by Kaycie Hall
Kaycie Hall is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn, NY by way of Jackson, MS and Paris, France. She is currently an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at Bennington. Her work has appeared in Entropy, Neutral Spaces, Triangle House Review, and Autofocus.
Things I Have Lost
I have to imagine that at some point in my life I had an accent, one that proved I’d grown up just outside of Jackson, Mississippi. Over the years I trained myself to say “you guys” instead of “y’all.” I didn’t like remarks about where I was from. Now, though, I don’t like the remarks of “wow you have no accent at all.”
two babies, maybe three
In 2020 I lost two babies, one after another, before they grew enough to even look like little humans. Months later, I went to the bathroom and a puddle of blood fell out of me. With a splat, it hit the tile floor and sat there, gelatinous and dark. “Bryan!” I called. My husband came running. “Bryan, what if that was another one?”
I say that I “lost” my virginity because that’s the phrase the collective we decided to employ, but I guess it’s more that I gave it away because I was tired of holding on to it. If I could have it again, I’d have given it away even sooner, but to someone else. I’d have given it to the first boy I ever loved, so I guess this one is more of a lost opportunity.
multiple copies of the book Little, Big by John Crowley
It seems I have lost one copy of this book for every apartment that I’ve ever lived in. I have never read it. I just ordered a new one, and I plan to keep a watchful eye on it.
I always wanted a sister. My mom had two. My husband’s sister was once kind to me, explaining Jewish traditions and asking me for book recommendations. Twice over the years I asked her to dinner, just the two of us, though the invitations were never returned. In good faith I made her a bridesmaid in my wedding. Our relationship grew into forced smiles at family dinners. In therapy I would cry and ask “but why doesn’t she like me?” until finally my therapist said “look at this person and ask why WOULD she like you? And why would you want her to?”
compact mirror, fortune
For nearly ten years, I carried a compact mirror in my bag. I’d found it in a little shop in Florence or Venice—I can’t remember which. It had tan and red marbled paper on the outside and opened to a mirror with space to store something small. Often I used it for guitar picks and bobby pins, sometimes a spare pill of some kind. In it I also carried a tiny slip of paper, a fortune from a Chinese dinner, that said “The person closest to you is special.”
I never knew if it meant the person physically closest to me at that moment or the person closest to my heart. Maybe both. The marbled paper on the mirror eventually wore away and then both it and the fortune, sensing it was someone else’s time to carry them, disappeared from my bag.
In my worst episodes of depression, I find myself unable to read. I can choose a book, hold it in my hands. I can look at the words but my brain refuses to understand them. I read that both Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf were unable to read when they were depressed. In her suicide letter to her husband, Woolf wrote “You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read.” It’s a cruel trick of the mind, to not allow even this one escape.
a class ring
When I graduated from high school, I wanted a class ring, a huge hulk of medal proclaiming I’d gone to Northwest Rankin High School until 2006. My father advised against it. “You won’t really want that later,” he said. “I’ll get you something nice instead.” On his lunch break, he took me to a tiny jeweler in a strip mall on Lakeland Drive. I picked a silver ring with an ice blue stone.
My mom died when I was 15, but I arguably lost her some years before that, when she lost herself.
I grew up with a family tradition, carried out by my mother’s side; it involved my mother’s dead great aunt’s hair, known simply as “the hair.” The hair was found by one of my mother’s sisters when they’d been recruited by my grandfather to help sort through his dead aunt’s belongings. My aunt opened a black leather purse and pulled out a single long braid of dark hair. “Ewwww!” she shrieked and her siblings came running to see what she’d found. My mother took the hair and its leather purse, and a few years later mailed it to her sister, innocently wrapped as a Christmas gift. Every year after that you never knew when it might arrive at your house, wrapped in cheerful paper for Christmas or a birthday. After my mom died, the hair disappeared.
I comb through sparse journal entries, old emails and gchats, searching for something to fill in the holes in my recollections. I did not anticipate the events of my life seeping out of my brain so quickly, before I could ever commit them to a page.