Fragments of The Past

Submitted into Contest #51 in response to: Write a story about someone who's haunted by their past.... view prompt

102 comments

Mystery Sad Fiction

They come to me in snippets. Every moment of that day, of that incident, flashes behind the lids of my closed eyes. I plaster a smile on my face in the hopes that my darling sister is always reassured that my battle to stay in the here and now was won many years ago.


I am fine. I have no more panic attacks; no more random moments of panic where nothing but pure fear of the past seeping into the future consumes me. The flashbacks stopped as soon as I stopped seeing my therapist years ago, I swear.


All of these unspoken words are communicated to a sister I would protect with my life, an aunt who worries about me, and a mother who doesn’t want to believe that her ongoing relationship with the man that caused all that trouble years ago is the reason behind any trauma I may--or “hopefully” may not--have experienced.


The memory of the events of that hour come to me in snippets. They’ve overshadowed my happiest moments for the past five years. Dinners with my family are always filled with laughter. When asked to grab another spoon for any guests who happen to join us, I opened a drawer and found a piece of the past I can’t seem to shake. My hand lingers on the handle of the drawer as my eyes gloss over the curved edges of the only spoon that doesn’t belong with the others. Smells of my comfort food are replaced with a damp, musky scent that used to permeate his whole house. Voices raised in their aggression ring in my ears. And then the images come in rapid succession: the meals I ate with the spoons in his house when we were merely happy visitors; the meals I ate with those same spoons when my mom, my sister and I moved in a year later; the spoon I used to eat my last meal in that house fifteen minutes before the incident.


The memories surrounding the incident are just as vivid as they were five years ago. One could almost believe that they’d happened yesterday. Every year without fail, an entire motion picture of snippets flood my brain on the 4th of February. Regardless of how distracted I am, I can still feel the ghost of a cool metal car door against my fingertips. I can see myself squeezing the last of my clothes into the already overflowing back of the car. I follow my sister’s gaze to the closed front door, where three inquisitive huskies stare unblinking through the glass, their tails deadly still. I exhale a shaky breath into the cold morning air, which fogs up immediately. I tell my sister not to worry; that I’ll go fetch mom and we can leave. I tell her not to follow me. My exposed shin brushes against the soft fur of my favourite for what I’d soon discover to be the last time before I take in what the husky sees through the glass. My hand immediately grasps the doorknob and I barge in without a second thought.


After five years, the memory of the aftermath is still more vivid than the incident itself. Snippets of comforting a crying sister in an empty classroom follow me on a daily basis. I can’t seem to shake the feeling of a strong resolve. I didn’t shed a single tear. Snippets of my first lesson of the day: sitting behind my desk in English, pretending the cracks in my heart weren’t spreading with every passing minute, worrying for my family without a thought for myself, receiving a message from my mother and immediately going into defence mode.


My heart is broken, Anna.

Mom, it’s okay. We’re gonna be okay. None of this is your fault. You were blinded by love. That isn’t a crime.


I shouldn’t have said that. I really shouldn’t have said that.


You just need to get through the day and we’ll be with you after 12. You aren’t alone mom. This isn’t like the divorce with dad. You have us this time. We aren’t little anymore. We can help you through it this time.

I’m worried about you, Anna.

About me?

You shouldn’t have to go through what you went through this morning.

You don’t have to worry about me.


I shouldn’t have said that. I really shouldn’t have said that. Because that was the moment when all of this started. That was the moment I’d chosen to take on a responsibility that I can’t afford to shake off; that I no longer want to shake off. Maybe if I’d let her be a mom, if I hadn’t told her not to worry about me and that flying blind in love isn’t a crime, I wouldn’t have had to suffer the consequences. She wouldn’t have announced her decision to rekindle the scattered ashes of a failed relationship with the man who forged the trauma contained in my daily snippets.


The aftermath is more vivid than the incident because I am still living through it. Five years have passed, but not a day goes by without me being reminded of that day. Every Saturday sees a mother leaving at six in the evening for an overnight stay at the house full of history and the man of my nightmares. Every Saturday sees a mother being hugged and sent off by one daughter while the other stays locked in her room to secretly regain control of her shaking body and lungs that refuse to let her breathe. While the mother can be seen having fun dates on Sundays, I wait anxiously by the phone with family emergency contacts and the police on speed dial in case history develops the sudden urge to repeat itself.


As for the incident itself, it only lasted ten minutes. Ten minutes were all it took to traumatise me past the point of psychological recovery. Ten minutes have been playing on repeat in my mind for the past five years. I fake a smile and hide behind a shield of humour to hide the fact that I’m stuck in the February of five years ago. I watch as my sister grows into the beautiful young adolescent she was destined to become. I gladly shoulder every burden and protect her from every danger as she does. As long as she remains unaffected and minimally tainted by what happened, I don’t mind not being able to change no matter how much I want to move on.


Besides, there’s only so much you can do to move on. There’s only so much therapy can do for me when the man whose acts of aggression made me like this still has his presence anchored into an aspect of my life: my fool of a mother who is so blinded by love that she will always see my smile and never the anguish hidden in my eyes.


