Prisoner of my past.

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

45 comments

General

Although I know that the key to happiness lies in the present moment, the past never ceases to haunt my thoughts, especially a particular day. What happened that day is my biggest regret, it should never happen this way. I am haunted by my past. I’ve spent restless nights just thinking about it and have never forgiven myself for it. Now, what could I have possibly done? I killed my father. No, I did not physically slit his throat, bash his brains out or shoot him, but my inaction led indirectly to the accident that led to his death and can't forgive myself for that.

The day of the fall incident that led to his death happened 5 years ago. That day we had a fight while we were fishing. The images keep coming back to me, and the words I said to him that day resonate in my mind like an echo.

I used to go fishing with my dad every Sunday. My brother never enjoyed fishing, thus it was just the two of us; just me and my dad. It was my favorite moment of the week.

I still carry those memories with me so close to my heart.

Flashback:

The weather is perfect for fishing. We arrive at the well-stocked lake and sit in our usual place where we always find something good to catch. Within a few minutes only, my father already catches one.

“Oh! I already caught one. It seems that today is my lucky day.”

“Well done dad! That’s a big one,” I say surprised.

He keeps a firm grip on the fish’s body, right behind its head. Then, he pulls the hook out of the fish by using needle-nose pliers. He does it without much effort contrary to me who still struggles sometimes when I catch a big one. Fishes are stronger than they seem.

We keep silent for a moment, admiring the view. My father takes a gulp of his brandy and clears his throat which breaks the silence.

“You’ll soon be going to college, you must get a part-time job,” he says without looking at me.

“A part-time job?” I repeat. My jaw drops.

“Yes, you heard me. You are not a child anymore, you need to be more independent,” he insists.

“How can I focus on my studies and have good grades if I spend my free time working instead of studying?”

“Everyone works while going to college. It is not a big deal! It seems like you lack motivation, son.”

I blow out a puff of air. I can feel my temper rising.

“You know that’s not true, I always work hard to achieve my goals. You know that my studies are very important to me but YOU are discouraging me right now. And that is not what a FATHER should do to his SON!” I hiss through clenched teeth.

He does not protest back, instead, he snatches his bottle of brandy and drinks the rest of its contents in one gulp.

He stands up and tries to steady himself but he falls. His head hits the rock hard. Blood is everywhere.

“ Oh my God! Dad !” I yell and rush to him. My heart is beating fast and my hands are shaking. “Do you hear me, Dad ?”


My father over indulged in brandy, and as a result, he fell and suffered a hemorrhage on the brain. I knew his state of mind that Sunday afternoon, and even though I knew he was knocking the alcohol back quite heavily, I did nothing until it was too late. He spent two months in the Intensive Care Unit at a local private hospital. After that, his personality changed drastically. The man that came home was not the man with whom I had enjoyed many fishing trips and sports events with over the nineteen years I had been his son up to that point.

His accident indirectly contributed to his chronic medication, then the imbalance led to the heart attack that finally ended his life months later.

I wish I could go back. What would I have done differently?

If you send me back to that Sunday, I would not have let him drink as much as he did, even if it meant consuming all of it myself. And I would surely not say those horrible words to him. Maybe if I did things differently, he would still be alive. If only I knew…

Since that day, I haven’t drunk a single drop of alcohol and I spend all my time working. Work has been my way of grieving instead of alcohol as most people. It would not feel right to drink since alcohol is the reason for his death.

As every year since my father died, my family and I gather for his Death Anniversary. Actually, I hate calling it that way; I prefer Commemoration day.

We visit his grave and the place where we scattered his ashes. We light candles and each one of us says a few words about Dad. After three years, this day is still not easier for me.

Their eyes are steady on me. They are waiting for me to say a few words but I completely freeze, no sound comes out of my mouth. I drop my eyes to the floor. Thickness seems to form in the air around me. It’s suddenly difficult to take in a full breath because, for whatever reason, I feel like I need to cry. I can’t say anything and tears fill my eyes and spill over, falling down my cheeks. I haven’t cried since that tragic day. And now I can’t stop my tears from falling. What is happening to me?

My mother steps closer to me and hugs me as she never did. “Oh, Sweetheart! You have been holding back your emotions for so long. Yes, cry. Don’t hold them anymore, you will feel better. I promise.” she says with a soft voice.

She grabs my hands and holds them while I cry.

“It’s… my fault,” I sniff.

“None of this is your fault, it was an accident. You understand?” she says running her hand down my back.

“Always reliving the past and all its range of emotions no longer bring you anything. On the contrary, it hurts you.”

