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Coming of Age

The bricks were always cold underneath my bum. Cold and hard. I could feel their sharp edges. In the nights we sat and talked, my brother and I and the neighbourhood boys. The smells of sour smoke and saliva on one, body odour on another, and menace on the other. The fluorescent globes hummed from the train station platform across the road, and the street lights pooled at the corner.

Inside was out of bounds to these boys, so we met on our side stairs. The frosted glass door between us and our home. These were the kids we didn’t trust, the boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Where were their parents? Absent fathers, unsighted mothers, these boys roamed the streets and set me on edge. The attraction to the dirt, to the smell of one’s mouth...I can still feel it now. It was an urge, but not an infatuation. 

The hearts of these boys remained hidden. It was as if they walked in costumes, played their parts, and kept their distance.

One day, my mum greeted me at the side door with these words: “Someone has broken into the house, and they’ve ejaculated all over your pillow.” I was speechless, so she added “They drew a smiley face in it, and left a red pubic hair.”

The smiley face was still visible in the setting semen. There was one tell-tale pube, the red one. My favourite jeans had also been stolen, along with my striped rugby jumper. 

My bedroom now seemed dangerous. I moved onto a li-lo on my parents’ bedroom floor. The police said they would test my linen, but we never heard anything back from the detectives. When I saw the red-headed boy wearing my clothes, he told me his sister had given them to him-but I was pretty sure he didn't have a sister.

Some days after the robbery, one of the boys asked about the silver that had been stolen. We hadn’t even noticed it had gone, but the wankers had. Confessions set in precious metal. Even more was stolen than I had realised.

The smiley face that they had newly painted on the train station sneered back at me each day. At night it looked ghostly under the fluorescence.

(C) Anna Sublet 2017, redraft for entry to podcast competition


  1. Wow this is so intense and incredibly detailed. I love the descriptions and how you've wrapped this story up in a neat, little bow even though there was no justice or satisfaction in the outcome. Great short story.

    1. Yes, Dawn, it certainly had an impact well beyond the event, though I probably didn't realise it so much at the time. Thanks for your lovely feedback.

  2. Such great writing, Anna. There's almost a books worth of character and story just in this little vignette.

    1. Thanks Dani, coming from a girl who has written a book's worth of character and a story (well, first draft!) that is a fine compliment.


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