The Years Will Rush By

Submitted into Contest #139 in response to: Start your story with the words: “Grow up.”... view prompt

27 comments

Coming of Age Contemporary Fiction

ㅤGrow up. Go to school. Tell the class your name. Colour inside the lines. Try to make friends. Brush your teeth for two minutes in the morning. Brush your teeth for two minutes in the evening. Don’t lie. Come inside, you must be freezing. Be nice to your sister. Eat your vegetables. Don't mess around. Learn to tie shoelaces. You're too old for velcro now. Learn about verbs and nouns and adjectives. Let’s mark your height on the doorframe. Come on, stand up straight.

ㅤGrow up. Tuck your shirt in. Stand out from the crowd. Learn to play football. Learn the offside rule. Play in goal instead. Look at me when I’m talking to you. What are you doing with your life? I’m not sure yet. You could do something really important, help people. I know. You could make a difference. I know, Mum. Write an angsty diary. Hide it in your sock drawer. Stay in contact with your friends. Don't spend all your time on your phone. Get an Instagram account. Post at least once a month. You can’t post that, I look awful. Don’t compare yourself to others. Clean your bedroom. Be thankful for what you have. Keep your eyes closed when you kiss. Study hard. Do your homework. Spend time outside. Act mature. You won't be young forever, you know? Don't be so sensitive. Find a hobby. Something enriching. Write a personal statement. Be passionate. Whatever you do, don’t use the word passionate. You like writing, don't you? Tell everyone you are going to be a writer. Smoke your first cigarette. Apply for creative writing courses. Try reading Ulysses. Decide you prefer short stories.

ㅤGrow up. Choose a city hundreds of miles away to move to. Don't go there, it's a shit hole. Pack your entire life into the back of your dad's car. Introduce yourself to your flatmates. Don't be awkward. What are you studying? Where are you from? Where’s that? Decorate your room with pictures of your friends. Tell the class your name, and maybe a fun fact about yourself. Try to make friends. Eat healthy. Study hard. Party harder. Try everything once. Spend time in loud nightclubs. Meet a girl. Just go talk to her, go on. Don't be awkward. She likes the way you part your hair, and the size of hands. Walk her home. Sit in her kitchen and talk about music until five in the morning. Treat her nice. Pretend you like her friends. Buy her tickets to her favourite band. Oh, you can’t wear that. My mum bought it for me. I don’t care, you can’t wear that. Donate all your clothes to charity. Learn about fashion. Wear a silver chain. It looks good on you. Do you think so? Yeah, I do. Ignore the rash on your neck. Take her on a weekend trip to Paris. Make sure you see the Eiffel Tower. Avoid the tourist traps. Drink coffee and eat croissants. You imagine growing old together. She thinks that you should see other people. Drive onto the ferry in silence. When you get home, her toothbrush is still next to the sink. Write an angry letter. Throw it away. You should come out with us to the pub tonight. I’m not sure I feel like it. Just come and have one, it’ll make you feel better. Get drunk and piss on her front doorstep. Let it all out, it’s healthy. Try reading Ulysses again.

ㅤGrow up. Choose a career path. Maintain old friendships. Look at studio flats. Check for mould. Apply to work at a pensions company. Dress smart for your interview. Wear the cufflinks your ex-girlfriend got you. They remind you of her. Try not to sweat. Where do you see yourself in five years? Keep your thoughts to yourself. Smile. Stay in touch with family. Tell them about your new job. It's only temporary. You work in pensions now. It's only temporary. I thought you wanted to be a writer? Tell your family that you are working on a new story. It's about a writer who is obliterated by a landmine as he’s walking to deliver a manuscript. It’s satire. Hide in the bathroom. Take deep breaths. Stalk your ex on Facebook. Move on. Try to quit smoking. Attend a literature discussion group at the library. There's a girl with wavy brown hair and black leather boots. She calls William Shakespeare a fascist. This is the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. Read as much Virginia Woolf as you can. Tidy your flat and cut your toenails, just in case. Tell the group that Orlando has been your favourite novel since you were fourteen. Speak with confidence about motivations and allusions. Put your degree to good use. Ask her out.

ㅤGrow up. Buy a double bed. Use fabric softener. Quit smoking for good. Apply for an assistant position at a publishing house. It's a good start. Your new cufflinks match your watch. I’m glad you noticed. Kiss her goodbye in the morning. Learn to cook for two. Eat quinoa for the first time. Book a holiday together. Tell her you hate Paris. Suggest Amsterdam instead. Take lots of photos, I want to hear all about it. Walk along the canal at midnight. Kiss her like you've never kissed anyone before. When you get back, look at houses together. Make a downpayment. Clear out your flat. Find your notebooks from university. Read a draft of a story you wrote titled 'Death of a Door to Door Vacuum Salesman.' It's supposed to be satire. Show it to her and laugh together. On the day you move into your new place, get down on one knee. Look at wedding venues. Oh I love this place. So do I, my parents got married here. Take your suit to the dry cleaners. Say I do. Honeymoon in Amsterdam. Tell her you love her. Make two cups of coffee. Add sugar to one. Stir. Take a moment to yourself. On the back of an envelope, scribble down a new story idea. It’s about a writer who has found his place in the world.


March 28, 2022 09:09

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27 comments

Neala S
13:19 Apr 08, 2022

This is probably the sweetest and genuine thing I've ever read, I love it.

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S. Thomson
13:32 Apr 08, 2022

Wow, thank you so much!!

