a taste of ‘Growing Up’

182 writers take on childhood and teenage years

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Saliva streaming, / six of us crammed into the car, / enacting the compacting that would / take place in our stomachs. from How to fit the most on your plate by Dave Clark

it wasn’t fate that swept me into you that night / but a shove in the back from a pisshead with a grudge from Brief Encounter by Nick Knibb

My father digs a hole in the garden, / buries the bat in the box / lined with dried grass. from The Box by Lucy Tyrrell

When I was born, my parents could not get over the disappointment of my being female. from Sisters by Jan McCarthy

The kids with aspirations hoped to be beauticians or bricklayers, but the majority had had enough of learning and would end up in unskilled jobs, captives in the town where they were conceived. from Once Upon a Teen by Yvonne Clarke

When Miss Aide, a widow woman, had a hot / fudge sundae after church with Grandpa / Aunt May pulled a face. from David’s Dairy Bar by Mike Lewis-Beck

If anything in this image / I was an acorn / and not a big one from Teenage Squirrels by Martin Breul

We thumb through the surgeon’s albums of before and after photos. Profile pictures of people transformed. from Nose Job by Joan Sidney

I heard the sound of dishes being cleared and then they must’ve moved into the living room, because pretty soon Myrna was playing the piano while Jane sang some aria in Italian. from Swimming in the Dark by Ann Liska

I’d like to claim I was so immersed in TV westerns that I can still remember all that detail today. That would be untrue … from Growing Up with TV by Martin Phillips

Mounting our bikes, / With neighborhood kids, / Perfecting skills / with juicy pink bubblegum, from Summers by Lois Perch Villemaire

“Don’t talk that way about your mother. She’s going through the changes.” from From the Backseat of the Oldsmobile by Stephanie Satie

‘Horse shite,’ I said. ‘Horse shite?’ he said. / ‘A barrow full steaming beside us. / I shovelled it. I remember that,’ I said. from All Grown Up by S J Mannion

I look at the fading red paint exterior and the worn black leather seat, the big steering wheel, and the tall floor shift. from Red Truck by Mark Donnelly

When Mommy bought the fur coat Lucius cried and cried and barked at it even though Lucius never barks, because he’s a biter. from Hair of the Dog by Beatriz Seelaender

There are two things you are expected to do / Address your elders as sir and ma’am / And drink Sweet Tea from Sweet Tea by John Kojak

Rachel said / we needed to put on / bikini tops / for the boys from Bikini Tops by Kelly Nickie

“Who the fuck are you?” comes the question and with it I am seen. I float in the moment, revel in its warmth, then hold out the bag. from Jelly Babies by Mark Stocker

We clacked snapdragon lids / as the Tampax lady preached / applicator tampons, from A nice lady by Ruth Moss

You’ve never seen a communist before. You wonder what they look like, if you can tell just by looking and, if not, how Mr Henderson knew. from Roots by Rachel Swabey

I stepped inside. The store was quiet and dimly lit. I guessed that the other customers were in church. from Small and Crooked by Rita Hooks

I still have my first / Earring—green and gold / I lost the other one from Earrings by Melissa E. Wong

Ms. Fanning’s entire second grade class had gone home covered in glitter, despite her strenuous efforts to get the kids to shake it off in the playground. from Art Class by R. C. Capasso

He jokes about puberty / He talks about growing hair / He asks how long will they grow? from Where Did the Time Suddenly Go? by Amanda Jane Bayliss

My grandparents were big into praying and everything that came along with it – rosary beads, prayer books, blessing yourself: in the name of the father, son and holy spirit (AKA the sign of the cross) … from The Sausage by Ró Stack

On Jenny’s first day at school, she had already rolled up the waistband of her uniform skirt four times to make sure her knees and lower thighs showed. from Alpha Female by Kate Flannery

Sam the Tailor on South Street / made me a suit for the funeral. from A Suit for My Father by Paul Bluestein

Hedgerows slake the thirst: wild blackberries / and raspberries for birds, field mice and me. from Yorkshire Childhood by Mandy Toczek Mc Peake

Mo said nothing but held up a powerfully magenta bra. Angus turned away. “Come on, darling, you know I wear them,” Mo laughed. from Defining Pastel by R. J. Kinnarney

One night at the dinner table he asked his parents about their fighting style. “Mom, Dad, how come when you fight you never scream at the same time?” from Silent Danger by Mark Blickley