The letter I wish I’d written

To the man who changed my life,

I was 16 when I watched you take the life of a man in, what I later found out, was a drunken accident.  Do you think about him now you are free from prison? I do.  I think about it every time I am walking the streets at night, every time I jump at an unknown sound and in the fear I feel almost every day of my life.  I don’t trust men now, even in my own family, as you proved that appearances truly can be deceiving.

There was nothing strange about your appearance as you first passed by me.  If that was the only time we had met, I probably wouldn’t have remembered what you looked like the next day.  As I walked into the restaurant to get the last round of hot drinks for my family before visiting times ended, you were unstable on your feet but seemed to be discussing food with the chef quite politely.  It was when he tried to help you that you turned violent.

He was simply carrying your tray to the till so you could pay.  He was being a good Samaritan, trying to help someone who didn’t deserve it.  A good deed that shouldn’t have been received with anything but gratitude, instead you punched him in the face after verbally abusing him.  The security guard you killed wasn’t simply doing his job.  He didn’t even work there.

Are you living comfortably now? Maybe happy with a family? He had a family you know.  He was visiting his daughter as he had just become a granddad.  It was meant to be a day of celebration for him and his family.  A day to remember and it is, for all the wrong reasons.

As you fled the scene, did you think about him lying on the floor? As I ran through the hospital to get a doctor, I couldn’t think of anything else, the image of his lips turning blue during the seizure has stayed with me all my life.

You served just 4 years for manslaughter due to ‘diminished responsibility’.  How is drinking to the point you are violent diminished responsibility? I will never understand how you can live your life, knowing you took his.  The implications of that day will haunt those involved forever; the court cases, the emotions, the childhood you stole can never be returned.  I grew up instantly as I took my place on the witness stand and, for that, I will resent you forever.

This isn’t a letter to berate you for what you did; I hope that the thought of what you did plagues your daily life, but rather a thank you.  That night changed my life.  Whilst some of the changes were unwelcome, some of them weren’t.  Due to an ill titled article in my local newspaper, I decided to become a journalist.  I worked hard to succeed at university, write creatively in my spare time, and use my fear of the familiar to inspire my work.

I won’t tell my children about you.  I’m sure his grandchildren were told all about you.  The reason they will never see their granddad or celebrate family milestones with him present.  I hope you have told your family too.  Warned them of the dangers drinking holds, the implications that one night can have on the rest of your life, and encourage them to not make the same mistakes.

I am now 25, 10 years have passed, and I have decided to forgive you. By staying angry, you and your actions will always be remembered. Why should I remember the person you are and not the bravery of the security guard who died that night? I am moving on and beating a different fear daily. You may have taken his life that night, but I won’t let you take mine.

No longer bound,




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