The Sight of a Scared and Suffering Parent had Become Unbearable.

The missing girl's mother sat in a chair directly across from Nathan Chamber's desk. She was rocking the chair back and forth, but she stopped it and returned it to all fours.

“We don't know if we could get your daughter back safely,” Chambers started. “But we will try. I understand she is your only child.”

“Why would someone take her,” she whimpered. “She's a good girl.”

Chambers nodded somberly.

“She was a smart girl.”

Again he nodded.

“Why did she go to that damn mall?”

Chambers breathed deeply at her as she started to rub her hands. He hadn't realized it, but he was methodically rocking his chair and only realized it when he hit the back wall. He tilted his head and stopped it immediately.

“I washed her clothes and I folded them nice and neat,” she said.”I want her to have nice and fresh clothes when she comes home.”

“I don't blame you,” he said absently. “ Listen to me carefully. We're going to try to get your daughter back to you safely. I need you to also prepare for the worse. I'm sorry I'm the one telling you this but, I don't want you to get your hopes up. What I want you to do is to be strong. Can you be strong for your daughter?”

“I don't understand,” she looked confused.

He sighed for a moment. “I don't want to paint pretty pictures when we know your daughter is in a terrible place. We don't know what to expect.”

“No,” she said softly. “I won't think of the worst, not yet, only after we find out what happened to her when we find her. I can't think of the worse. It'll be unbearable for me.”

She rested her chin on her chest and she wanted to cry. Someone knocked on the door, and Chambers said loudly, “Just a minute.”

“Our street is so busy,” she sniffled. “If she would have stayed home, someone would have saw her and they would have stopped the abduction.”

He nodded.

“James Street is always covered in cops,” she continued. “She would have been safe.”

Nathan Chambers understood the facts. James Street had a Bodega on every block with people sitting in front of them blasting rap music out into the street, and there were several nail salons there too where Latin music came in a large variety. James Street was full of people and traffic, she would have probably been safe.

Chambers then snapped into a different reality. James Street was a block that had run down houses, and the only homes that looked decent were getting ready to be slummed out. Some houses were missing as landlords took their losses and allowed the houses to be torn down and made into parking lots occupied by homeless people and their fire barrels used to keep them warm in the winter.

So many brand name stores disappeared, but the names still remained covered in bird waste and the remains of nests. The other stores that stayed opened looked more like fortresses. The liquor stores had wood and steel covering the windows, the 24 hour laundry mat barred with iron gratings and policed by security guards. The small gas station slash convenient stores were manned by brave Indians who kept one hand under the counter at all times.

“She didn't do anything wrong,” she added.

“I think you should go home now,” Chambers suggested. “Let us do our job.”

Her stomach ached and her hands shook, but she tried to stay firm. “I think you're right.”

He half smiled.

She stood and paused for a moment, then she walked to the corner of his office and started crying uncontrollably. Chambers watched her head sink, and her shoulders sag. She covered her eyes with the palms of her hands and sobbed very loudly.

Though Chambers seen it many times before, the sight of a scared and suffering parent had become unbearable. He had no words of encouragement and only offered a helpless shrug. She then fell into a sitting position and continued sobbing and fighting to catch her breath.

Detective Nathan Chambers walked over and sat down next to her and wrapped his arms around the weeping mother. Then, he couldn't keep from crying.

© 2015 Frank Atanacio

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Comments 34 comments

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 16 months ago from southern USA

Dear Frank,

You have certainly painted the reality so well of the foreboding sense of dread and hopelessness here in your words. I certainly could not even imagine going through such as a parent, nor having to witness parents suffering for their child who has gone missing. That would certainly be hell on earth.

The neighborhood is described perfectly to depict the added ominous feel of the life of the downtrodden and dreariness of it all.

I see I have a lot to catch up on here on HP in reading. So glad to be enjoying the day off!

Peace and blessings

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Dear Faith put your feet up and relax, have a drink or two.. and write that hub you said you were working on snoop dogity Dawg...

billybuc profile image

billybuc 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

Oddly, this is pretty much the scene in the opening chapter of the novel I'm now working on...a scene that plays out across this country daily...chilling!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

then I thank you for the idea LOL

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

Such a foreshadowing of evil and sad things. You have such an uncanny ability to capture the emotion and the scene.

