There Is No Advice I’d Give to My 16-Year-Old Self

by Sabrina Hicks

Honorable Mention – Flash 405, August 2023: “Secret”

An image of a skinned knee accompanies Sabrina Hicks's experimental 'There Is No Advice I'd Give to My 16-Year-Old Self', which won honorable mention in a Flash 405 contest judged by L Mari Harris

Because I wouldn’t have skinned knees, raced cars in a swallow of city lights, tipped cows in a pasture gutted with the spill of a harvest moon. Because I wouldn’t have felt a coyote’s breath or the spring of snakes, danced around fires in deserts with a stumble of kids like me (nothing like me), climbed electrical towers, red Solo cup between my teeth, bitter beer running down my neck, all wanting out but not knowing where, waiting for sirens, waiting to be seen then unseen. Because rage and hope go together and there is no self without self-loathing. Because youth is falling, a pitch sailing towards light. It’s all timing, timing, timing. Because telling myself not to worry about that boy or that boy wouldn’t have led to the boy. Because the men I knew wouldn’t have listened. Because all the secrets I kept are still worth keeping. Because how would I know that to love myself required walking into the ocean and drowning the takes and retakes it took to get there. Because I had no money to buy Apple. Because I never knew how to save a life. Because I would have told myself to kindly fuck off.



Judge’s Comments:
This piece packs such an emotional punch. Adolescence is a universal hell we all endure, one way or another. Such resonant imagery is used throughout, propelling us, not just along with the narrator, but also along our own memory banks for those of us who are well past being sixteen. But that uncertainty, confusion, and yes, rage, are easily brought to the forefront of our memories all over again. It’s a wonder any of us survives those years. And that ending! We all know that we wouldn’t have listened to our older selves, telling us to relax, it’ll all be OK. I, too, would have told myself to fuck off. I’ll bet we all would have.

Sabrina Hicks lives in Arizona with her family. Her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions, Best Micro Fiction, and Wigleaf’s Top 50, as well as numerous journals, both online and in print. More of her stories can be found at

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Photo by Markus Spiske