by Kayla Jessop

As a child, Hangman was my sister’s favorite game. As children, she’d make me play it with her until I was too tired to guess letters, too exhausted from the constant swinging. Last summer, my sister played with ropes, learning how to form the perfect fastening. She spent the season researching their origins, learning to form multiple knots, and practicing the sturdiest tie. She owned different types of cords—polyester, polypropylene, and nylon. Her favorite was manila. Each night at dinner, she’d plague the table with facts about the twine. Most nooses are made from manila, she’d tell in between bites of potatoes. They’re built for heavy weights and sudden movements. Afraid her new obsession had become too sinister, my mother introduced knitting instead. But yarn is too weak, she cried. Before the ropes, she favored playing with pills. My mother, too tired of IVs, even hid vitamins in the house, knowing my sister would take handfuls if given the chance. This summer, my sister haunts our home. In her bedroom, long untouched and buried in despair, the ghost of her lifeless frame sways from the ceiling fan, supported by a thirteen-knot noose. Her ghost spins. The only noise in the room is the creaking of the tied manila and the stress of the ceiling fan. Twelve knots around her neck for each attempt—one knot for her success. Still, the yarn sits on the dusty dresser, wrapped perfectly. 

Kayla Jessop has her MFA from Lindenwood University. Her essays have been published in a variety of award-winning literary magazines including Harpur Palate, Blood Orange Review, Eastern Iowa Review, Welter, and Broad River Review to name a few. She does her best writing while sitting in coffee shops and daydreaming about possibilities.