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Freya Matheson
13:09 Apr 08, 2022

I don't know if I'm just feeling angsty about growing up but I loved this even though it's not the kind of writing I usually love (I'm a flowery language fan). But the way you showed how growing up and changing can be so scary and simple and wonderful and scary with such short sentences was truly perfection. Loved loved loved this.

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S. Thomson
13:32 Apr 08, 2022

Thank you so much!! That really means a lot, and I appreciate you reading all the way through even when it's not really your style. This story is not autobiographical but I did draw on a lot of my own experiences, so I'm really glad that those kind of feelings came through in the finished story.

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Amanda Lieser
03:11 Apr 08, 2022

Hello! I am so glad that I got to read your story as part of the Critique Circles. I agree with the other writers who shared their love of the short, punchy sentences. One thing I really enjoyed was the way you created a timeline out of a story that did not necessarily present one right away. As a cisgender woman I also enjoyed this piece because I think it reflected on some of the themes and expectations of masculinity and the definition of adulthood---specifically, for men. Nice job! I can't wait to read your comments on my story, "Summer ...

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S. Thomson
12:00 Apr 08, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and giving feedback, I really appreciate it. The aspects relating to masculinity were definitely something I worked on, so I'm really glad they came through in the final product. And I loved reading your story, so thank you for that as well!

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Cindy Strube
18:33 Apr 06, 2022

Reminds me of “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten “: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Very clever! The short, basic sentences work perfectly with this story. The growing up process comes through clearly. I like it.

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S. Thomson
09:39 Apr 07, 2022

I have never heard of that one! Thank you for reading and giving feedback, I really appreciate it.

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15:02 Apr 05, 2022

Beautiful. The short sentences and images build up a great tempo, the fragments of life become more than the sum of their parts.

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S. Thomson
09:10 Apr 06, 2022

Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate you reading and giving feedback!

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Zack Powell
16:27 Apr 03, 2022

This is actually brilliant. You've managed to tell the life of a person thoroughly through short, second person imperative sentences. I love how you formatted this. Coming of age indeed, you hit all the rites of passage. The ending sentence is fantastic and ties everything together. Man, I love this piece. Thank you for sharing! P.S. There's a very short story out there called "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid that this reminds me of. If you haven't already, you should give it a read - it's phenomenal.

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S. Thomson
09:19 Apr 04, 2022

Wow, Zack. Thank you so so much for your kind words, I'm so glad you enjoyed this piece! I really appreciate you reading and giving feedback. I'm very proud of it so I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed it too. I read "Girl" back when I was studying creative writing and loved it. There was definitely some of an influence from that story on this one, so well done for picking up on that!

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Kendall Defoe
15:11 Apr 02, 2022

Okay, I like this one. And I did read "Ulysses". Try "Finnegans Wake"? 🤔

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F.O. Morier
19:45 Mar 30, 2022

Wow! Great read! I enjoyed it. No - I love it! Fati

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S. Thomson
08:36 Mar 31, 2022

Thank you!!

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Jon Casper
13:45 Mar 28, 2022

Wow. I LOVE this story! Impressive use of 2nd person. Clever take on the prompt.

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S. Thomson
14:37 Mar 28, 2022

Thank you Jon! I really appreciate that. Thank you for taking the time to read and give feedback.

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Janey El Napier
10:46 Mar 28, 2022

Words can't describe how much I loved this! Though the sentences were short, you still managed to keep this flow and rhythm to the piece that kept me reading and reading until it was suddenly over and I wanted more! I also think it was clever how you separated it into different paragraphs of the different stages of their life whilst still starting it with the same two words (but each time they held a slightly different meaning!). Really phenomenal piece :)

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S. Thomson
11:21 Mar 28, 2022

Thank you!! An idea like this has been bouncing around in my head for a while so it was fun to finally give it a go and write it out. Thank you for reading and giving feedback, I really appreciate it :)

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Janey El Napier
19:58 Mar 28, 2022

Well thanks for posting another great story! I noticed that you haven't been posting for a while so I'm glad that you're back again! Always enjoy reading your stuff :)

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S. Thomson
20:28 Mar 28, 2022

It was writing job applications and then the first few weeks at a new job so it's been crazy! I had written a few rough opening draughts before but I had nothing finished or good enough. It feels good to be back and thank you very much :)

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M. Adikins
01:54 May 29, 2023

Hello! I have to say that I absolutely love this story. I feel like it really captures what it is like to grow up, especially with others' expectations. I have written a part 2 of this but in the wavy brown haired woman's perspective that ends up marrying the narrator. And in my own words of course. If there is any way that I could possibly get it to you for you to read, please let me know!

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S. Thomson
09:02 May 29, 2023

Hi! Thank you for your kind words, I really appreciate it. And wow, yes, I would love to read your story. Could you email it to me? My email address is samuel.d.a.thomson@gmail.com

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M. Adikins
22:38 May 29, 2023

Shot you an email, hope you enjoy.

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Liam Jensen
23:22 Jun 17, 2022

I love this storey, Ive read it again and again, each time, more ideas in my head. Do you mind if I write my own storey following a near exact pathline. It will have pictures and slightly altered storeyline. I will give credit when it is due. Such as: Written by S. Thomson and L. Jensen. I would love to make this storey into something that more can read

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S. Thomson
12:15 Jun 22, 2022

Possibly, where are you thinking of sharing it. I'm more than happy for you to take inspiration from this story and write your own following the same style, but I would rather you didn't copy any of the words exactly.

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22:30 Apr 29, 2022

This is so different, and so cool. It reminded me a bit of that monologue from Trainspotting, but yours has more hope. It's a really fun take on the prompt, a really interesting style, and had me reading through it with great enthusiasm.

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