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Youth Challenges of Yore by Tara Campbell

Circles by Kayla Bell
March 19, 2018
March 21, 2018

Some young people direct their energies toward education and civic engagement. Others…not so much. But this has always been the case. A recently unearthed parchment reveals that the Tide Pod challenge is only the latest phase of a long history of young people pursuing ill-advised forms of entertainment:

Brazen bull challenge—see who can remayne the longest insyde an iron bull over an open fyre. Ensure that one of thy party keepeth tyme with an hourglass. Tell thy sire thou goest over to a freinde’s house to roast a boar so he doth not become suspicious when thou beginnst collecting firewood.

Plague huffing—thou and thyne companions shall stand o’er the bed of a cousyn with the Black Death, then he who taketh the biggest breythe shall be determyned the stoutest of heart.

Iron maiden challenge—give thy teachers to know that thou studyst the judicial system, then go down to the dungeone and tryest out the iron maiden. See if thou art bold enough to withstand having the devyse shut utterly closed upon your personne.

Bellows bombing—waitest thou until the blacksmythe turns his back, then place the nozzle into thy mouthe and have your companion to squeeze the handles so hard as possible.

Racking—this one is verily bad-asse, and shall grant thee a few extra inches of heyte. If thy sire queries about thy sudden change in stature, tell him thou hadst a growth spurte.

Thumb screw challenge—hire a craftsman to make some wond’rous before-and-anon prints of your hands to shew to playfellowes.

Oxcart challenge—beseech your friende to totally run you over in their oxcart, like to and fro a few times. By troth, tis verily awesome and thou willst be famouse.

Tara Campbell ( is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, b(OINK), Booth, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Strange Horizons, and FIVE:2:ONE. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, and her collection, Circe’s Bicycle, will be released in spring 2018.