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As teenagers, we used to smoke together under the old oak tree on the village green. You would light my cigarette for me and take one, long drag before handing it over. It glowed like a candle. I miss that.



About Donna-Louise Bishop

I'm a writer, freelance reporter, creative writing tutor, and blogger, living in the beautiful county of Norfolk UK. In my spare time I am also a wife, a mother to three boys, and a human washing machine.
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33 Responses to Youth

  1. Lisa Shaw says:

    This was lovely to visualize, Donna-Louise. ❤

  2. Asha Rajan says:

    I really like how you’ve packed in so much regret and ennui into so few words. Using a ubiquitous, familiar scene was a clever way to bring the reader into the story quickly. Nicely done.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Thank you. I was determined to make the oak tree work! I must have rewritten this piece 100 times to make 40 words work 😂

      • Asha Rajan says:

        We convince ourselves that a short word count means that it’ll be easy to write, but it’s the complete opposite, no? Keeping only the most useful, meaning-conveying words, and discarding the rest is such a challenge.

      • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

        I am so feeling the love from posting this piece. Much special thanks to you xxxx

  3. This has a clear wistfulness. I wonder which your narrator misses most, youth, smoking or the boy.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      In my head I think it’s the boy buy actually you’re right… There’s a lot the narrator could be missing.

  4. Shailaja V says:

    The whole sense of missing- something/someone- is captured beautifully. I believe there’s something to be said for packing so much into so little. And the effortless use of the prompt is excellent.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Wow thanks for those kind words! I’m glad it came across effortless because I was tearing my hair out for most of the afternoon over it 😂

  5. anusrini20 says:

    You’ve captured a bittersweet feeling so well.

  6. That “long drag” was a great visual. I think it “slowed” things down. Of course, since I hardly see anyone smoke anymore, it really stood out to me as a memory.
    You might have squeezed out a word or two more by deleting “tree” (oak is enough to infer) and contract “you would”; “for me” also not needed.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      I toyed with taking out tree so many times but I decided I loved how it sounded too much to murder that darling 😂

  7. iasoupmama says:

    This has a nice haze of nostalgia (or maybe it’s just the cigarette smoke).

  8. Sara says:

    I love this story, so unique and I like the cigarette glowing like a candle.

  9. innatejames says:

    yeah, this does hinge nicely on the last sentence. You don’t have to explain the relationship here; we get it all from those three words. My only suggestion would be to reconsider the comparison of the light of a candle flame (yellow) and the light of an ember (red). They aren’t the same unless the cigarette is on fire. Picky, I know, but the rest of this is very strong.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Damn. I was trying to focus on the glow, not the colour, but now that you’ve said that it’s totally bugging me 😣

  10. So melancholy. I love it.

  11. d3athlily says:

    You packed so much into this piece. There were so many layers to it, from relationship to the memory of those little moments to the vivid description. Love your work, DL!

  12. Cyn K says:

    My favorite part is the pacing of “one, long drag.”

  13. krentner says:

    This piece feels effortless compact, like it never needed to be more than 40 words. The pacing slows us down at the end (with the shorter sentences) to linger on your last thought, and you show us specific pictures. Very neat!

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  15. This piece had such nostalgia. I got a clear sense of where your narrator was and ideas of where they are now. It felt complete and open ended at the same time. One thing that I noticed on a re-read was the vividness of the “village green”. It may only be because I’m headed to Boston next week and it’s so cold right now, but my mind went to Paul Revere. Perhaps if you added another specific color somewhere like the color of the ember? The green just seemed so vivid to me.

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