–– Loser ––
Penny loses things. It is her singular talent. She has lost socks, hair pins, pencils. She’s lost six left gloves and three right ones. When she was six, she lost her scarf at the aquarium. When she was eight, she lost her front teeth in a rollerblading accident. When she was sixteen, she lost her first driver’s license and when she was eighteen, she lost her second.
When she was nineteen, she lost her virginity in her boyfriend’s dorm room on an extra-long twin mattress with no sheet. Her mother said she’d lost her innocence. Her priest said she’d lost her way.
She’s lost buttons, car keys, her balance, her moral center. In high school, she lost her religion. In college, she lost her mother. Once, she lost her voice for an entire week. She can’t count the times she’s lost her train of thought, but she often wonders where it goes.
She’s lost things in malls and in restaurants, in transit and in translation. She lost years of her life to dating the wrong men. She lost one boyfriend to alcohol, one to a better job, one to a better woman. She lost two babies—one after the other. When she thinks about them, she worries she’s losing her marbles.
There’s also a list of things she’s found, though, in truth, she’s lost track. But here’s one: After so many years of losing things, she’s found it’s amazing how one can keep on. That you can be so sure you could never live without something. And then when it’s gone, you find you have no choice but to go on living. Almost as if there’s nothing left to lose at all.
AUBREY HIRSCH is the author of Why We Never Talk About Sugar (Braddock Ave. Books) and This Will Be His Legacy (The Lettered Streets Press). Her work has appeared in journals like Third Coast, Hobart, The Collagist, PANK and elsewhere. She currently lives in Pittsburgh where she teaches creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
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