The date today is 4 February 2020. The face of my watch currently reads 06: 05. Like clockwork, the memory of the next ten minutes from years ago comes to me in its usual, fragmented snippets:


The two of us waiting for mom to drop us off at school.


Mom coming into the lounge with the news that Marcus is kicking us out again and to quickly pack our stuff.


Lauren muttering that this isn’t the first time and won’t be the last.


The three of us packing the car.


Marcus watching us pack with an irritated expression.


Marcus snapping at mom to stop pouting and playing the victim; to just take her brats and leave.


The two of them disappearing into the house for a long time.


Lauren pointing out that something is wrong because of the usually hyper dogs being so still and focused.


Telling her to stay where she is while I go and fetch our mom.


Seeing his aggression through the glass door.


Rushing into the house and pushing him away from my mother.


Him channelling the full extent of his rage towards me.


Vulgar words spilling from his mouth as he towers over me.


My sister crying in the doorway for him to leave me alone just as his hands wrap around my throat.


My mom shattering an empty vase over his head to get him to release his tightening grip around my neck.


And the three of us hastily driving as far away from Marcus as possible with our mom’s false promises of protection and a better future.


Knowing that nothing would ever be the same again.






July 25, 2020 01:08

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102 comments

Alexi Delavigne
19:03 Jul 25, 2020

You did a great job with this story, from the formatting to the actual content. And it’s true, even something as simple as seeing a spoon can bring up painful memories of the past. Great work!

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Jade Young
22:55 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you Alexi❤ I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

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Kelechi Nwokoma
14:06 Jul 25, 2020

This is so heartfelt. I love how everything brought back 'snippets of the lady's for the main character. It truly brought about the haunted feel. And I especially like that the past event was revealed at the end. The suspense kept pushing me to read the story. This is incredible and beautiful— great job!

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Jade Young
16:13 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you Kelechi! I'm really glad you liked it❤

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Neela Sanders
13:06 Jul 25, 2020

this story is so emotional, but so good that on a level anyone can grasp the concept of sadness which is a theme throughout. I really liked this as a read and thought that this was really well done and will always look for your stories in the future. You are an amazing author, never stop writing! ❤️

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Jade Young
22:57 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you Neela❤ as always, your comment made my day! Just like how you'll be looking forward to my future stories, I can't wait to hear more from you in future ;D

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Nancy Drayce
10:05 Jul 25, 2020

So sad, but yet so powerful, truly amazing!! ♥

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Jade Young
10:07 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you Nancy :D

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Juliet Martin
09:06 Jul 25, 2020

Wow, a very powerful story! I love your first sentence, it really draws the reader in and sets up how the story is going to be told through flashbacks - especially the final scene which you describe in brief, nominal sentences - really clever and a nice tie-in between the beginning and end. I think you do really well at creating suspense- I especially love the omen of the Huskies standing still, I think that was really effective! Something you might want to think about is being more indirect/subtle with some of the narrator's feelings e.g. y...

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Jade Young
09:37 Jul 25, 2020

Wow, thank you so much for such a detailed response :D I'm really glad you liked my story. I'm even more appreciative of your constructive feedback on my implications. I will definitely work on my showing rather than telling in my future short stories. Thank you once again for reading and enjoying my story :D

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08:41 Jul 25, 2020

Nice story, Jade.

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Jade Young
08:43 Jul 25, 2020

Thank you!

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Sam S.
16:24 Aug 08, 2020

Hey Jade! This story was amazing, more like realistic. I love sad stories (not because I'm a negative person), but because it makes me feel how small my problems are. And it really felt like, (idk how to say this but yeah) very realistic like the author (that's you) completely knew what you was writing and seemed so very real to me. This story was awesome, and I really don't care about grammatical errors, or any of the sort in any story. But what I really think as critiques are if the story is not understandable but here, it's more ...

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Shruti Saxena
16:12 Aug 02, 2020

Haunting and heartbreaking, really hits in the feels... awesome work!

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Jade Young
19:52 Aug 02, 2020

Thanks Shruti :D

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Raquel Rodriguez
06:38 Aug 02, 2020

This was so sad! It feels almost natural, like you're writing about something that you've seen or something. The ending was so heartbreaking! Would you mind checking out my story?

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Jade Young
19:51 Aug 02, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm glad you were able to feel what she was going through. And if you keep Writing New stories, I will definitely begin ontwikkel the Lookout for them ;)

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Raquel Rodriguez
23:56 Aug 02, 2020

Thank you Jade! :)

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Jamie Limbaga
10:25 Jul 31, 2020

I'm always drawn towards stories related to mental health issues, and this was it. You perfectly captured how the smallest of moments can stick with you forever, and it was a really emotional read for me. Well done! If it's not too hassle, would you mind taking a look at some of my work as well? I'm open to both positive and negative feedback (as long as it's constructive) <3 thanks!

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Jade Young
11:28 Jul 31, 2020

Thank you for taking the time to read an comment! I really appreciate it, and I'm glad that you liked it :D And I'd love to take a look at some of your works🙌🏽

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D. Jaymz
01:34 Jul 31, 2020

Well-written. I liked it. Your main character swung through a range of emotions with their inner dialogue. Excellent. I was able to see a deeper character from her thoughts and actions. You portrayed a 'haunted' person eloquently.

