The Mother of the Tried (Friday Fictioneers, April 2015)

Copyright Roger Bultot

“You should have strangled him at birth!”

Ellen recoiled, staggering.

Her assailant was manhandled away by the police, and Sarah bundled Ellen into the car.

“Hang on, Ellen. We’ll soon be home.”

“That poor man… his family… and all because he gave my son a job.”

Ellen sobbed into her handkerchief as Sarah negotiated a cavalcade of camera flashes, ignoring the occasional livid face thrust against the side windows.

“They think I raised a monster. How could I know what he was capable of…?”

Sarah swallowed hard.

If it were my son, I think I’d have known…

But would she?

Does anyone…?

Looks like we might be in for a bunch of grim ones this week.  😦  So I’ll get mine in early.  Friday Fictioneers, under Rochelle’s guardianship, takes flight again this Wednesday.  Thanks for finding the time Rochelle, I know you’re up to your ears in work right now. 

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

102 Responses to The Mother of the Tried (Friday Fictioneers, April 2015)

  1. Horus says:

    I thought so too Sandra – so tried thinking a bit different ! 🙂

    Somehow the stories of X men flashed after I read your story 😀

    Like

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Mine’s not grim, but you may be right.

    Yours is an understated reminder of the reality that is life. And no, no one knows. Well done.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sandra says:

      Thank you Doug. It was an idea that had been drifting around in my head since that terrible plane crash in the Alps the other week. It’s almost impossible to imagine what a mother might feel under such circumstances. Glad you put up a cheery one this week, made me grin.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Sandra,

    My youngest child was such a little hellion, that I wondered if this wouldn’t be my lot in life when he grew up. Fortunately he turned out to be a fine young man.

    Yes, I think the grim reaper will be busy with Friday Fictioneers this week. Your story is true to life and breathtaking. Searingly good writing as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  4. Would we know? And if so, could we admit it? Very provocative story and well written.

    Like

  5. You think you now the ones you love. But do you?

    Like

  6. Ooooh what a great little story!! How poignant 🙂

    Like

  7. Great story, Sandra. I knew of one boy who ended up getting shot by the police. He got on dope and made the wrong friends. His mother always justified his behaviour. She seemed not to be able to help herself. When he got on dope, she was scared of him. Tragic. Well done as always and very realistic. — Suzanne

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I knew a girl, something of a loner, (and one day I suffered badly at her hands) whose mother was in absolute denial about her daughter’s tendencies. I often wonder what became of the girl. Thanks for reading Suzanne.

      Like

  8. wildbilbo says:

    Grim yes, but a nice spin on the standard by looking at the family left behind instead of the wrong-doer.
    Well done.
    KT

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sue says:

    Good write, and thought provoking

    Like

  10. micklively says:

    Good question.
    Good piece.

    Like

  11. I have tried to stay away from the grim (for a change)! Very thought provoking Sandra, we always think we would know but I guess everyone has a hidden side.

    Like

  12. storydivamg says:

    Good story, Sandra. It reminds me of a movie review I heard on NPR a few years back for We Need to Talk About Kevin. I always meant to watch that, and now I think I shall back track and try to pick up a copy. Would we, indeed, ever really know about our own offspring?

    All my best,
    MG

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I read the book and saw the film, Marie Gail. The book was better than the film (as usual). I think the mother in that story knew (or rather intuited) what her son was like, but she never envisaged he’d be capable of the final outcome, which was more horrific in the book, as I recall.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Tragic story here. This is the world as it is.
    (We’ve had similar thoughts this time.)

    Like

  14. Good portrayal of a mother’s grief and uncertainty.

    Like

  15. ansumani says:

    All the characters came to life…even the prodigal ‘maybe’ adopted son. Brilliant.

    Like

  16. gahlearner says:

    I’ve been thinking of the plane crash, too, when I read your story. And there are so many other occasions like this. No, I don’t think family can know, or be blamed; not always. Excellent story.

    Like

  17. How can a mother ever know.. whenever I see someone portrayed as monster I realize that there are usually more victims than we thought at first.

    Like

  18. Norma says:

    A mother’s heart knows but also can be blinded by deep love for her children at times. Who knows? Nobody can know. Excellent story and a wonderful portrayal of a mother’s love/denial.

    Like

  19. paulmclem says:

    Really like your take here. Had me from the beginning. Excellent idea. If anything I wasn’t 100% sold on the last couple of lines. Can see the aim, but there’s just something about it which felt a bit loose in comparison with the tight story above.

    Like

  20. Francesca Smith says:

    A very thought provoking and poignant tale.

    Like

  21. elmowrites says:

    I doubt anyone really knows – even if you have fears or suspicions, you could be wildly off the mark – and even if you did, what can you do? They’s born, they gotta be raised.
    Great story, Sandra, very vivid and true-to-life; I like how the friend is supportive and yet has her doubts too.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      It’s a complete dilemma. If the mother of the Germanwings pilot had suspected, she’d have had to destroy his career and probably their relationship. And yet afterwards there’s all that guilt… Thanks for reading Jen.

      Like

  22. Jen says:

    I think many parents biggest fear is the actualization of what their children become. I loved your story,

    Like

  23. Great take on the prompt Sandra. You can never truly know what anyone is capable of, fantastic story 🙂

    Like

  24. This makes me think of the Germanwings co-pilot’s parents. I’ve wondered whether on some level, deep in their core, they feared the worst when they first got the news of the crash.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Hi Barbara, yes, it was that event that inspired this piece. As I said above, if you suspected, then you’d have had to destroy his career and your relationship with him. But if you don’t act… how do you live with both your personal bereavement and the guilt for the innocent parties involved. Life is, indeed, difficult.

