“Onions in the Tea Garden” from AS FAR AS YOU CAN GO BEFORE YOU HAVE TO COME BACK by Alle C. Hall, Black Rose Writing

As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back by Alle C. Hall

Black Rose Writing, 2023

Author’s Note

This excerpt takes place at the tail end of the 90s, and picks up a third of the way through the novel. The first-person narrator is Carlie—a seventeen-year-old incest survivor who steals $10,000 and runs away to Asia. Over six months of travel, the Lonely Planet path of hook-ups, heat, alcohol, and drugs takes on a terrifying reality to the young survivor. In Thailand, Carlie is taken under the wing of the Japanese-American Cho Yamashita. After they travel together, Cho invites Carlie to visit her in Tokyo, where Cho is a high-up in her family’s department store chain. (Trigger warnings for smoking cigarettes, bulimia, compulsive overeating, anorexia, references to alcoholism.)

It was super hard not drinking on the plane, Bangkok to Tokyo. Probably because I left my cigarettes in the boarding area in Bangkok. As soon as lightly-accented English announced that the in-flight beverage service was ending, I couldn’t stop myself, I chowed down on the peanuts I’d managed to avoid throughout the flight.

Narita Airport—an orderly haze of white tile. I passed through Japanese Immigration and Customs—Mother Mary, was that beer in a vending machine? Swiftly, I looked to buy some Camels. Six dollars. I settled for a random brand, about three bucks, and found a pay phone. I dialed Cho at the department store. A moment later, she was in my ear with, “Hey, girl! Boy, I’d love to—but I’m going into a budget meeting. Write this down.”

Cho interrupted herself with a cough, and then fired off the instructions to get me to a train station in Tokyo, “Oo-way-no. West Gate, two hours. Ask for the nishi guchi. Write it down.”

I had the startling desire to embrace her. Funny, in all the time we spent traveling together, we never once hugged. I wanted to, when we parted in Bangkok, but—no. Too—something.

In the long line for the ticket to Oo-way-no, I nearly panicked with the understanding that the train—spelled U-e-n-o—was going to cost me nearly fifty bucks. And that was for the local. I hadn’t spent fifty dollars on transportation for the two months I was in Thailand. For an hour, overcast sky and patches of green and brown earth crept by, smooth green hills in the distance. I wanted more peanuts. The acres of tilled earth gave way to towns, a metropolis, and eventually, Ueno Station.

There were a zillion people. There was the rumble of mass transit, a diesel smell, all familiar reminders of Southeast Asia with two notable exceptions: the crisp air and beers in vending machines. I consulted my scribbles and asked a uniformed guard for the nishi guchi. The West Gate. I expected large, wooden, and red. Turned out to be normal turnstiles. Leaning my backpack against a post, I had a not-Camel, wishing I was wearing warm shoes instead of sandals, and watching well-dressed men wearing gray or black suits and carrying briefcases—had to be the proverbial Japanese salarymen—and fewer women in dark blue or black; they formed an endless sentence punctuated by neon green pay phones. After a smoke-long epoch, one of the purposeful, passing Japanese broke away from the sentence with a brisk stride and a familiar, “Girl!”

I didn’t expect Cho to embrace me quite so hard or for as long as she did. I didn’t expect it to feel like a home.

Despite her openhearted greeting, Cho was silent as we pressed our way through many people and then more people to the mobbed sidewalk. She hailed a taxi. The driver had on white gloves. We inched through a congested shopping street, storefronts as well as open-air stalls. Not a single jaywalker. Cho lit a smoke and used it to light one for me. As the neighborhood became department stores and high-rises, Cho pointed out the post office, the natural foods store; who but Cho could locate a natural foods store among the high-rises of Tokyo? Her fingers beat a moody rat-tat-tat against her briefcase—a sound directly contrasting the confidence of her maroon nail polish.

I said, “Man, I saw beer in vending machines.”

Cho coughed. Then, “Boy, do I let office bullshit get to me.”

Cho spoke to the driver, who somehow squeezed his vehicle down an eensy side street. The high-rises disappeared, replaced by Japanese-style homes, their gray-tilted roofs triangular and regal against the gray-blue sky. At Cho’s command, the driver halted before a simple wooden gate. Behind it, a stone path through bushes and trees, a dreamland in the chilly mist, even a short, rounded stone lantern so self-effacing that I almost tripped over it—and didn’t mind.

Cho slid to the side a set of exterior doors. I followed her in. The entryway was eight by ten feet. A staircase led off to the left, a hallway to the right. Copying Cho, I removed my sandals, placing them with the toes pointing toward the front door. Felt so Japanese. We padded down the cold hall—no central heating in old Japanese houses, Cho explained—past several sets of paper-thin sliding doors that Cho told me opened into the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Pushing the next set to the side with a satisfying whoosh, she brought me into the soft light bathing what was now my room. It smelled of warm hay. Half the floor was inlaid with straw mats. The other half was dark, shining wood. In the center of the room rested a low, rectangular table. Sliding the doors closed behind us, Cho informed me the table was a kotatsu. She opened the closet with another whoosh. “Futon! Girl, you look freezing.”

She pulled out a thick quilt. I expected to wrap myself in it. Instead, Cho removed the top of the low table, revealing short legs that held up the outline of a square that used to support the top.

“Spread the futon over the frame,” Cho said. I did, and she replaced the top. The ko-toast-o or whatever was now skirted. She reached under. There was a click followed by the electric hum of a heater.

“Ko-tat-su,” Cho corrected me. As with the shoes, I followed her lead—I had a feeling I was going to be doing a lot of that—fitting my lower body into the warmth beneath the futon.