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Jade Young
04:06 Jul 31, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm really glad you liked it, and that you could feel her emotions through my writing :)

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Charles Stucker
16:18 Jul 28, 2020

Ouch. This one is really harsh. Well done, with the emotions of the scared and scarred child open to see. You have a few places where the tense changes from past to present, but I THINK it's deliberate. Constantly reading my own stuff to spot editing errors has made me overly sensitive to that sort of thing. It would probably sail right past the conscious reading of most and leave the little subtle impact you wanted. The strength of both opening and ending combines with the smooth flow of your writing and strong voice to make this a spec...

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Jade Young
16:24 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you for reading and commenting! And yes, the change in tenses was intentional :) It's to show that the past "haunts" her, not "haunted" her; that it's a moment she lives through every day in the present instead of just experiencing it during that moment five years ago. That's how trauma works. A flashback forces you to relive the past in the present. That's what I was going for🙌🏽 I'm really glad you liked it :) And I hope you can enjoy my future pieces as much as you liked this one!

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Keerththan 😀
13:40 Jul 28, 2020

The emotions were so nicely communicated. Loved it and well written. Would you mind reading my story "The secret of power?"

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Jade Young
14:17 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. And of course I'll take a look at your story ;)

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J. Ernst
12:49 Jul 28, 2020

Very well written.

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Jade Young
13:05 Jul 28, 2020

Thank you :)

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Batool Hussain
16:24 Jul 27, 2020

Heya! Is it odd that I found your bio to be very, very amusing?

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Jade Young
16:43 Jul 27, 2020

That depends on what part of it you found amusing :P

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Batool Hussain
16:54 Jul 27, 2020

The b and d part

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Jade Young
16:57 Jul 27, 2020

It may be odd, but it's true😂

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Batool Hussain
17:04 Jul 27, 2020

Nah, I love it:)

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Jade Young
17:04 Jul 27, 2020

Haha thank you😊

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Yolanda Wu
05:28 Oct 08, 2020

Wow, the emotions in this story were so vivid, it was like I could feel all that hurt and pain. Your writing and descriptions were captivating as well as heartbreaking. The pacing was done well, and you packed so much into such a short story. The ending was intense and that last line was just so heart-wrenching. Amazing work, Jade! Also, I have a new story out, I would love to hear what you think. :)

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Lily Kingston
13:14 Sep 15, 2020

I like the tense led up to what happened in the past and the reveal at the ending when you find out how abusive Marcus was, but after it's all exposed you know things have changed forever as they would have in real life. Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Jade Young
14:11 Sep 15, 2020

Thank you for reading and commenting😁 I appreciate the feedback, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it😊

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20:02 Sep 14, 2020

I love psychological trauma as I am a budding therapist so this was a great read with insight into how trauma affects persons in their every day lives. It would have been even more gripping if the narrator, Anna, was the one who managed to do bodily harm to Marcus while protecting him from her sister. I really enjoyed the intensity of the build up! Great piece :)

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Jade Young
20:22 Sep 14, 2020

Thanks for reading and commenting :D I'm really glad you enjoyed it. If psychological trauma is your thing, then I think you'd enjoy my other story, Stories We Wish To Erase. It's not as intense as this one, but psychological trauma comes in many different forms. When you get the time, give it a read, I'd love to know your thoughts on it ;D

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John Del Rio
00:30 Sep 14, 2020

as well written as your other stories that i have read. i didn't know what he had done; just that it was awful. the knowledge that the cycle of abuse hadn't stopped; that her mother couldn't break away and that the next chapter in the story could have us seeing her and or her mother, dead. sad and incomprehensible to me because i could never be that man; and am glad that i can say that. i will continue to read your stories if you continue to write them.

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Jade Young
07:48 Sep 14, 2020

Thank you John, for reading and commenting. As always, I greatly appreciate your feedback😊 Fun fact: this is based on a true story. So since the mother is staying with him "because she loves him", I really hope the mother doesn't end up dead. For the next chapter, I hope that both of them can break the cycle of flashbacks and abuse that they're prone to, and find acceptance and healing instead; both in my story and in real life. I'm glad you enjoyed this, and that you won't become the man depicted in my story. It makes me glad that at lea...

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Andrew Krey
22:12 Sep 12, 2020

Hi Jade, I read your story and really liked it. What stood out most for me was the little touches you add, that have a massive impact. For example the use of “his house” to denote that it wasn’t her house, and not a home. I also liked the tense dogs with motionless tails...great way to characterise the tension, and her feeling of something being wrong! Great story, and I hope my feedback was useful. Happy writing.

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Jade Young
22:20 Sep 12, 2020

Hey Andrew :) Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I'm really glad you liked it :D I'm so glad you picked up on those subtle details. You perfectly identified what I was trying to get across in those little details, so your feedback makes me so happy!

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Andrew Krey
22:50 Sep 12, 2020

Yeah it was done well, something I try to add to my writing so my mind is probably conditioned to it! Lol Glad the feedback made you happy :)

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