artwork by @ernio_art

A life in timeline.

a collaboration by 36 writers

This is the story of a woman.

Told year by year.

In less than 750 words.

Age 1 (—Tamyka Bell)
She proudly stood on her own two feet.

Age 2 (—Dan Belmont)
She learned to say hello, but not goodbye.

Age 3 (—Carina Sitkus)
Taught mum to stop and smell the flowers.

Age 4 (—Elizabeth Helmich)
Her imagination wisped between butterfly wings and sunglow.

Age 5 (—Crooked Little Flower)
Crying uncontrolled; one front door to another.

Age 6 (—Tom Farr)
She learned that trust is easy to lose.

Age 7 (—Rahul Misra)
She decided she liked sunrises more than sunsets.

Age 8
Made her biggest birthday candle wish ever.

Age 9 (—Gemma Kennedy)
She hated the freckles dusting her cheeks.

Age 10 (—Indira Reddy)
She felt the pain of ridicule, of otherness.

Age 11 (—Nicole Valentine)
She recognized a moral failing in her parents.

Age 12 (—Crooked Little Flower)
Awakened; life is a mystery within the amnesia.

Age 13 (—Gemma Kennedy)
She made her own luck.

Age 14 (—Stella J. McKenna)
That age when teenage girls resent their mothers.

Age 15 (—Elizabeth Helmich)
Softening her exhale, she fell backwards into possibility.

Age 16 (—Gloria DiFulvio)
She kissed a girl who rocked her world.

Age 17 (—Rachel B. Baxter)
She discovered an album that changed her life.

Age 18 (—Rahul Misra)
She found Paris and Paris found her.

Age 19 (—Wild Flower)
His gentle touch reminded her good men exist.

Age 20
Began running as a meditation, reading for exercise.

Age 21 (—Ryan Hussey)
She graduated from college and vodka.

Age 22 (—Noha Medhat)
She wrestled with the wristlets of pain.

Age 23 (—marika bianca)
She met the love of her life.

Age 24 (—marika bianca)
She let him go.

Age 25 (—Tre L. Loadholt)
She learned to live without hating herself.

Age 26 (—Stella J. McKenna)
A new love and respect for her mother.

Age 27 (—Indira Reddy)
First career milestone met and passed.

Age 28 (—Tasneem Kagalwalla)
A mother was born.

Age 29 (—Stella J. McKenna)
She was reborn, new, self-assured, more alive.

Age 30 (—Heath Houston)
She keenly felt the nostalgia of childhood.

Age 31 (—Jessica Jungton)
She said “no” without an apology or explanation.

Age 32 (—Crooked Little Flower)
Breathing deep within herself she walked for hours.

Age 33 (—Devon Henry)
A chance encounter with an old friend.

Age 34 (—Sravani Saha)
She wanted another child. It was never born.

Age 35 (—Sravani Saha)
She grieved alone. She lived on.

Age 36 (—Tom Farr)
She hoped no one would ever find out.

Age 37 (—Ryan Hussey)
She celebrated her birthday a day late.

Age 38 (—Lizella Prescott)
She planted azaleas and watered them with tears.

Age 39 (—Elizabeth Helmich)
Layers peel. Lemon glow of her essence, unveiled.

Age 40 (—Alexandro Chen)
She was spell checking her suicide letter.

Age 41 (—Gemma Kennedy)
She marveled in the scenery over the hill.

Age 42 (—Tamyka Bell)
She rediscovered the childlike joy she’d long forgotten.

Age 43 (—Michael Stalcup)
Weekly azaleas for mum — her favorite, remembered.

Age 44 (—Ryan Hussey)
She became an orphan.

Age 45 (—Tasneem Kagalwalla)
Drowning in loneliness, she struggled to swim again.

Age 46 (—Jing Jing)
She learned to enjoy a table for one.

Age 47 (—marika bianca)
She wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

Age 48 (—Lizella Prescott)
She stopped saying “never.”

Age 49 (—Meg)
She sensed the hollowness of approval.

Age 50 (—Thaddeus Howze)
Her career outsourced; she had to reinvent herself.

Age 51 (—Indira Reddy)
She stopped counting birthdays; started counting moments lived.

Age 52 (—Sravani Saha)
She learned to love herself. And her life.

Age 53 (—Carina Sitkus)
In rain, rediscovered her love of the woods.

Age 54 (—Jessica Jungton)
She stopped bringing an umbrella wherever she went.

Age 55 (—Michael Stalcup)
A grandmother was born.

Age 56 (—Clay Rivers)
She accepted that she was always enough.

Age 57
Heard the church bells chime and smiled.

Age 58 (—DHBogucki)
Accepted into a creative writing program at university.

Age 59 (—DHBogucki)
Spent a summer abroad traveling all over Japan.

Age 60 (—Stella J. McKenna)
She got that tattoo she always wanted.

Age 61 (—DHBogucki)
Graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts degree.

Age 62
Crossed the finish line at her first marathon.

Age 63
Told her granddaughter her biggest birthday candle wish.

Age 64
Said one last goodbye to an old friend.

Age 65 (—Rahul Misra)
She decided she liked sunsets more than sunrises.

Age 66
Danced and flirted with someone half her age.

Age 67
Stepped in as interim editor at literary magazine.

Age 68 (—Wild Flower)
Watching them play reminded her she should have.

Age 69 (—Kayt Molina)
She stopped saying “sorry.”

Age 70 (—Carina Sitkus)
But reclaimed “yes” instead of “no.”

Age 71
Held her breath during her granddaughter’s valedictorian speech.

Age 72
Took her daughter to Europe, impromptu sabbatical.

Age 73
Took a spill and endured knee surgery.

Age 74
Wrote a book of poems with her granddaughter.

Age 75
She finalized her last will with her daughter.

Age 76 (—Tamyka Bell)
She proudly stood on her own two feet.

Age 77 (—Christopher Daniels)
Rediscovered belly-laughs thanks to the hokey pokey.

Age 78 (—Gloria DiFulvio)
She marched in Washington to save democracy — again!

Age 79 (—S Lynn Knight)
“Where am I? Please — help me. I’m scared.”

Age 80 (—Stephen M. Tomic)
She closed her eyes and finally found rest.

artwork by @ernio_art