A four-year-old boy sits on a train with his mother and his baby sister. The mother attends to the baby. The little boy daydreams. An elderly man with a pleasant face joins the carriage. He asks, "Do you love your sister?" An ordinary question asked by an ordinary man. He continues, "I had a little sister... I took her and put my hands around her neck and I pinched her and I pinched her until she was dead."
Playing with the line between fact and fiction, Shirley Jackson's short story is disruptive and shocking, yet oddly familiar and reminiscent. It disturbs the commonplace, probing the façade of the everyday to question exactly just of what people are capable.