Coming Of Age—2022

We invited you to write the first line of a coming-of-age story that you might write in 65 words or less.

Here we present the winners and finalists:


I realized I wasn’t wired for this world when I found out that people reminded me of random stuff; dad was a maroon crayon, my stepmom a crystal, my youngest brother a tree, my oldest brother a toothbrush, and I was a band-aid, not a fabric band-aid, but a plastic one that won’t stick, the ones they had at my second chance school.

Esther Bennenbroek
Kent, Ohio


Everyone said my grandmother was beautiful though I never saw it, probably because, by the time I spent most of my weekend days with her, she was depressed and living in a housecoat, teaching my seven-year-old self to blow smoke rings on her Eve cigarettes.

Kathryn Smith
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

A dare is flimsy and holds no real weight, but a double dog dare is legitimate, especially to a nine-year-old. “Only if you do it.” My parents watched as I ran down the street with the skirt of my dress pulled up and my ten-year-old neighbor behind me wearing only a t-shirt. I was grounded from wearing dresses.

Renee Veldman
Homer, Arkansas

I've found that shitty childhoods are humorous in many ways. For me, problematically suppressing feelings comes out as, should be drinking celery juice everyday? or, I need to start waking up at four a.m. and become a marathoner, and, I want to move across the country, rebrand myself completely, and tattoo my entire back. I'm still rough drafting those ideas, but they sound promisingly avoidant.

Amanda Meredith
Homer, Alabama

When I was five years old, I met a man named Chili Bowl, saved the life of another man with a gun to his head, and learned to tie my shoe, all in the same day.

Tiffany Funderburg
Austin, Texas

I remember that morning, lying on the floor beneath the single ray of sunlight that poked through the shutters like the finger of God, listening to Grandma slurp her tea, and when I asked her what all those specks floating in the light were, she leaned forward and whispered, “Them’s angels come down to spy on ya,” and that’s when I knew—everybody lies.

Kristine Durrant
Alella, Spain

It was just a classroom door, but to me it loomed like the Doors of Durin - except with my thick glasses and yellow-brown skin, I was the swarthy dwarf, and I definitely didn't speak the language of the terrifying Elven teenagers inside, judging me with their beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair while they ruled over what was, technically, supposed to be my land.

Yi-Hwa Hanna
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

I’ve always just gone with the flow, so much so, that when I was sixteen I went to sign up for the Army, but they were out to lunch, so I just signed up for the Marine Corps instead since they ordered Chinese that day; I’d never even heard of the Marine Corps before that.

Bethany Schuler
Atlanta, Georgia

Yea, I know it's just a cow pasture. But, it was our field of dreams. That gully was our dugout. Bases were made out of pieces of plywood. We never had enough kids, so we had imaginary fielders in certain positions. That page wire fence, topped with a string of barbed wire, was our outfield wall. Be careful trying to steal a home run.

Jeff Campbell
Plano, Texas

More sobering than kneeling, ass up and vomiting in the high parking lot, wearing a strapless Jessica McClintock gown, was the realization that the 1/2 empty Mason jar of vodka hidden in my closet had been found.

Marni Drechsel
Woodinville, Washington
The contest is closed.