Cover Photo: Tallulah Pomeroy
Tallulah Pomeroy

After the Playground

I wanted someone to play with, but I wanted to create the rules.

But as a child, I was often confused about what to do with toys, what playing with them would entail. I was disinterested in the cause-and-effect implicit in the baby doll someone gave me which, when you poured water in its mouth, would yellow the plastic diaper with fake pee. Instead I favored sand and gravel and park structures where recreation did, in fact, correspond with recreating your orientation within space. Tag is not what I’m talking about. I preferred playground play to playground games. Games have rules, constraints, winners, losers. They are often accompanied by some disciplinary gaze, either within or without, demanding a particular orientation or conduct toward other players.



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Tracy O'Neill is the author of The Hopeful. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree and was awarded the Center for Fiction's Emerging Writers Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in Granta, LitHub, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Literarian, Narrative, and Guernica. O'Neill's nonfiction has been published in The Atlantic, the New Yorker, Bookforum, The Guardian and Rolling Stone online; in VQR, Grantland, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She teaches at the City College of New York. Website: