The start of it all. Both of us thirteen. Running through orchards hung with peaches as big as your fist. You’d nip the skin of the fruit and laugh when juice burst in your face, collected in droplets on your chin. Afternoons painted colors of marmalade and spices—those were the days we laid under trees, our baskets filled with the day’s harvest, the seasons of peaches and yams blurring together. This is a place I remember through taste; when I bite into the warmth of a peach pie, I see the wrought iron gate, the path to the door led under curved branches of autumn trees.

Back there, in that orchard, is where you came and left my life as quick as a breath.



You and your mother rented the granny flat behind our house, down the dirt road from the “town” that was nothing more than a cluster of five buildings. Still, you always dressed as if you were about to set out on an adventure: boots laced to the point of restricting your blood flow, satchel stuffed with a compass and a pocketknife and who knows what, your newsboy cap secured on your head. That day, we were off to the pond to catch crawdads.

Oliver Reimers

Oliver Reimers is a writer from Sacramento, California. His work has been featured in Prime Number Magazine and is upcoming elsewhere. His one-act play Something to Talk About won a gold prize at the 2023 Lenaea Theater Festival.

Patrick Ryan on “Eleven Things You Don’t Remember”

What’s the most challenging thing about teen friendships? “Everything!” you might respond. For me, it was the knowledge that I was going to be separated from a lot of my friends once we started scattering off to different places. And the fact that we were all inching toward adulthood without really knowing what that was going to be like. And the fact that I was starting to have crushes on some of my friends. Okay, it was all challenging—every bit of it.

The new issue of One Teen Story is one of the winners of our Teen Writing Contest. It’s called “Eleven Things You Don’t Remember,” and it’s about a teen friendship that has fallen out of alignment. It’s also about longing and letting go. When I read it, I was drawn to its mysterious sense of place and to the quiet melancholy emanating from the page. But what really won me over was the emotional complexity it manages to render in just a few short pages.

Oliver Reimers, author of “Eleven Things You Don’t Remember,” is a talented young writer you won’t soon forget. One Teen Story is proud to be publishing this contest-winning story.

Q&A by Patrick Ryan

PR: Where did you get the idea for “Eleven Things You Don’t Remember”?
OR: I initially got the idea for the title, and I shaped the story around it. This is a lot different than how I normally write, because I usually write the story and then agonize over titling it. I got the idea for the setting from the atmosphere of the soundtrack to the TV show Over the Garden Wall, and I wanted to have the same sort of feeling in my story. Another thing that really influenced me was something I had read from the author Ocean Vuong, where he described a lot of queer stories often ending in some sort of escape to the urban as a form of salvation, rather than finding salvation in the rural or suburban. I thought that dichotomy was an interesting concept, and I wanted to explore that in my story.
PR: How long did the story take you to write?
OR: It probably took around a week, including editing.
PR: What part of the writing did you find the most challenging?
OR: For this specific story, I had trouble figuring out the actual plot. I knew I wanted there to be eleven scenes to justify the title, but I didn’t know how to really connect them besides the atmosphere. I cycled through a couple of completely different ideas, then settled on this one. Once I decided what I wanted to do with the story, everything came relatively easily.
PR: Why did you choose to tell the story by having one character address the other? Did you ever consider telling it another way? In third-person, for example? Or as a first-person narrative, addressed to the reader?
OR: I chose to have it told this way because the connection between the two characters is the core of the story. It felt natural to have the narrator address the other character. I never considered telling it another way, because this specific point of view feels inherent to the title, which I came up with first. I don’t think any other way would capture the connection between the characters.
PR: Did anything surprise you as you wrote the story? Did you make any discoveries about your characters, or about writing?
OR: I think the most surprising thing came after finishing the story, which is that I ended up liking it. I didn’t like this story for months after I wrote it, because I thought it felt too similar to my other work. However, after reading it again to prepare for publication, I found a lot of things I enjoyed about this story and aspects I hadn’t really given myself credit for. I guess I discovered that I’m my own worst critic, but everyone already tells me that.
PR: Do you imagine these characters crossing paths again, somewhere down the road?
OR: I don’t see that happening. I think the story captures the specific, brief moment in time in which these characters knew each other. A lot of the emotion in the story comes from the narrator’s longing for the memories he recounts in this story and the knowledge that there’s some sort of finality to them. He can never return to them, partially because they’ll never see each other again.
PR: If you had to finish this sentence in one word, what would that word be?  “‘Eleven Things You Don’t Remember’ is about __________.”
OR: Longing. Most of the story centers around the characters longing for something they can’t have: a different life, another person, the past. It was one of the core ideas I drew from while writing this story.
PR: What did you do when you found out you were one of our Teen Writing Contest Winners?
OR: I jumped around the house at 6:00 AM, shouting, “I’m a winner!” Then my mom said, “Yes you are,” and didn’t question why I was saying that. Then I told her what I’d won, and then I told everyone else, and we were all very happy.
PR: What are you working on now?
OR: A lot of things. I recently discovered I love writing plays, so I have a lot of those in the works. I’m also experimenting with writing a screenplay. I hope to start working on another novel, but I’ve been taking a break from those for a while to work on plays and short stories. My favorite project I’m currently working on is a play about an autistic teenager trying to connect to the world through classic rock. It’s a lot more light-hearted and fun than what I normally write, so I’m really enjoying it. It also gives me an excuse to talk about David Bowie, so that’s another bonus.
PR: What’s the best piece of advice about writing you’ve ever heard?
OR: When I was nine, one of my favorite authors had cited the Toni Morrison quote, “If there's a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it,” as an inspiration for their series. That quote has stuck with me ever since, and I try to use that mindset to guide what a write.