The Louder Actions: For Chelsea King

Many mornings, I awake in gritty sands of sleep - the clouds of stormy dreams lift but residual rocks remain, that which hasn't been ground into fine dust between my molars.

I don't sleep well. Also a residual rock.

Always, words, amorphous non-sequiturs tumble loose and heavy, clunking about my sleepyhead until I'm sufficiently caffeinated, medicated and then, a sedimentation commences - troublesome stones that tripped my mind are washed, cut, honed until that one most insistent to be heard - the thought screaming like a diamond - pushes to rest against the wall of my mind and explodes with clarity. So I set it as strikingly as I can, adorning the centerpiece with so many lesser precious jewels.

Today's ring isn't much of one at all - or seemed such, at first. An ill-fitting piece I tried to force over my knuckle until giving up the fight and looking beyond my hands into those of others; those of the world.

The thought that drove itself like cold steel into my dull, grey matters was:

"What do you say to them?"

Just words. Typical of my mind - another non-sequitur a synapse pops in and out of existence - into that invisible word bubble over my head and gone with another flash.

"What do you say to them?"

I searched the phrase, in quotes, thinking I'd find humor in it; I did. A video result - Kirk Cameron instructing on "The Way of The Master: Witnessing to Family" - and if you know me, there's nothing in the world funnier than religion, much less religion instructed by Mike Seaver. The optional search offered to me: Say shut up. (Honestly, Google, you thought I needed to be told I had the option? You don't know me at all...) A Q&A page where someone asked how to respond to intrusive questions and got the following reply:

""How much is your rent?' or "What do you make a year?'? What do you say to them?".

And I would answer "I tell them 'None of your God damned business!'".

The inquiring mind should've just Googled "What do you say to them?" and immediately discovered the
Say shut up option - saved herself the time, effort and ""horrific punctuation errors!."!

That's what Google would answer would tell her.

Fact is, the majority of the search results were not funny; indeed, they were strikingly sad - distressing, disturbing. The first result: How to Help a Suicidal Person. Next: Parents. The Anti-Drug. -- Is Your Teen Using? (What - was Google posting results or chronicling my life, here?) Next: Al Jazeera Blogs. (Well, so they were spying on me! Damn you, Google!) How to help bullied children, what to say to the terminally ill, how to handle difficult people (insert
Say shut up option here) - Christ! Why in the hell had my brain - out of all the damn pebbles rollicking around its hollow home - picked this horrible phrase for me to hammer away at this morning?


So I left it. Left it and moved on to my homepage. I'd read some news. Maybe make a real stride towards negating a few IQ points and head straight for the entertainment section.

That, however, wasn't an option. Not with the headline - the breaking news.

Oh, how it breaks. you say to them?

You can launch into an angry tirade about how sex offenders cannot, ever, be rehabilitated. How this innocent girl's rape and murder was entirely preventable. Depending on the velocity of your views, you might say all rapists/pedophiles should be imprisoned for life; castrated; simply done away with completely - death sentences for all of them.

A story of personal loss may surface - the death of a loved one, perhaps even a child, or a family member murdered - and you may feel compelled to quietly share your sadness with these mourning parents, so raw and fresh with pain, walking wild in their gaping, open wound - this idiopathic bleed that's swept one life away, leaving in its wake these two: baffled, sick, dying their own large deaths.

Perhaps you think to say, "I wish I'd known her," or, "She seemed like she was such a wonderful, bright and beautiful girl," and let these kind sentiments hang in a present past-tension before walking away.

Death be not proud, and in its midst, neither are we; Death makes of us all awkward, fumbling tongues. What comes easiest, of course, is, "I'm so sorry." Yet these words are the feeblest and, in turn, leave us feeling weak, useless. Everyone will say they are sorry - your apology, though sincere, will not be special, remembered - it will not stand-out from all the rest.

Nor should it.

Be not proud.

There is that internal sigh of relief, isn't there, when we utter our condolences? "It's over. I've said what I can. To say more would be too much; to say more would be self-centered. This wasn't my loss. And, truly, I am sorry. There's nothing more for me to say."

No. There is not.

What do you say to them?

What don't you say to them?

The railing against sex offenders, laws and the politicking of it all will be hammered away at these bereaved parents for the rest of their lives - it started in the days prior to now, when Chelsea first went missing - as that is how our current press works - it presses. The Kings will have their unique, precious jewel of a daughter compared to innumerable other young women over and over again, every time another beloved girl goes missing, is found sexually assaulted, murdered. They will hear more stories of personal loss than they ever thought imaginable nor ever cared to and they will want the stories to stop. They will want to remember Chelsea. They will want to fight to prevent such tragedies from befalling another young woman but, they will think, let us be this selfish and want only to think of and remember our own darling diamond girl.

They will want to know you're sorry. They will want to hear it but soon, it will drone in their ears like white noise, buzz like throngs of angry wasps swarming overhead that suddenly attack, stinging with fresh pain until they scream not for words, for God's sake - enough of the goddamn words.

We know the adage.

I write. Not so well, but it is my go-to action. The only action I go-to before writing is hugging. Embracing, hugging is the most incredible physical action. So much transpires there, in that space. Space, in fact, disappears, which is what makes the embrace so remarkable. It is a quiet thing; words are not necessary when raveled in the arms of compassion and love.

I do not know the Kings, nor am I in proximity or familiarity to hug them (though my custom is to greet newly-met people with hugs, not handshakes, and I've hugged many a stranger who appeared to be in despair - as hugs repair - and I regret not one of them). I wish that I could, though. Instead, I write. Write and continue to ask the tough questions, offer the uneasy truth, even though I know so few (if any) stumble across these rocky words.

I don't wish Death to the many who hurt me as a child; they were born with a brain malfunctioning - a mind we cannot understand. No, they cannot be rehabilitated, and science, psychiatry, psychology has proven this - many offenders themselves admit they cannot stop the compulsion to reoffend - which is why they need to be sanctioned in some new way. This is not a time for soapboxing my ideas, however. Because I live.

Chelsea King does not.

A child was murdered. Raped and murdered by a man with a record, previously imprisoned for molesting a 13 year-old girl yet only served 5 years of a 6 year sentence. A man who showed no remorse for the act, according to police.

Five years. A six-year sentence.

The prosecutors insisted on this "penalty" over an 11 year sentence.

What I would say to them...

I want to take Chelsea King into my arms, embrace her, hold her, rock her and tell her soothingly, "I know...I know..."

But I don't know. I do not know all of what Chelsea King knows.

I do not know all of what Chelsea King knew.

Now, confronted with that present past-tension.

What do you say to them?

"I'm so sorry."

A last, dear embrace.

A letting-go.




What I wish a very young and terrified Annie had been able to do in order to prevent the possible hurting of others. "How many?" I often wonder. "What would I say to them?"


What I wish Chelsea now, in this tense present, had the opportunity to do.

Speak. Oh, what I would have said to them...

That time has passed.

Now - action.


When someone shouted, "We love you," Brent King responded, "We love all of you."


  1. I don't comment often, if ever, on your posts. I am one of those who quietly reads, ingests, and goes on about my day. But today, Annie.... today you made me cry. This touched me. Thank you.

  2. Thank you, Miranda. Thank *you*, Love.

  3. Well examined and put. It's a hard thing to realize that there are no words for some situations. You wish there was something you could say to translate your empathy, your wanting to help somehow. but some things are just too big for anything to be of any help at all. Action is all there is left and while that may not be much comfort, it's the best you can do. Have you read Carver's story "A Small Good Thing?" THat story, to me, always felt like an attempt to deal with this idea.