Growing Pains

by Sue Ann Connaughton

The lit cigarette was only half-smoked, when Kelly Marie flicked it through a chain link fence that caged off the work zone around the drive-in theater. Pigeons picking through a demolition heap squawked, briefly fluttered upward, and returned to scavenging.


Andrea pressed her face against the fence and winced. “Were you aiming for those birds?”


“Maybe. I don’t like pigeons. They’re pushy. And dirty. They eat trash. Stupid, too, look at that one.” She pointed to a pigeon pecking at a mangled side view mirror that poked up from the debris. “He doesn’t even recognize his own face.”


Kelly Marie hopped up on the hood of a parked car. She unwound a rubber band from her wrist and corralled her hair into a fat ponytail.


Andrea joined her on the car hood. “I heard a merge of the Grand Dukes and the Scorpions gangs is happening Saturday night. My brother said there’s some kind of initiation then the guys will all march together through the city, wearing jackets with their new, top-secret name printed on the back.”


“You have fence dirt on your face.” Kelly Marie used her sleeve to brush off her friend’s forehead. “How come you keep pinching your knees?”


“They’re achy. They always hurt when it’s my time of the month.”


“I hope that doesn’t happen to me.” Kelly Marie shifted her ponytail knot to the side of her head, stretched out on her back, and closed her eyes against the midday sun.


“Life is easier when territories are marked, don’t you think, Kelly Marie? The Grand Dukes rule the northern half of the city and the Scorpions have the south. Everybody knows their place.”




“My brother said the Grand Dukes have the best-looking girlfriends, too—the Duchesses—and he’s not crazy about letting his girl associate with the Scorpions, but he doesn’t have any say about it. The Scorpions call their girls ‘Black Widow Spiders.’ Isn’t that creepy? I wonder what the new name for girlfriends will be.”


Construction workers, back from lunch, cranked up bulldozers and cranes.


“I hate that the drive-in’s being replaced with a parking garage,” Andrea yelled over the noise.




“Kelly Marie, we’ll still hang out after you move to your new house, right?”


“Maybe not as much. My parents want me to get involved with sports and clubs at my new school. They said extracurriculars activities look good on college applications.”


Andrea spit on her index finger and rubbed it into a small section of the car. “Too bad they’re making you go to college. I wonder whose car this is. It needs waxing. My father keeps his nice and shiny. He says it shows pride of ownership.” 


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Writers Bio

Sue Ann Connaughton writes from Salem, Massachusetts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including: Counterexample Poetics; One-Sentence Story Anthology; Barnwood Poetry Magazine; The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts; The Bicycle Review; GlassFire Magazine; You are here: The Journal of Creative Geography; and Fabula Argentea. She blogs about research sources for writers at

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