The Domino Effect This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 30, 2009
Recently, my older sister came home for a visit from college. Usually she brings souvenirs from her university for each of us, but this time was different. She stepped through the door holding a small, fuzzy, black and white ball of fur. A rabbit was cradled in her arms.

She told us that she had bought it at college but there was a strict rule that no pets were allowed in the dorms. The rabbit would be staying here. My parents turned to me and said, “Have fun with it, Kurtis,” and my first thought was, Oh great, another thing I’m responsible for.

It’s been about a week since I started caring for the critter, whom I named Domino. I refill his food bowl, make sure he has enough hay to chew on, and fill the water dispenser. I have grown quite fond of Domino and a bit intrigued by him. I can sit for hours watching the little guy as he wanders around his cage.

Every day he gnaws at the cage door. I wonder if he is suffering, being such a small and defenseless animal. He will never be free to do as he pleases; his whole life he will be caged, eating pellets and vegetables, and drinking from a water dispenser. Never will he be able to run free in the woods or feel the warmth of summer or smell the flowers or the crisp winter air.

When I watch him chew at his cage in his solitude, longing to be free, I am reminded of myself. Domino’s cage is probably two feet by two feet, while I am confined by parents, teachers, coaches, and friends, each with their standards. And I must conform to those standards to satisfy them. Being trapped is a feeling that nobody likes, not even a rabbit, but we all feel it.

I live in a small town where everyone knows everything about everybody. This puts a great deal of pressure on me to succeed, because if I don’t, everyone will know and look down on me. This seven-mile stretch of land is my cage. When I look into Domino’s deep eyes, I see desperation and dissatisfaction. When I look in the mirror, I see the same. This creature has, without knowing it, opened my eyes to the truth about myself. We are not so different, and I feel his pain.

Now is the time for me to make a change, to break free from the mold or be trapped for life in this confining cage.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

RealizeNone17 said...
Mar. 8, 2011 at 8:10 pm

You know what makes this special? I know a lot of people who will complain about how they are put under pressure, but you didn't just write what you feel like in serious prose.... you put in comparison to poor Domino. This piece is almost like an extended metaphor, (actually I think I can call it an extended metaphor...) and that's what makes it unique.

Hope you accomplish what you want to accomplish :)

screenname! said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 4:53 pm
Nice. I like your essay.
Dokidoki-rin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 2, 2009 at 12:05 pm
aww, this is so sad. and then there's just that one little hopeful line at the end. :( poor domino, too- but bunnies sometimes chew on their cage to keep their teeth from growing too long.
hope4 replied...
Mar. 8, 2011 at 10:27 am
this  is amazin...nice work
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