sticky goo, and I hadnít pulled my hand up into the sleeve of my coat as mum came out still tucking her shirt into her baggy black slacks? What if Dr Young hadnít bent down to whisper at the surgery door with breath that smelled of Uncle Joeís mint balls, now you will be a good little girl for your granny wonít you, whilst your mummyís in hospital?
What if Iíd raged and wailed and writhed and bitten and scratched and thrashed and spat and screamed, I wonít be good, Iíll never be good then my mumíll stay at home with me where sheíll be safe from goblins and monsters and you?
What if I hadnít just nodded my head and walked toward the stained-glass panes in the grand front doors that lead out onto the busy main road, and mum hadnít reached down to take my hand and shaken her head as she took out a starched hanky from her big brown handbag and wiped me clean with spit and smiles? What if she hadnít helped me climb into the passenger seat of our blue Ford Anglia and driven us off into the same-old future, raising a protective hand in front of me every time we stopped at traffic lights and junctions as if she knew something bad was going to happen, as if she knew what was coming?