It’s the year 2018. Scientists have just figured out a way to travel through time. You have been living in the same house for 10 years now and you’ve been fretting over the fact that your front yard and the road leading up to your house have been barren since the time you constructed the house. Vestiges of the forest that used to exist here, before you cut it down and built your house over it, can be seen near the main gate and the outer boundary. This upsets you and you want things to change. But if you start planting trees now, it’ll take years for the green cover to return to the area.
You sit on the bench in your porch and think about what to do. As you’re pondering, a lone crow comes flying to your porch and perches on your main gate and glares at you. You decide you’ve had enough of only the one crow visiting your house and decide to fix things. Your house was constructed back in December of 2010, 8 years ago. What if you could travel back in time and plant some trees? Surely they’d grow by 2018 and your front yard wouldn’t look so arid anymore.
You grit your teeth and stand up with a start. “Today’s the day things are going to ch-”
“Më vjen keq! Don’t mind me. Flutur escaped again, I’m just looking for her!” yells Roel, your Albanian neighbour, as he comes bursting through your main gate with a net in his hand, interrupting your inner monologue. Roel has been living next door for a few years and is quite a softy, despite his tough exterior. Flutur is his pet butterfly, a gorgeous one at that - a blue swallowtail with gossamer, iridescent blue hindwings that shimmer as she flies. The wings are particularly helpful in locating her when she runs away, which happens more often than nought.
Roel takes one look around your front yard and dashes out the gate before you can gather your thoughts and offer to help him look for Flutur. “Oh well”, you shrug and focus your thoughts back to the mission ahead of you.
Time travel is a tricky thing. It’s just been discovered so there are very stringent rules and regulations built around it. One has to specify the exact date, time, latitude and longitude of where they want to go. You’re only allowed 5 minutes in any era that you travel to. And you can get permission to travel through time only once in 2 months. You also have to sign all kinds of documentation ensuring that you won’t interact with past or future you (if they exist) and acknowledging the heavy fines that’ll be levied if you do. But you’ve made up your mind to plant a few trees in 2010 so you’re prepared to sign any contract necessary.
Two days later, the Time Travel Watch is delivered to your house. You spot Roel in the distance playing with Flutur. You check your pockets for the seeds that you want to plant. You set the time on the Time Travel Watch and press the silver button underneath it. The last thing you remember is your vision distorting and a dark shimmery blue field pervading your field of sight. For nearly 5 minutes, you float around in a kind of limbo, not being able to see or hear or feel or smell. You’re only starkly aware of the fact that you’ll soon have a few nice trees in your front yard once this time travel period is over.
Suddenly your vision stabilizes and you find yourself in the middle of a construction sight. Bricks and sacks of cement lie all around you and you realize that you’ve landed right in the middle of the construction phase of your house back in 2010. You need to get out of sight soon, time travel has strict rules. You make your way to the main gate, crouching to try and stay out of the way. You keep turning around every few seconds to see if anybody’s spotted you yet. 2010-You steps out of the half built house. You keep your calm and pick up the pace. When you finally reach the main gate, you glance at your watch and realize that you’re already down by 1 minute. 2010-You hasn’t noticed anything amiss yet. Understanding the dearth of time, you decide to plant only 10 seeds near the main gate, each 1 metre away from the other. You hasten to make a small hole and drop the first seed in.
As you’re filling the hole with mud you decide to glance up and make sure you’re still concealed, but something is very wrong now. 2010-You keeps pointing in your direction and shouting indistinguishable instructions at the construction workers. You can’t risking messing with the spacetime continuum so you decide to abort the mission and zap back home. Your heart starts pounding and you struggle to set the time on the Time Travel Watch. The construction workers have almost reached the main gate. Somehow you finally manage to press the silver button and ZAP. Your vision distorts again and you’re unable to see or hear or feel or smell. You’re only starkly aware of the disappointment you feel, having only been able to plan a single seed. What will you do with only one tree in your front yard? The one tree will only be able to house the one crow. Even Flutur will stop deigning to come to your front yard. Why would she? What does your yard have to offer her?
After a few minutes, your vision stabilizes and you find yourself on the ground. You slowly stand up and dust your clothes off. When you finally raise your eyes and take a stock of your surroundings, your heart stops. You have no idea where you are. In front of you lies a dense green forest, extending beyond the boundaries of your vision. Right in front of you stands a tree with a thick branch and beautiful pink flowers at the ends of various branches. Behind the tree are several others, some tall with beautiful big leaves, some shorter with rich fruits hanging from every branch. The light streaks through the boughs in both brilliant and shadowy beams. The air feels rich with the fragrance of leaves and loam, damp too. Rough and shaggy like uncombed hair, coarse, blue-green grass, long and unkempt, is waving and rustling in the breeze. You tilt your head back and look at the sky where you see the one crow but also his many friends.
You slowly start to realize that this forest is a result of your one seed. That the tiniest of changes brought about the transformation of an entire ecosystem. You’d heard of a theory before, but you can’t seem to remember what it was called. The theory stated "small causes can have larger effects". You realize that even though you were able to plant only one seed, your action caused a rich dense forest to come alive right in the area, that was just mere minutes ago, completely barren.
Shaken, you fall to the floor, overwhelmed with the turn of events. The beauty in the forest before you has brought tears to your eyes. To your right you hear a slight flutter of wings. You lift your sodden eyes and see Flutur, hovering in the air, flapping her wings ever so slightly. And it hits you. You remember the name of the phenomenon. It’s called the Butterfly Effect. Flutur looks at you, and she seems to be trying to convey something to you. "You're right Flutur. I think I'll call it the Flutur Effect."