The missing coat

I’ve been thinking a lot about time, fate, destiny, and the ‘Butterfly Effect’ recently. I often wonder if just one little thing had been different when I was growing up, would I be the person that I am today? Would I have lost so much and yet gained so much, too? The weird thing is, I know where everything started to change, and it was such a seemingly insignificant moment. 

For Christmas, when I was about 6 or 7, I’d been given a puffa jacket. A thick, warm coat that I couldn’t wait to wear to school. Firstly, because I thought I’d look super cool in it. It was the 90s, after all. Secondly, because just before Christmas I’d had a load of kids stuff snow down the back of my school jumper. It was a shitty school full of shitty people and I was having a shitty time. I thought that maybe, just maybe, this coat would keep the bullies away. Failing that, they’d have a much harder time stuffing snow down the back of a puffa jacket than a school jumper. On the first day back at school after Christmas, I went to get my coat out of the hallway cupboard. It wasn’t there. I remember throwing such a tantrum that day. I needed that coat. It was going to keep me warm. It was going to protect me from the snow in more ways than one! 

“We’ll find it,” my dad told me. 

Little did I know that the night before, someone had broken into my house through the kitchen window and stolen so much more than just my coat. If it hadn’t been for my baby brother waking up and needing a feed, the whole house could have been looted. My mum turned the kitchen light on just as a pair of trainers made their way back out of the window. They’d taken Christmas presents, the family video camera, and, most importantly to me, my coat. I didn’t find out what happened to the missing coat or that it was the reason so much was about to change until I was much older. As far as I was concerned, the coat had just vanished into thin air. That moment was my family’s ‘Butterfly Effect’ moment. 

My mum couldn’t bear the thought that someone had been in the house, going through all of her stuff. She hated that she could have come face to face with someone robbing her. She wanted to move. Not just out of that house or street or town. She wanted to move out of the country. No amount of fancy alarm system my dad got installed was going to change her mind. The wheels were in motion and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. However, this one seemingly small disaster, compared to how bad it could have been, was to become the catalyst for so much more. It’s like the snowball that had been stuffed down my jumper was rolling down a mountain, getting bigger and bigger, creating an avalanche in its wake. This was to be the beginning of the end of my ‘normal family life.’

Before we moved away, two people tried to get my parents to change my mind. The first was my best friend, Danielle. We’d been thick as thieves through the first few years of primary school and she lived just across the road from me. As soon as she found out she’d get sole custody of my rabbit, Floppy, however, she wasn’t too fussed about me leaving. Maybe she’d robbed us? She did always love that rabbit… 

The other person who thought we shouldn’t move away was my headmaster. Although it was a shitty school full of shitty people, my old headmaster was one of the good guys. I don’t remember what he looks like anymore, but whenever I think about him I picture Barack Obama. I’m 99.9% sure he looked nothing like Obama, though. He was adamant I’d be one of the first kids in the area to take my 11+ a year early, if I kept up at the rate I was going. I thought going to ‘big school’ a year early sounded worse than being locked in the guinea pig pen we had at primary school (something that actually happened), and so I agreed with my parents we should leave. If anything, to escape the madman headmaster and his delusion that I was a clever clogs. Not long after the butterfly wingbeat break-in, the majority of our stuff was packed into a moving lorry, and we were being waved off by Danielle and Floppy the rabbit. 

“Seeee ya, suckers!” I thought, “I’m moving to Greece.”

Read part 2: Paradise

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