Ghost of the Past
By Emma Kim
All I could see was red. My vision was marred by fury and bloodlust, and my hands were tainted with his crimson blood. There's fear and betrayal clouding my father’s eyes. I hear his pleas for help, for me to spare him. I grasp the blade in my hand even tighter. And then my vision turns white.
I sit up, gasping from the recurring nightmare with my whole body drenched in cold sweat. Ever since that day, I would constantly get these nightmares that forever haunt me for my dreadful mistake.
“It was the right thing to do, don’t regret it now,” I reassure myself. He would always impose strict rules on me, distancing me from the outside world. And he always tried to mold me into the person he wanted me to be. Not only was he a horrible father, but he also was an unfit ruler for the kingdom. Tyrannical and merciless, he punished those below him without second thought.
“It was the right thing to do, not just for me but for the citizens as well,” I say to myself. “Even I can be a better king for them.”
Walking outside of the room, I came upon a family portrait where my parents and I have been recorded in history. I grimace as I look at my father’s cheerful smile that he wears so casually while holding me on his lap. After Mom had passed away, he had promised to take care of me. I still remember his smile, his laugh, his familiar voice that had once been a source of comfort. A cold tear trails down the crevice of my face as all of these memories play through my mind.
I swiftly wiped away the tears, annoyed at myself for mourning my father. As I look at the portrait, his voice echoes through the halls as I block my ears, hoping to defend myself from the ringing of his voice.
My mind flashes back to the night of the murder.
I clench my fist in fury. My heart rate quickens, breath shortens as my mind uncontrollably triggers unwanted thoughts. Without a thought, I slam my fist into the canvas, ripping the painting and marking a hole in the middle. These memories and thoughts are uncontrollable, and no matter how much I try to get rid of them, they still continue to appear every second of the day.
“I will never forgive you,” my father says, as if he is whispering in my subconscious. I can vividly hear his lingering words pierce my ears. He’s here with me. I can feel his chilling presence—haunting, stalking, and tormenting me.
Consumed by rage, I command each servant to gather everything that reminds me of him. His pictures, clothes, and belongings. I throw each belonging, one by one, in the scorching fireplace, burning them in the process. Everything needs to go. While searching through each of his possessions, I find a strange letter.
Opening it, I notice that it is addressed to me. My father’s handwriting. I focus on a specific line reading: I am proud of you. You’ll soon take over and become a great king.
I re-read the letter several times, his voice echoing in my brain. He was proud of me. Reading the sentence in the familiar handwriting, the magnitude of my actions dawn over me. I heartlessly killed my own father, my own flesh and blood. The father I once adored and loved, but was too filled with jealousy to recognize. The air filled with guilt and self-condemnation suffocated me.
Minutes go by, and the only sound I can hear is that constant voice of regret in my head, the voice of wanting things to be normal again. I just want my father back.
My father’s voice is continually ringing in my ears. Images of the night flash in my mind. They will be everlasting, yet now I know my wrongdoings. I need to admit my faults instead of living, and being haunted by what I have done.
The bell rang throughout the land, signaling the day of the coronation. All the citizens are expecting me to take over- but I can’t do so. Not with the sins I’ve committed. Not with the fate my father has met. I must face my own fate.
“I killed the king. My own father.” I state loudly, letting the statement echo throughout the whole kingdom. And this time, the images, the voices of him stop echoing in my mind.