What Words Cannot Describe

I opened the door and the cool air whisked past me. I wasn’t expecting it, and gasped under my breath, or so I thought. Several people in the room turned around…including him.

The room itself was intimidating. The tables, the seriousness of it all, the bailiff watching everybody’s every move. It was stark and cold. It was sad; not hopeful. No matter what the outcome was, I would be the loser.

My son had been gone for over a year. His smile and laughter, things I thought I would never forget, faded away a little more every day. His scent, the way he scrunched his lips to one side when he tried to make a decision, the way he said “I love you, Mommy ” Gone forever.

He turned around and stared at me. Recognition instantly flashed across his face. He looked me up and down, raised an eyebrow, and nodded his head up, as if to say “Hey, what’s up?”. 

I was sickened. My stomach fell to the floor, and I felt like I might throw up. But I did not. I showed strength and no fear. I had to be strong for my boy.

The verdict had been read just hours before. Guilty. Now sentencing. My turn to stand up and give my Victim Impact Statement. But what did I say?

How could I describe with words what was been stolen from me? How could I possibly make people understand that my heart – my soul – was taken right out of me.

That I woke up at night not being able to breathe and not knowing where I was. My husband left. I couldn’t get out of bed most mornings.

I still looked for him everywhere I went, even though I know he wouldn’t be there. I couldn’t cry anymore. That I did nothing but cry. That I cut myself to try to feel something, but there was nothing there.

I was hollow.

How could I describe the feeling of watching little boys that were playing, learning, fighting, screaming…being little boys…and how it angered me more than anything else?

That this WAS.NOT.FAIR. and that MY.LITTLE.BOY.DIDN’T.DESERVE any of this.

That I only could hear his voice screaming “Mommy” in fear instead of remembering it being spoken with love? That I couldn’t get the terror and pain and suffering out of my head. Tears streaming down his face while he prayed for me. Or the thought of what he must have been thinking while having a piece of rope tied around his neck?

I would never see him graduate high school or college, never hug him the first time his heart was broken, or hug him when he found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. I would never hold a grandchild or be called grandma. I wouldn’t be there to watch him struggle through life and learn from his mistakes and experiences.

How do I describe the guilt that I wore like a crown of thorns?

I couldn’t.

I could not describe the devastation and darkness that has become my life. I could not make people understand the depth of my loss. I walked towards the podium, searching for the words.

Con-crit (constructive criticism) appreciated! Please feel free to leave any suggestions you think will help me improve my writing!

This post was written for the red writing hood at the red dress club. The prompt:  Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to give it back? Or will you give up?

This post is fiction, and was a follow up to another red writing hood prompt I wrote called “Darkness“. As I wrote the this post, I cried…that’s never happened to me before. I hope to NEVER experience anything like this. EVER.


