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The Cabin

It's What's Missing

By Lilly CooperPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Top Story - August 2023
The Cabin
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

We drove up the snowy, winding road towards the cosy A-frame cabin.

It looked the same as it always did: picturesque, peaceful, pretty.

But it felt different.

I knew the others felt it too.

I looked harder, taking in the details and trying to pin point the reason for the feeling.

The lights were up on the eaves. The tree is in the front bay window all lit up.

The wreath hung on the red door.

The little birds gathered around the feeder. The squirrels dashed light footed across the top of the blanket of snow.

Everything sparkled, covered in white.

The silence in the car was deeper than the quiet outside.

Things were unpacked from the car and put away.

Bags in rooms.

Brightly coloured gifts under the tree.

The cabin seemed to echo in a way I didn’t remember it doing before.

My husband wore a smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes. He pated my shoulder as he headed to stoke the fire the custodian lit for us earlier.

The familiar old cabin felt strange and foreign.

Open and empty.

I drifted around the rooms looking for what has made our annual holiday refuge feel so alien.


I find. Nothing.

I find myself in the kitchen, normally warm and inviting.

It felt cold and sterile.

It was missing something.

With a deep sigh, I went about all my normal routines.

Boil water for a cup of tea.

Heat the oven to bake our favourite sweet biscuits, cut in the shape of Christmas trees with the cookie cutter from the top draw, where it always was.

I mixed the ingredients.

On the shelves where they always are.

Taking the tray and liner from the cupboard I prepared it ready for the biscuits.

They were where they always were.

I took the rolling pin from its cute novelty Christmas holder.

Where it always is.

I let the task wash over me without having to think. I didn’t have to be present.

Something is missing.

Standing at the sink, washing away the flour from my fingers, I looked up.

The window frames perfectly a twin swing set.

My son swings on one side.

Dragging his toes through the snow.

My son.

It sounds wrong.

It’s missing something.

The empty swing beside my boy moves a little in a breeze and I picture him sitting on that swing.

Wet trickles down my cheeks.

Drops mix with the running water.

My vision blurrs and I can’t see him or the empty swing any more.

Strong hands guide me to a wooden chair.

In silence, they dry my hands with a tea towel.

Then they dry my tears.

Small hands, so familiar. I’m so used to holding them wrapped in mine.

Now, the little fingers, so sure of themselves, wrap my fingers around a fragrant cup of tea.

A little voice whispers “We miss him too.”

I know what’s feels different.

And I know what’s missing.

An ‘S’.

So simple.

Yet so big.

The cabin seems to echo because there should be more than one little voice.

There should have been more luggage.

There should have been more brightly coloured wrapping.

There should have been more noise.

There should have been another occupied swing.

There should have been sons. Not just son.

I know it won’t ever feel the same again.

It will always be different.

Until that difference begins to feel familiar, I will take comfort in those big strong hands, those soft little hands.

And memories of you.

December 7th 2003, Daniel Morcombe was abducted while waiting for the bus to go Christmas shopping for his family. He is survived by his mother, father and twin brother.

His parents, Denise and Bruce Morcombe in the 19 years since his passing have done a lot of work in our schools and communities about child safety because they wanted to help prevent other families suffering the same losses.

This story is inspired by the strength the Morcombe family has always shown.

At a time when we seem to increasingly be losing touch with what is really valuable, I want to send a timely reminder.

It’s not the fancy tree. It’s not the decorations. It’s not the lights, the food, the location, the expense or gifts that matter.

Please stop a moment, peel away all the commercialisation of Christmas and remember: it’s our loved ones that make the day.

By Myriam Zilles on Unsplash


About the Creator

Lilly Cooper

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I may be an amateur Author, but I love what I do!

Subscribe to join me on my journey!

Click the link to connect with other Australian Creators on Vocal Media Creators Australia

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Comments (22)

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  • Missclicked3 months ago

    incredible story, congrats on TS!

  • Margaret Brennan3 months ago

    such a sad but strong story - a reminder that we should always be aware of hidden dangers. A story of how strong a mother's love will always be. GREAT writing.

  • JBaz3 months ago

    A very inspiring story, how does a parent and family cope, do they ever heal. Congratulations

  • Alexander McEvoy3 months ago

    That was... oof... wow... that was powerful. Beautifully and heartbreakingly done

  • Andrew McKenzie3 months ago

    this is soo very much compelling and captivating i loved the story.

  • Andrew McKenzie3 months ago

    this is soo very much compelling and captivating i loved the story.

  • Ashley Lima3 months ago

    Happy to see work from so long ago get featured as a Top Story as it's a shame this went under the radar for so long! Congratulations. This is wonderfully heartbreaking. Amazing writing

  • GeekyOwen3 months ago

    I'm thoroughly impressed by your work. You've set a new standard of excellence.

  • Herbert3 months ago

    Great text

  • Babs Iverson3 months ago

    Heartbreaking with a powerful message!!! ❤️❤️💕

  • Tiffany Gordon 3 months ago

    WOW how sad... I HATE HATE HATE that these types of things even exist... what amazing writing with a wonderful message Lilly. My heart aches for Daniel & the Morcombes... Thx 4 sharing this piece...

  • Houston Thompson3 months ago


  • Mackenzie Davis3 months ago

    Oh my God, this was so heart-wrenching. The delayed gratification to the reveal, the repetition of "something is missing" only to discover that what's missing is MORE. Wow. That was so masterfully done, Lilly. Great job. So awful to learn that it was based on a true story. This was such a well-crafted poem that I wouldn't have guessed it wasn't personal. Props to you for humanizing a stranger's grief. And congrats on Top Story! Well-deserved.

  • Cendrine Marrouat3 months ago

    Lilly, thank you for this very important reminder. Your story is beautifully written. I was there with the family, as if I had experienced the same thing. You did a masterful job!

  • L.C. Schäfer3 months ago

    Oh this was so sad. And then to find out it was based on a true story, so poignant ❤

  • Mother Combs3 months ago

    Heart touching

  • Beautifull written, I feel the sadness

  • U.Rdiya12 months ago

    I felt every word you wrote. well written!

  • Jasmine S.12 months ago

    Missing, an apt word to convey the feeling of empties when someone always occupied that space, whether on our hearts or memories. Beautiful! ♥️

  • sleepy drafts12 months ago

    This is so tragic, as well as, beautifully written. I got chills while reading. Thank you so much for sharing this.❤️

  • KJ Aartilaabout a year ago

    This is so beautifully done - and well incorporates your message.

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