After several minutes, I calm down, I close my eyes briefly and inhale a steadying breath before quietly exhaling. I swallow the lump in my throat and finally utter a sentence without stuttering. “I wanna forget what happened, but I can’t Mom!“ I know that the pain in my voice ripples through her.

“That’s the problem. You don’t need to forget anything. You need to accept what happened and learn from it. It is time to move on. It is time to build your life as you want it to be, to give it flavor and the colors you want it to have. Be as a tree that blooms then it loses its leaves and finds himself bare until the next season. And it starts again following the natural cycle. Nature doesn’t hold on to the past. Do the same.”

As I listen to her attentively, I can't help myself but chew nervously my bottom lip as more tears spill down my face.

My mom is right, she always tells me what I need to hear. Now, I know that what I need to do is to accept my past and not forget it. What is done is done, I can’t change the past. Sorrow and regret won’t return my father. I’ve to accept good memories as well as bad ones as part of myself. Every fact, every thought and every feeling experienced has had a series of consequences in my life. My past makes me who I am today. Everyone past makes them who they actually are. That is life.

I cried so much that I feel better now. I’ve been a prisoner of my past for so long without really trying to free myself. To be honest, I did not want to be free; I felt responsible for his death and thought I did not deserve to be happy. I was kind of punishing myself. But is it what my father would have wished for me? To be unhappy? Of course not.

Now, I have to move on.

Whatever mistakes we have done in our past, it is okay. We all make mistakes to learn from them and become who we are today. If we erase the mistakes of our past, we would erase the wisdom of our present.

July 23, 2020 19:44

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

45 comments

Cece Lin
23:29 Jul 23, 2020

This was very frank, very real. I gravitate to a more obscure writing style, so it's really refreshing reading something like this. I liked it. :)

Reply

Djenat Remmache
23:42 Jul 23, 2020

Glad you enjoyed it. ^^

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Juliet Martin
22:37 Jul 23, 2020

Nice story, an interesting premise and very clear treatment of regret! There are a couple of times when you switch between past and present tense e.g. 'my father TOOK a gulp of his brandy' but this doesn't detract from the story! I would say that you describe the author's feelings very directly - it could be more subtle to show these things rather than tell them, for example instead of saying 'I am haunted by my past' you could just infer it by mentioning nightmares or other symptoms of regret. This of course is up to you as the author but i...

Reply

Djenat Remmache
23:41 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you for reading my story and for your feedback, it's very helpful!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Djenat Remmache
20:10 Jul 23, 2020

Hello everybody, if you like the story give it a like, please. You are more than welcome to tell me any suggestions. I need feedback to improve my writing skills. English is not my native language. Thus, if you find grammatical mistakes ( and I am sure you will), point them out. :) Thank you for reading my story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
10:34 Jul 25, 2020

This is a touching story. There is an important message about self-forgiveness and improving your life by moving forward. Keep reading and writing!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Christopher G
18:20 Jul 24, 2020

Wow, really well-written! Such a tragic and raw story. Usually, I find the use of flashbacks gauche, but the manner in which it is utilized here is tactful and truly brings an aesthetic to the overall plot of the story. Good job!

Reply

Show 0 replies
18:19 Jul 24, 2020

Great title! The story itself got a little long-winded, but it had a good message (especially that last line). Just a suggestion for integrating the flashback--most of the time it isn't necessary to put 'beginning of flashback' or 'end of flashback' to signal that the flashback is happening. Italics alone will often do just fine

Reply

Show 0 replies
San T.
18:18 Jul 24, 2020

Nice and emotional story.. I just have one question, the incident happened five years or three years back? Or may be I just got confused in the middle... Very good job actually.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Kelechi Nwokoma
15:34 Jul 24, 2020

This is a really great story. I love that the memory that haunted him was his father's death. The memory I wrote in my story, 'Next in Line' is about death, too. Could you please check it out and give me feedback whenever you're free? Once again, greet story. I look forward to reading more from you.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Abigail Slimzy
15:02 Jul 24, 2020

Wow! The title is so catchy! Nice work.

Reply

Show 0 replies
PAMELA ABWAO
04:59 Jul 24, 2020

A story with a strong message You have taught me to Let go You've narrated a real haunting experience Good job

Reply

Djenat Remmache
09:44 Jul 24, 2020

Thank you, Pamela!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
01:40 Jul 24, 2020

English is not my native language as well, but I have managed to gain a fair grip over it. Tense needs some recheck. Also, you mention both grave as well as scattered ashes. Grave denotes a burial and scattered ashes denote a cremation. -- it's either burial or cremation and can't be both. The story has a good narrative. Overall, the storyline is emotional. Just that it could've been played with and expressed better. I liked your story :) Goodluck and cheers! ✌️✌️✌️

Reply

Show 0 replies
Jen Park
00:45 Jul 24, 2020

Oh, no. Do you think it's funny to make me cry? Just kidding, of course! As a person who actually experienced loving one's death, I could understand the protagonist's emotions by heart. It was actually painful to continue from the middle of the story. (Which means that you did it splendidly!) The only mistake I find here is: you need to be more independent,” he insisted. Should be changed to: you need to be more independent,” he insists. I could feel my temper rising. Should be: I can feel my temper rising. ...

