All Stories, General Fiction

A Game of Consequences by Sandra Arnold

If she hadn’t looked at her phone at the exact moment she was crossing the road she would have…

crossed to the other side. Entered the building. Had her interview. Impressed the panel with her verve and creativity. Got the job. Earned a good salary. Bought an apartment in the city. Travelled around the world for three weeks every year for the next decade. Fallen in love with an Italian opera singer. Broken up with him after discovering his numerous affairs. She’d have lived alone for several years. Taken up painting as a hobby. Started visiting art galleries. Bought a dog. Left her job. Opened an art gallery. Organised exhibitions for up-and-coming artists. Married one of them. Given birth to two daughters. The youngest would have died of a drug overdose at fifteen. The eldest, unable to bear the weight of her mother’s grief, would have left home to live in a commune in Ecuador and drowned in the sea. The artist would have gone swimming in a riptide soon after. His beautiful paintings would be forgotten. In five years no one would  remember his name.

But she did look at her phone and because she didn’t look up in time she didn’t see the truck hurtling towards her, so…

a paraplegic man gets the job she would have been offered, enabling him to live independently for the first time in his life. The Italian opera singer continues trying to find the perfect woman until he dies of a heart attack. The artist lives alone all his life

unencumbered by domestic responsibilities and achieves international fame. He dies aged ninety, after which books are written about him, ensuring his immortality. The two children, of course, don’t exist.

The truck driver’s delayed reaction was because…

he’d taken a swig from the whisky bottle he’d kept under a blanket on his passenger seat  since his wife of ten years had left him three months ago. In the act of replacing the bottle he’d taken his eyes off the road a second or two before he saw the girl. If he’d been able to stop in time he would have carried on driving for another six  months, drinking on the job every day, until the time he was so drunk he forgot to fill the tank with petrol and his truck stopped dead on a railway line and even though he could see the train hurtling down the track he would have lacked the coordination to undo his seatbelt.


after the incident with the girl the truck driver is found guilty in court and imprisoned for ten years. When he comes out he trains as a drug and alcohol abuse counsellor and saves the lives of thirty addicts. This is the age he’d been when he’d looked up to see a young woman dashing across the road looking at her phone.

Sandra Arnold

Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

20 thoughts on “A Game of Consequences by Sandra Arnold”

  1. Sandra

    This is an outstanding and well measured glimpse into the “butterfly effect.” Destiny may only be writ when the tipping point of random occurrence is arrived at. Not yet hit by the truck, yet that end is inescapable. Or maybe it is The Moving Finger. Excellent.


  2. Hi Sandra,
    I’m delighted this is on the site. You were a pleasure to work with and you have produced a very clever piece of excellent story-telling.
    All the very best.


  3. Sandra’s story held my attention because of the chill that turned my bones to ice. The consequential results of a sequence of what ifs reminds me of the careless attitudes that surrounds me daily–– or maybe it is just me. I appreciate short stories worming into my mind, and this one has.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This game of consequences is one that never ends. The 30 addicts whose lives were saved branch into many more possible realities. Guess we need a multiverse to account for them. An interesting and thought-provoking read.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What if? Could be applied to accident, abortion, a simple twist of fate. Is everything pre-ordained or simply random…. this well written piece makes me think! Reminds me of that song by Dan Bern called “God Said No.” I like the positive outcome for the guy in the prison system at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Really enjoyed this. I like how it highlights the contingent nature of life and the quirks of what and how society values.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.