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christinemariezzz 16 months ago


"Wow! You throw adjectives like clay."

Wonderful piece.

Reads as a theatrical dirge of sorts.

Photograph augments it!

Are you taking up the potters wheel? Your story cuts deeply into reality; and yet remains dreadfully stationary. My chair never moved; as your hub turned. (Is that what Flash Fiction does? LOL)

I wonder who you will cast in the next hub.



Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Flourish thank you so much, and Christine it's always good to see you

Jodah profile image

Jodah 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

Good to see Nathan Chambers on a case Frank. Can't have Laura Kimber doing all the work :) Another very realistic depiction. Thanks for sharing your expertise in this genre.

word55 profile image

word55 16 months ago from Chicago

A sad story told very considerably well. You painted a great picture here so well that I hope it ends up flourishing with happiness.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Thanks Jodah..LOL you're right, she needed a break...:) Glad you still remember Chambers

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

word55 thanks for stopping by, I will return the visit bless you :)

Dana Tate profile image

Dana Tate 16 months ago from LOS ANGELES

Great job in bringing to light the suffering and hopelessness a parent feels when their child is abducted. I feel myself rooting for the safe return of the child. You also shed light on how tough it is to be a person in law enforcement. They take a lot of flack when things go wrong; rarely do we realize the suffering they go through to try and make this world a better place for us.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Dana, that was a good comment, thank you Frank

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Smilealot 16 months ago

Once again Frank you have expertly depicted a harrowing and almost unbearable scenario, where despair has well and truly displaced hope....great write my friend:-))

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks so much smilealot...:)

Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 16 months ago from Potter County, Pa.

This would make for good play material. I found myself wanting more. Wonderful hub.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Thanks Diana for stopping by :)

MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean

What a precious scene at the end--not only to the eyes, but to empathic hearts. Still there's no proof of violence, so we can still hope (like her mother does) that the girls is safe.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 16 months ago from New York

The reality in this piece is more bone chilling than a horror story. Having a child abducted is incomprehensible and being the detective dealing with the grieving mother is almost as incomprehensible. How sad our society has come to this.

You paint this picture with a fine brush.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you so much MsDora and Tillsontitan, bless you both :) Frank

Missy Smith profile image

Missy Smith 16 months ago from Florida

This is every mother's nightmare. It is definitely my nightmare. I struggle all the time now when my daughter wants to go somewhere or stay a night away from home with friends. I felt this ladies anguish. I felt her need to keep hope alive until she had the answers. I felt the sickness she had in the pit of her stomach, and the feeling of exhaustion and confusion. I felt this story. I wish I didn't feel this story. I hope I never do in reality.

Good story Frank, but a hard one to read when you have children, and you see this kind of stuff happening in real life every single day. It's heartbreaking, and you captured that feeling.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much missy smith... bless you

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 16 months ago from England

Amazing! you filled in the gap that we very rarely see as outsiders to a crime, very well done!

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 16 months ago from sunny Florida

The hard cold reality of life is that this scene plays out too many times in every city, every where throughout the world.

Each line drew me further and further into this tragic story.

Angels are on the way to you this evening, Frank.. ps

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks Nell and pstraubie for reading my shorts.. :) Frank

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 16 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Sadly, this is so common in many parts of this country, as well as the world. Will it ever end?

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

avian... thank you for stopping by :)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 16 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Frank I'm running out of adjectives to describe your powerful writing. All I can say is, "Wow," and "keep 'em coming." Thank you for being here. :-)

annart profile image

annart 16 months ago from SW England

The reality of it all hits home and this is certainly chilling. Do we get to find out if she's found or is it a foregone conclusion?

Gripping and right up to your usual high standard, Frank. Brilliant!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

Thank you again Genna for reading my flash.. and annart always good to see you bless you both

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 16 months ago

a powerful piece

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks sujaya

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 13 months ago from london

So many of them like that, Bro. It is a real skill knowing what to say, when to say it, how to comfort a parent. I once heard that Oprah used to be excellent at that. But that was a long time ago.

Another excellent piece. Poignant, but the patient, waiting; hoping side of the job.

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 13 months ago from Shelton Author

thanks manatita44 :) bless you

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