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I know something that I wish I didn’t.

This knowledge came to me in the form of a confession. But I call it panic-stricken sharing.

The person who gave me this information is someone close to me.

No longer a child but still far from being a ‘responsible’ adult.

There was an accident. A young man lost his life. He drowned. He could have been saved.

But his companions thought he was joking. And they stood and laughed as he flailed and splashed in the dark waters of the lake.

He knew how to swim and had often played terrible pranks upon his friends before.

Sadly, his past antics killed him. ‘The boy who cried wolf’ had fared no better. But this boy’s parents wanted answers.

And so did the police.

How could an able nineteen-year-old boy simply drown? There had to be foul play.

What was he doing out alone on a freezing night in November? Teenagers moved in groups.

The first question was answered when the autopsy report revealed an elevated blood alcohol level.

The second question became even more critical. It had to be answered.

Friends, enemies, acquaintances were summoned. Each had a different story to tell. None gave the police the lead they were looking for.

That made them even more defiant. They wouldn’t rest till they found someone they could blame.

A crime of foolishness had been committed. On the part of the victim and those who unknowingly watched him sink into his watery grave.

Could that amount to murder? Or maybe abetment to murder?

I don’t know. I’ve never dealt with something like this. I cry myself to sleep.

Today, it’s my turn to be questioned.

A young life was lost. Several more could be at risk.

Loss has no justification.

The truth could solve this grim picture, offer the bereaved parents some closure.

A lie could keep the others safe, their precious lives intact.

Tell me.

What would you do if you were in my place?

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48 Comments on “What Would You Do – Flash Fiction Story

    • An interesting one.
      A little twist in truth never hurt anyone.
      But would it work?
      Thanks for answering this hypothetical question. 🙂

  1. Raises the interesting question: Are you complicit in murder if you stand idly by and let a person die without attempting to save them?

    The real problem with the knowledge that someone died and you had the ability to save them but chose not to (whether they were a tosspot, or not) is the guilt you carry with you from that moment on and the sad reality is that there’s no statute of limitation on self-imposed pain.

    Justify it any way you like, tamp it down and try to forget, but sooner or later it will come back to haunt you and will change you in the eyes of anyone you “over-share” the truth with.

    An interesting matter to ponder.

    • This is definitely a sensitive point you’ve touched, Rhyan. The guilt of knowing that if action had been taken, a life could have been saved. Many times this thought will haunt and taunt, elevating the guilt, bruising the heart. The one who is no more has passed on. The ones who know and remain behind die a little every day.
      Thanks for this emotional and significant viewpoint. 🙂

    • Great story, Terveen! What will they do? It’s so rude not to keep your confessions to yourself. Just assuming someone won’t have a conscious. I think I would lie for sure in hope that the drowned kid would come back from the grave for revenge like Jason Voorhees. Something to spice up a boring Monday.

      • “It’s so rude not to keep your confessions to yourself. Just assuming someone won’t have a conscious.”
        I love this! Lol.
        Exactly. Please keep your dirty secrets to yourself. I have enough to deal with.
        And Jason – so creepy….
        Thanks Tony. You made my Sunday a bit brighter.

  2. That’s a tricky spot. Even I don’t know what to do. I would phone a lawyer first to tell me exactly what to do. Is that suspicious? I don’t know. Maybe that will make me the first suspect.

  3. If your hypothetical “place” were real, you and I would know a lot more than your outline could ever provide. Hypotheticals are fun to answer but the answers do not necessarily reflect what the responder would actually do. I answer that I would hypothetically just tell the truth as I know it. But all the characters are not real to me. They are hypothetical. No one actually died. No one is actually grieving. And no one is going to jail no matter what I answer.

    • Haha! A straightforward and practical answer. I think the truth could be the only way to save oneself from sinking deeper into trouble. One lie takes many lies to support it.
      Thank you, Geoff. 🙂

  4. ‘I know something that I wish I didn’t’ – what a way to start a story. There’s no easy answer to that one. Life’s full of grey areas. Being a secret keeper is not hard to bear. Great story, full of questions. Another one of your pieces that will stick with the reader for a long time.

    • Thank you so much, Britta. I think it depends on the person, the secret involved, and the consequences. Sometimes the truth can liberate. Sometimes a lie can mitigate. Sometimes both are hopeless. 🙂

  5. “Loss has no justification.”
    What a great line. Great story and honestly I don’t know what I would do. You certainly pulled me in with this story as I can just imagine something like this actually happening today without a single person feeling badly. I was always about the truth when I was young. It really makes you think about how many kids have died from no response from jealous, angry or just mean teenagers. Great read. ❤️🤗

    • Thank you so much, Joni.
      This is a dilemma I wish no one really has to face. Some people have no conscience at all and some can’t live even with a slight amount of guilt. I think telling things as they are would be the right thing. Lies usually don’t go too far. I appreciate your viewpoint on this. 🙂

  6. For me, the main point is “crying wolf” can get anyone killed or badly injured. If someone cries wolf too many times, what’s an onlooker to do? We are taught as children the hazards of this foolish game. Still, it is a sad scenario what happened. I am sorry.

    • I’m glad you pointed out this potential hazard. How many times is too many times and what could be the sad consequences? I think tricks and pranks are often the cause for many tragedies. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it. 🙂

  7. Wow, you really make me think. Yes, in this case, there’s no easy solutions. Every way is a painful way. If this is the case, we might as well be honest, and tell the truth. This is very hard to do if someone I love is involved.

    • I know, Haoyan. This is a troublesome situation. It would drive me crazy. Fearing for the safety of a loved one but also devastated by the loss of another’s life. Hopefully the truth would take care of both sides.
      Thank you so much! 🙂

  8. I’d wish I didn’t hear that confession in the first place. Sleep had been murdered until the truth is let out somehow. It’s hard not to hold on to secrecy considering the risks involved. But the truth always finds it’s way somehow so why lue for momentary escape? And when it comes to death and having knowledge of the truth, lying keeps complicates issues. It might lead to suicide. With this in mind, although it’d be harder with a teenage group in my hands, but I’d tell what I know even though it’d implicate a group of teenagers. If they had a good lawyer, they might get mercy at last since it wasn’t a purposeful or planned crime. It’s an accident, born out of a stupid prank or teenagers’ ugly play.

    • You’re so right. The truth usually does find its way out. And it’s best to minimize the risk factor by laying one’s cards out on the table. It’s even tougher to keep a secret when there are several people involved. Yes, pranks and foolish games can be the most dangerous. But who can explain that to headstrong teenagers? Thank you so much for your thoughtful and meaningful comment. I wish I knew who you are. 🙂

  9. Such a great story, Terveen. Definitely makes one think. And that’s what I love about your posts! ❤️

  10. A tragic consequence. It will be hard to live with oneself knowing you watched a friend whose mindless pranks and jokes killed him in the end. A lesson here, Terveen. Well done!

  11. Beautiful piece of writing. I really don’t know what I would do if I was in a same situation.It is the guilt off a friend’s death either one lives with it or save oneself. Don’t know which itwould it be.

    • It is a tough choice. Something that won’t let a person live in peace. Hope no one ever has to confront this. Thank you so much. 🙂

  12. It’s a catch 22 situation. I guess I don’t know what I would have done myself 🙂
    A very sensitive tale Terveen. Good one.

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