“The Power of Guilt” | The Story Behind the Story

Having only recently discovered Flash Fiction, I’m pleased to have my first piece published at Friday Flash Fiction today.

Here is the link to my piece:

The Power of Guilt, by Archibald Hobbs – Friday Flash Fiction

There are several things I like about my Flash Fiction piece.

Firstly, I’m pleased with the echo created by the sequence of “puerile derision“, “servile submission“, “vile indecision” and “mobile precision“, spread across the four paragraphs of the story. I’m pretty chuffed with “corrosive tears venting from his eyes” too. I think the original placeholder text was the cliched “tears welling in his eyes“, or something similar.

Secondly, I like the pay-off in the final paragraph. The events in the set-up took place over 20 years ago, yet our Asian friends still face discrimination and prejudice today. Whether that prejudice was caused by the pandemic, or whether the pandemic merely helped reveal the prejudice which already simmered under the surface, is an open question for the reader to decide.

So what is the story behind the story?

The event in the set-up is inspired by a true event at a house party I attended shortly after graduation from high school. As you can tell, it still haunts me. An Asian friend – the only Asian in our class – was racially attacked by a white classmate who had far too much to drink. The only thing more harrowing than the look on my friend’s face was my failure to do anything in that moment.

Over the years, I have thought about whether I should have tried to reason with the aggressor or whether I should have tried to physically restrain him. But they say you should never argue with a drunk.

Perhaps the better step would have been to put my arm around the victim’s shoulders and lead him from the room. I think that is what I should have done.

Instead, I was overcome by peer pressure. I didn’t join the baying mob. But I didn’t do much to help either.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my story. I welcome feedback. If you liked my piece, let me know. If you have feedback on how I could have done a better job, I’d love to hear it. And if you hated it, I’d love to hear from you too (but don’t be surprised if I return fire!).


Published by archibaldhobbs

I'm the author of the upcoming novel, "The Glorious Face of Sorrow" (Austin Macauley). I've had flash fiction published at The Drabble, 101 Words, 50-Word Stories, Friday Flash Fiction and Pocket Fiction UK. I write primarily to impress my wife, but would be delighted to have a wider audiennce.

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