It was a dark and stormy night when I spied the enemy, that criminal, that eight-legged monster peering at me. Eight eyes watched me, staring into my soul, learning my secrets. Its tan color stood out against my green wall, impossible to ignore. Was I destined to be ruled by this devilish beast?

…So, as you might’ve been able to tell, not the best of days. 

Public Enemy No. 1 was camped out in unreachable territory: above my bookshelf in the space where the wall meets the ceiling. Just to taunt me, it was close enough to the doorway that I imagined it jumping on me whenever I walked through. Looks like it’s the spider’s room now. It can have the Sherlock posters and reggeatón-blasting speakers. 

I had to kill it; couldn’t risk its whole family moving in. As much as I love Marvel, I did not want to turn into Spiderman. Armed with fly swatters, a broom, a stick vacuum, and my nine-year-old brother (a warrior as great as Achilles), I faced the beast. My sister– oh how helpful– recorded and laughed from the corner. An army as good as the Greeks. 

As Commander in Chief, I told my brother the plan as we prepared for battle. Following my instructions, he used the broom to herd the spider onto the ceiling. Now I could reach it with the big guns– the vacuum! Not even a monster could resist the powerful suction of a Dyson!

Sensing danger, it scurried onto the ceiling. I wielded the vacuum into the air, trapping the spider between ceiling and suction. Victory was close at last!


The whirring of the vacuum died out. It’s hard to admit, but this is the moment fear started kicking in, as the hairs on the back of my neck stood. Unable to kill a bug smaller than a quarter? Needing my little brother to back me up? I felt… pathetic.

My eyes fell beneath the spider, to the spotlight of the room: my bookshelf. Five layers of glass supported by bronze scaffolding, and beautifully decorated– owl bookends, dreamcatchers, an origami star made from ripped pages. I can’t imagine my childhood without a book in hand. I’ve watched character after character face challenges and overcome them, wavering in their strength at times but never their bravery. When coming across a spider I think of how Feyre Archeron risked her life to slay the all-powerful King of Hybern. If I’m near tears because of a math problem as riddling as the Sphinx, I remind myself of how Katniss Everdeen fought to protect her people from tyranny. 

These are my heroes, and I wanted to make them proud– no matter how big or small my own story’s villains seemed to be. If they can rise to the challenge, so can I. 

Gathering my strength, I raised the broom above my head, nudging the spider. The little devil spun a web and dropped to the ground Mission Impossible style. Releasing a battle cry, I threw my weapon to the floor and grabbed my trusty fly swatter. Ready, aim, fire! I hit quickly, before the creature could escape. Victory was mine! I stood back as my brother disposed of the corpse. 

After my siblings ran to recount our adventure to Mom, I stood alone and thought about bravery. Courage was learned, and after years of reading stories of unlikely heroes toppling the greatest villains, I had the same bravery as them coursing through my veins. Sure, my problems weren’t of the life-threatening or apocalypse-stopping nature, but I’d overcome them nevertheless. It takes courage to jump over the hurdles of life, however small they may be. For now, a Calculus final might be the biggest villain life throws at me. But what does it matter in the long run that not I’m a sword-wielding warrior, if life’s small obstacles take perseverance and determination to conquer all the same? At its essence, that’s all bravery is– the will to endure and the will to overcome. Who needs weapons when you’ve got those? (And, maybe, a fly swatter.)


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