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Hunting Men

flash fiction in which I play games; lose

By Suze KayPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 2 min read
Top Story - May 2024

There were three reasons to play Manhunt and none of them were winning.

The first was sometimes, when the whole neighborhood played and not just my cousins, if the right kid was on my team, I got to practice kissing. The right kid changed all the time and I wanted to change, too. When he played basketball, I wore high tops. If he skateboarded on the cul-de-sac, I clipped a chain on my wallet. It jangled while we ran, but that was good: it made him want to keep me still.

Once he was a church kid, so I wore a cross. It didn’t get me what I wanted. We were on the same team, but not really. When church kid told me no, I said he wasn’t my type anyway. He raised his eyebrows and laughed even as I wished I hadn’t said it. They found us then because he ran out of our bush, away from me, and I was left stung and sore.

This brings me to the second point of Manhunt, which was to build a thicker skin. The deeper I went into the forest, the longer I could fend off my inevitable loss (or, more importantly, find enough privacy to kiss). But that meant the running back to base was harder and thornier, risked more poison ivy, ended more often than not with skinned knees and battered ankles to match my swollen lips. I had to learn to love to lose; I had to lick my own wounds after.

I only won once, and that was when the third point stuck to me. That night my team was cousins and mouth breathers. None of them the right kids, no kisses in sight. I zipped my black hoodie all the way up over my set-trap tank top. I skirted the shadowed edge of the forest. I read the backs of my enemies. Long before they felt the endgame creeping up, I sprinted to the telephone pole and skidded into it, dodging their groping hands. The secret to winning was becoming invisible.

I didn’t win again – too many kisses to be had – but once I learned to dissolve, I didn’t need the game to do it. I lay in bed and pretended to sleep before sneaking down the dark stairs. That’s how I watched the movies my Dad liked, where women wore lace nighties and tilted their heads up like baby birds. That’s how I stole my first bottle, vodka pilfered from the lights-out kitchen behind my Mom’s back. That’s how I learned about their divorce before they told me. My thick skin helped me not cry when they finally did.

I poured some of the vodka into a water bottle and shared it with the right kid the next time we were on the same team. He was a football player who ignored me in the hallways, but that night I got to tilt my head up like a baby bird. He licked tears off my cheeks. That changed me, too.


About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Expert insights and opinions

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  5. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (23)

  • Esala Gunathilake24 days ago

    Congrats on your victory.

  • P.A. Wilkinson25 days ago

    I like the honesty and integrity of the story. Make me want to play man hunt again lol

  • Anna 30 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Sara about a month ago

    This touched me really deep 🫶🖤

  • Joe O’Connorabout a month ago

    This is so beautiful. There's something about the last line that was so perfect, "That changed me, too." I feel like that speaks volumes in only a few words!

  • Karen Caveabout a month ago

    Suze your tales are like a piece of history, and feel transformative! So beautiful, and sad, and curious, and exciting

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    I could picture everything like a movie, extremely vivid and well written

  • ROCK about a month ago

    This is one of the best, most authentic stories I have read on this platform. You should absolutely get a Top Story. I am sharing this. Keep on the theme a bit longer maybe? 🤔

  • Abdul Qayyumabout a month ago

    Nice writing

  • D. J. Reddallabout a month ago

    This is highly absorbent. How closely linked are becoming invisible and becoming a narrator, in your estimation?

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Tilt head like baby bird was such a good and unique description!!

  • Ricardo de Moura Pereiraabout a month ago

    Very good

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago


  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    This is an excellent tale of adolescence, and feels so real. Well done and congrats on the TS.

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    The way you describe having to express intimacy and “adultness” through childlike games is so interesting! I loved the concept and how real it is/how you tell the story!

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    Ah, the erroneous errors and comprehension of adolescence...and the lessons we learn. I love how you tell that story!

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    Excellent, adolescence in full broiling chaos.

  • Kenny Pennabout a month ago

    Suze you capture real life so amazingly well. I would never have linked manhunt and later teenage debauchery together so perfectly, but you made it seem nothing more than natural. Loved this

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Such a fun story. It took me back to my younger years when we played soccer softball, hide and seek and any number of games in the street. I've always lived in the suburbs so we didn't have the forest to run in and play. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful story.

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    I have always believed that to be a true writer, you have to experience life to its limits - for that is where joy, terror and sadness are found; and you have to vicariously experience those same things in the lives of others. Your writing demonstrates all of that and more with deceptive ease, as if telling the truth about life and the world is simply second nature. You are a wonderful storyteller, Suze. It's both a wonder and a joy to read your words.

  • Alivia Varvelabout a month ago

    Damn, Suze! I just love your writing so much. This is excellent. In such a short span of words, you take us through childhood to adolescence and that final loss of innocence. You are so masterful.

  • Belleabout a month ago

    Beautifully written, Suze. Writing without seams, as if effortless. ❤️

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    I simply love your writing. Your stories speak truths to me with words that my life remembers when they come along, like the thoughts that weren't yet here.

Suze KayWritten by Suze Kay

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