      Like

      • Oh, I should have read through the comments, Sandra. Parenting a mentally ill child is torture enough in so many ways and now they are even robbed of the opportunity to grieve their son properly without the specter of all those other people haunting them. Your story was perfect for this haunting scenario.

        Like

        • Sandra says:

          Thanks Barbara. I read that they were being well-supported by the other people of their town, which was encouraging to hear. I hope, as more information percolates out, that support continues. But I expect that more than a few will entertain that same internal dialogue.

          Liked by 1 person

  25. plaridel says:

    who would have thought? the fact is we can’t really tell how one’s life will turn out. we could only hope for the best.

    Like

  26. So easy to judge.
    I liked this one Sandra.

    Like

  27. Great piece of writing, Sandra. I often think to myself, “He was once someone’s baby; a pride and joy to his parents,” when I see that someone has committed a heinous crime. We truly can never tell how a child will turn out. We just do our best and hope for a good outcome.

    Like

  28. Dave says:

    Arsonists start small, so to answer the final question, you probably would have known. Whether you could do anything about it?

    Like

  29. A grim one, as you said, Sandra, but very thought provoking. I don’t think anyone can really know what someone else will do, since we’re all capable of evil deeds. I usually like to take the opposite tack from how the picture feels, but I did tend to follow the main theme this week, I think.

    Like

  30. Sally says:

    The guilt of the mother is deep felt. You do think you would know but somehow you don’t.

    Like

  31. draliman says:

    Great questions at the end – people always think the relatives, especially the mother, should have known what their kid was like, but is that a reasonable assumption? Certainly not always, I think.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      There’ll always be some parents who are too wrapped up in their own lives to take much notice of what’s going on in their childrens’. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  32. JED says:

    Just leaves you with a bit of the willies. We never know, do we?

    Like

  33. britlight says:

    That’s a scary thought.

    Like

  34. Liz Young says:

    Oh gods! that’s an awful thought. Well written but not what any mother wants to contemplate.

    Like

  35. rgayer55 says:

    I would imagine that even when we see the signs of mental instability and violence popping up in our children we still be in denial. A woman I work with was told by her son’s shrink that she was the cause of his problems. Knowing her personally, I find this hard to believe.
    My heart goes out to Ellen and other parents in similar situations.

    Like

  36. IB Arora says:

    while we hardly know our children, we have a tendency not to see what is sometimes obvious

    Like

  37. milliethom says:

    It’s hard for any parent to accept that their child has turned out so badly. Sometimes the change from sweet child to monster develops over the years and parents are too preoccupied with work and/or their own social circle to notice what’s going on. Very well written and thought provoking piece, Sandra.

    Like

  38. I think the answer to the question is “no”. Denial is one of our most powerful defensive tools. It keeps us from knowing the truth that would drive us insane.

    Like

  39. Amy Reese says:

    That is a perplexing question, Sandra. I don’t think we know. I think parents can do everything right and still have a monster. But I hope not. Well written and great story!

    Like

  40. What a great story Sandra. This must be the feeling of so many parents ranging from those that do an act to an individual to those that mass kill. How do you know and how do you live with the knowledge afterwards?

    Like

  41. luckyjc007 says:

    Everyone likes to believe that their children will grow up to be mature adults and be a blessing to society and not a curse. You can raise them the best you know how, but there are no guarantees of how they turn out. Great story, and gives us a lot to think about.

    Like

  42. Mike says:

    How do you keep coming up with great stories? This one hits every parent square on the nose. Every parent has thought about this at one time or the other.

    I always look for your story every week to read. And it is easy to find you – always near the front.

    Like

  43. Jan Brown says:

    It’s a provocative photo, isn’t it? I always wonder how the parents feel, when a young person commits a heinous crime. I don’t think the warning signs are always clear, but even so, the guilt must be crushing. You did a great job of expressing that.

    Like

  44. It’s impossible to ever know totally what’s going on in another person’s head, even your own family. The jury is still out, re the nature versus nurture debate. Some children who are spoiled rotten turn out as monsters, just as some who are neglected. The brain can just flip over into the dark side.
    You portray that poor mother’s feelings of being judged for how her son has turned out, of people assuming she knew he was a monster and in some way covered for him, even secretly condoning his evil.
    A well written and though-provoking story, Sandra.

    Like

  45. Who knows what lies within? It’s something we never should forget but something we can never truly know. Great job as usual.

    Like

  46. subroto says:

    Nature versus nurture. I don’t think anyone can tell what lies beneath. Nicely done,

    Like

  47. Oh that 20/20 hindsight! If we could have known, what would each of us change? The back and forth here is spot on and so dynamic. Excellent story, that challenges the reader on so many levels.

    Like

  48. Susan Langer says:

    Good storyline. In today’s world it is hard to say if we could be unbusy enough to notice if our child had problems. I like to think we would.:)

    Like

  49. A difficult question posed by your piece. Chilling.

    Like

  50. Dale says:

    Yowza! Like the book Nineteen Minutes ~ who could ever think their child could do anything so heinous?

    Like

  51. Nan Falkner says:

    Dear Sandra, Great story and this is one of those things you think of when you hear about a school shooting by a kid. Like at Columbine and other schools tragedies – I wondered how the parents couldn’t have known – but I know the parents didn’t know. Except for that one mother that took her mentally disturbed son shooting – I think she probably didn’t want to believe it. So sad! Nan

    Like

  52. rogershipp says:

    Heart-wrenchingly true from both sides. I am sure that these conversations happen. Wow!

    Like

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