Reply

Djenat Remmache
09:50 Jul 24, 2020

Thank you for pointing these mistakes out. I am so happy you enjoyed my story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lynn Penny
00:27 Jul 24, 2020

This was a great piece! The emotion was strong and the ending had a great impact. I loved the flashback, it fit very nicely.

Reply

Djenat Remmache
09:54 Jul 24, 2020

Thanks! You made my day. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Djenat Remmache
09:54 Jul 24, 2020

Thanks! You made my day. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Maya Reynolds
00:14 Jul 24, 2020

Great story! My favorite part was the last paragraph, especially the last sentence: "If we erase the mistakes of our past, we would erase the wisdom of our present." I also really like the title and the joy at the end when he finally breaks free of his prison. Keep up the good work!

Reply

Djenat Remmache
09:55 Jul 24, 2020

Thank you, Maya! It is very encouraging.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Charles Stucker
00:01 Jul 24, 2020

Your telling is strong, but you have a few places where edits would improve it. Minor things like checking you are using contractions appropriately (one of the hardest things in English) or run on sentences (mostly when characters are talking. Like “That’s the problem, you don’t need to forget anything, you need to accept what happened and learn from it. It is time to move on, it is time to build your life as you want it to be, to give it flavor and the colors that you want it to have." Change some of the commas to periods, like this, "That...

Reply

Djenat Remmache
09:56 Jul 24, 2020

Thanks a lot for your constructive feedback. It's very helpful! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Jubilee Forbess
23:06 Jul 23, 2020

Hey there! I’m Rhondalise. Thank you for reading my story, Djenat. I liked this story; it read a bit like an essay. Was this intentional? If it was, great! If not, that’s something you may want to note when writing other stories. 🌸

Reply

Djenat Remmache
23:16 Jul 23, 2020

To be honest, that was not intentional. I used to write a lot of essays, maybe that is why you felt that way. That is something I will pay attention to in my future stories. Thank you for your feedback.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Djenat Remmache
23:16 Jul 23, 2020

If you liked the story, give it a like. Please ^^

Reply

Jubilee Forbess
23:23 Jul 23, 2020

I did. I liked both your stories and I commented on this one. No worries about it sounding like an essay, I've been editing a lot this week so that could be why I read it more as essay.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Alexi Delavigne
22:32 Jul 23, 2020

Wow such a great story! I love love love that last line in particular. It was so powerful. I’ll just say, I think when you transitioned into the flashback, personally I don’t think you need to explicitly say “flashback” or “end of flashback.” I understand wanting it to be a clear as possible, but I think it was clear without that, and would read smoother without it as well. But that’s just my opinion, They you did it was fine it’s just something to think about. It’s a fantastic story :)

Reply

Djenat Remmache
23:40 Jul 23, 2020

Thanks a lot !

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
22:14 Jul 23, 2020

Hey, thank you for the peek into your deepest chasms of reflections. It is a sad but valuable piece about missed opportunities. Don't beat yourself too much about your English proficiency; read lots of short stories, and especially the classics. They are a gem when it comes to building up your vocabulary. I too, was not born into the English language. It is the third, after my mother tongue, (Kikuyu) then our national language (Kiswahili). I hope I've helped you, and keep writing.

Reply

Djenat Remmache
22:17 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you so much for your advice and your feedback. I really appreciate

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Nancy Drayce
20:50 Jul 23, 2020

Such a sweet and at the same time sad story. I loved it, great job! 💜✨ Just one thing I have noticed. "I already catch one." I think it should be 'caught' (English is not my native language either, so maybe I am wrong, but check it just to make sure)

Reply

Djenat Remmache
20:54 Jul 23, 2020

Oh yeah, it is indeed " caught". Thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rodrigo Juatco
10:21 Aug 05, 2021

Moving is a word I would use to describe this story. Very well written. 2 instances stand out in my mind: 1) be as a tree that blooms then loses its leaves and finds itself bare until the next season; 2) if we erase the mistakes of our past, we erase the wisdom of the present. Very poignant. Thank you for sharing your story.

Reply

Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.