Prisoner of my past.

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



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.


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.


Rodrigo Juatco
17:02 Aug 04, 2021

Interesting story. You have a unique way of spinning a tale. Enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing your story.


Show 0 replies
Felix Thorne
21:31 Jan 05, 2021

It was really well written! :) I enjoyed reading it a lot and I loved the lesson at the end, we need to learn to accept all moments from the past, both good and bad, and learn from them. The nature lesson really helped readers understand that too :) You do have a few slip ups in tenses through out the flashback but Juliet Martin already brought that one up :) The only other big thing I would say is that you have a few typos or missing letters near the end, and the way some sentences are written are a bit awkward to read and fully understand-...


Felix Thorne
21:32 Jan 05, 2021

Just saying- English isn't my native language so some things that I said might not be correct but just check to make sure? :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
. .
08:11 Aug 31, 2020

I really loved how the whole story flowed and the descriptions were on point!


Show 0 replies
Deborah Angevin
09:58 Aug 17, 2020

This story is very real. I liked the last passage; it delivers the message. Great job, Djenat! P.S: would you mind checking my recent story out, "Grey Clouds"? Thank you :D


Show 0 replies
Genevieve Taylor
02:43 Aug 09, 2020

Wow this was a great story! A beautiful portrayal of guilt and grief. This was well written from beginning to end; you didn't fade out with a forgettable ending, and you started with an attention-grabbing first line. This was incredible. Wonderful job! Stay safe and keep writing, -Vieve P.S. If you're free, would you be willing to check out any of my stories and give feedback? If not, no problem. Thanks, and again, great story!


Show 0 replies
D.N Pendragon
05:59 Jul 31, 2020

"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." Beautiful sentence. Given the protagonist's love for fishing, I imagine he has a strong connection to nature, which his mother recognizes and uses to comfort him. Love small details like that, which make characters feel real!


Show 0 replies
Arvi Krish
05:02 Jul 31, 2020

Very nice story Djenat. Very touching too. Nice work!


Show 0 replies

Very well written story. I like where you went with this. Well done.


Show 0 replies
02:53 Jul 27, 2020

You speak better English than I do and it is my native language. Lol. Beautiful story


Djenat Remmache
11:39 Jul 27, 2020

Thanks! It means a lot.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.