  1. Wow. I too never want to experience this. I was actually scared reading it. I am so impressed that you try fiction. I am so afraid of it. But as for this piece...You drew me in and held me there. I feel for your character and want to help. Great job!
  2. Amazing.
  3. oh, Natalie, your other piece came screaming back at me about three lines into this, and I almost stopped reading. Given the fact that your subject matter is one a lot of moms can't even allow into their conscious thought, I'm impressed. I think you could drop the last two paragraphs, everything after "crown of thorns." You've made her feelings so achingly clear that you have put words to it, but more importantly, you've done such a good job getting into her head that we already know that about her. Tough stuff, well done.
  4. Great fiction is written so well that the reader often wonders if it's real. You captured that in this piece. Loved it...even though it ached my soul to read it.
  5. I think you should put your this is fiction disclaimers at the top. I always find myself reading, my mouth starting to drop open, tears stinging my eyes, feeling the words as I read them. Then I'm so relieved for you when I get to the bottom and find that it wasn't real (for you - even though it is for others) You're good! And also, I hope to never experience this kind of pain either. I wish no mother ever had to know this kind of pain.
  6. Wow...that's all I can say.
  7. I don't think I could even write a post like this because I don't even want to *think* about what it would be like.
  8. what a chilling response. well written, dramatic, relatable in a way that i would feel if it happened to me. i went and read the Darkness post as well, for more context. You have a dgift for storytelling!!
  9. That pain is unimaginable, but you imagined it, and it's no wonder that you cried. I have tears just reading it, because oh that is a nightmare I try to stop my brain from even thinking about. If I can offer any suggestions at all, I think it may have had more impact to say "That I am hollow." It's just a little thing, but I think it might keep the rhythm of the piece, since you are answering the question with a series of "that" statments. Really, really excellent. My heart breaks for her. And I want to punch that, "hey what's up?" look right into his face.
  10. oh my goodness, this today, just cut me right in half. OMG, but what words you gave us, what emotion. I was standing in the courtroom, feeling all that hate and anguish and loss. it was fantastic, well written and so so sad.
  11. Wow. Seriously, wow. I found myself leaning so close to the computer screen until the very end, not even realizing I was clinging to every word written. You've tapped into the fear and horror that every parent prays never happens to them...and you captured those emotions so brilliantly. I found myself in tears, as well.
  12. Oh, dead kids, dead kids, I am not strong enough for dead kids.
  13. Oh my, Natalie. This was SO powerful! I didn't even have to go back and read the other piece...I vividly remembered it with this piece. I know why you cried. How could you not? I cried reading it. It's so close to home. This piece right here is why I rarely watch Law and Order anymore. I can't watch things about children getting hurt/murdered. You took my breath away with this.
  14. I suck at concrit. B/c I really just want to read people's stories instead. So, I'll tell you that I got goosebumps reading this.
  15. I'm absolutely ruined for the day - very glad to hear that this is a piece of fiction, but damn, I simply couldn't stop from thinking "what if the same happened to my son," and now I'm at work and I can't go home to hug him... Damn.
  16. This was so intense. I struggled getting through it. Not because it wasn't well written--it was perfect. But because the subject matter is so heartbreaking. I'm not contemplating breaking the golden rule--waking up a toddler from naptime--just for a hug. Stopping by from TRDC.
  17. The original piece is seared into my soul, because I didn't know it was fiction until I finished reading it. So chilling. And this? I don't even want to imagine. I can only guess that the image of a crown of thorns is a good one.
  18. As a mom, I hate that there are people in the world who cause this kind of pain and suffering. I recently had jury duty and the man on trial had committed a similar crime. I begged to be excused, and thankfully I was. This was painful to read, but your writing is exceptional-you were right on target capturing the emotion this woman felt. Great job!
  19. Sadly, this fictional piece is also reality that some parents (and witnesses) have to deal with. Comment made in honor and memory of Justin & Andrew Milkin.
  20. First, I love the look of your new site! It's so you! Second, I got chills reading this. More! More! I hate it when you leave us hanging. Have a great weekend!
  21. I thought about writing something similar but I found I couldn't. So bravo. This was a brave piece of fiction. I loved the imagery here: "the way he scrunched his lips to one side when he tried to make a decision" Well done.
  22. Only admiration for your writing ... You have a gift!
  23. Oh, Natalie. I am so sick to my stomach...I felt her pain, her emptiness. You have so much talent, my friend. Please don't let this story die...please bring us more. (I have pull with the person who picks the prompts...let me know what you need.) Simply awesome writing.
  24. Painful to read, but ever so good.
  25. This is every mother's worst nightmare. My heart began to race within the first few lines of your third paragraph. And then this line: "That I only could hear his voice screaming “Mommy” in fear..." Cut my heart open. If you demand concrit, the caps are unnecessary in this paragraph: "That this WAS.NOT.FAIR. and that MY.LITTLE.BOY.DIDN’T.DESERVE any of this." Those words require no extra emphasis.
  26. Oh wow. This is a tough read! Very well done though. I can't imagine writing it— getting into the head of someone in your main character's situation must have been so very painful. No wonder you cried!
  27. Oh...this is so good. This one tore at my heart. It felt so real, though it is a piece of fiction. A mother's worst nightmare to lose her child, and you captured those feelings so well with your words. You brought me to the place where she was. I was devastated with her. I could feel too how she had to be tough for her boy. As a mother, if I were in her position, my thought would be the same. On a different note, I was left trying to figure out what happened to her son - why was there rope tied around his neck? Why was he praying for her? It's nagging at me, even now. Is that to be revealed for another time? You are such a good storyteller. I can't wait to read more fiction from you!
  28. I'm so glad you continued this storyline, Natalie. I remember the first story very well. This is all so painful. Of course after the last story there was the hope she would find him. To find out what happened...there are no words. One tiny thing: "I still looked for him everywhere I went, even though I know he wouldn’t be there" - should be "knew" because you need to keep everything past tense.
  29. I am so glad this was fiction! I agree with the previous comment about putting "This is fiction..." at the top! You used the word "That..." to begin a series of phrases, but it was inconsistent. They seem to all refer back to "How could I make people understand that..." but it is disjointed. I haven't read the previous post yet, but this gave me chills. It is really difficult to write about something this terrible, and you did a great job!
  30. My little daughter was the victim of sexual assault. You have described the pain and anguish of walking into the courtroom and experiencing seeing the perpetrator and knowing that whatever the outcome was, I was going to walk away unsatisfied. My baby's innocence was stolen. She suffers daily. My husband and I suffer daily along with her. The depression, the cutting to feel something, anything. The helplessness of it all. Your last paragraph hit it home. That you cried when you wrote this, that I cried when I read it is all you need to know that it was true to the heart. And I am so glad it is your fiction.
  31. Stunning stunning stunning, i was in tears was not aware of the fact that it was fiction. beautifully written. i could feel what that mother was feeling.
  32. Coolwhipmom says:
    This post was painful to read and extrememly powerful. You are an amazing writer, Nat. I bow down to you.
  33. This hits too close to home. I feel her pain. A wonderfully written follow up.