The Quiet Sadism of the Powerless

Image of steam rising from a cup of tea.She woke to news of another stalemate, more children dying on the border, mounting humanitarian crises overseas, and a small mass in her breast. She made her tea, took deep breaths, cried, and set about her day. Friends and colleagues wanted to argue politics, climate change, gun control, and if we were entering the apocalypse. But she stayed silent, swallowing her corporeal fears, not wanting to fixate or spill more pain. Later, she noticed a spider, tiny and black, crawling along the sink. She paused, inhaled, then swiftly, fatally, brushed its body away, too small to pinch to its death.

Heather Bourbeau writes poetry, fiction, and reports for UN agencies. She is included in Nothing Short Of: Selected Tales from 100 Word Story.

Photo Credit: Beret Olsen

3 Responses to “The Quiet Sadism of the Powerless”

  1. Amita Basu says:

    Arresting story. The denial and shock of waking up to the possibility of a serious illness is stark. I feel the narrator’s frustration that the spider was too small to kill.

  2. Maria Angeles Capellades Sola says:

    Powerful – love the action at the end. Do we feel compassion? and if so, for who?

  3. Andrew Dugas says:

    Awesome. The pain from without and the pain from within.

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