“My grandmother made these,” Cho said, stroking the pattern of red, pink, and peach against a tender blue. “As soon as they were released from Minidoka.”

I hadn’t realized that the American side of Cho’s family was put in those camps, during World War Two. I didn’t know what to say, so I asked for some tea. 

Cho banged around the kitchen. “ . . . can’t believe I’m making you tea when this morning, I nearly threw a cup at the old fart who told me to make—” Slam, boom. In my room, clean lines and the smell of warm straw. “The board treats me as if—yet who raised revenues at least forty-seven percent each year for the past five yea—” 

A whoosh brought Cho into the room. “They touch themselves. Before negotiations. Got my price list, got my calculator, got my dick.”

“Do they check after meeting with you?”

Futon-soft Japanese made us look at the sliding-open doors. Cho introduced my new landlady. Under five feet tall; face a mass of folds; a full head of hair, pure white and wispy. Cho had to walk me through the syllables of her name: Ka-shi-wa-ba-ra. And a “-san” on the end, for propriety’s sake. She had the whole upper floor.

“Though she does tend to saunter throughout,” Cho said, patting my arm. “Excuse me. I have to make a work call.”

As the week progressed, Cho worked most of the time. Of ten alone, I smoked on the back porch—the only place in the house our vice was allowed—one afternoon watching a storm bejeweling the round stone lanterns, bringing with it a longing for, beach breezes, cute backpacker guys, a cold beer any time I wanted one, and inexpensive travel. A tally of the yen spent since the outlay to get to Ueno Station came to just over a thousand: two packs of Camels from the vending machine down the hill; I caved. Lighting up, I eyeballed side streets of wood-and-paper restaurants emitting savory scents and a main street of busy bars. No no no. On Sunday night, I poked my head into Cho’s room. She looked up from the stack of papers she was analyzing, a warrior with a pen at her deep red desk.

“Cho? I think . . . I mean, I’m itchy. You know.”

She removed her glasses. “Sounds like a yeast infection.”

I hated the sound of that. “How would I know?”

Her expression changed to light confusion. “Surely you’ve had . . . how old are you, again?” 


Cho flipped through her Rolodex. “Right. Go see my gynecologist, Imura. Her English is great, and Japan has socialized medicine, so it won’t cost you anything. Do you use protection?”

“Protection?” I sense myself inching toward the ceiling.


“Condoms?” I was gone.

Cho placed her glasses on the desk. “Carlie, you’ve been having unprotected sex.”

“I guess.” When Cho inhaled with alarm, I rushed in, “I know you’re not supposed to . . . it’s just . . .” What are you supposed to do? Ask the guy?

“You’re lucky you’ve never gotten preg—hold it. You could be pregnant.”

I didn’t need a symposium from anyone about how one becomes pregnant. “I don’t get my period.” I was, proudly, too thin to get a period. “Like, four times in my whole life.”

“And you slept with that Israeli guy in Thailand, when?”

“Like, a month ago.”

Cho returned her glasses to her nose. “Then how do we know you’re not pregnant?”

I turned away, only to hear her say, “And, Carlie? When you see Imura, ask for an AIDS test.”

Dr. Imura was probably in her late forties. Square face, a bit plumper than most Japanese females I’d seen so far, all of whom appeared reed-thin and gorgeous. I described my symptoms, and she inquired how long it’d been since my last OB exam. Naturally, her next question was “How long have you been sexually active?” 

I decided to answer, “I was twelve.”

A penciled-in eyebrow went up. “Do you use prophylactic?”

“I’m beginning to think that would be a good idea.”

She closed my chart. “We must do several tests. First”—she handed me a plastic cup and sent me to the bathroom to collect a urine sample for the pregnancy test. Ick. Once again in the exam room, Dr. Imura had me on the table, legs spread—but my father, he; I can’t—feet in stirrups, bottom half covered with a white sheet. I disappeared into a similarly milky blur as Dr. Imura explained the pelvic exam, which involved “putting speculum inside vagina.” She held up a nasty-looking metal thing.

“Mother of God.” I became aware that Dr. Imura was poking around down Virginia way but I was blessedly numb until I heard something like, “A-ra!” 

My mind leapt to the strings of headless ducks I’d seen hanging in Chinatowns across Asia. I was a dead duck.

Dr. Imura came out from under. “You have condyloma.”

“Is that Japanese or English?”

“That is human papilloma virus. Vaginal warts.” 

“Oh, man.” Then, “Am I going to die?”

“We can treat. I will burn off with solution including trichloroacetic acid. Sadly, it is very painful.”

“Very painful” does not begin to describe having warts burned off anywhere, let alone the region in question. Dr. Imura finished. I sat up. “I will never have sex again.”

With a serious face, Dr. Imura set up to draw blood to test for AIDS and a couple other choice diseases. A nurse popped in. I was officially not pregnant. I hardly had the chance to rejoice. Dr. Imura was instructing me to return in a week for my second treatment. Given a certain throbbing condition, it took me a moment to fully get it.

“Wait. Second treatment?”

“I must burn again any warts that have grown back. After that, if you do not have intercourse with infected person, they should not return. Also for next visit, we will have all test results.” 

On the back porch with Cho. Our smoke melted into the fog floating through the garden. She was telling me how she’d set me up for a job interview at the English conversation school her department store ran. “You’ll start working, you’ll get your test results back. It’ll settle down.”

I was too agitated to listen. “Man, if I’m gonna die, at least I want to know who gave it to me.”

Cho patted my shoulder. “Girl, you’re not going to die from condyloma. The pamphlet said once you’re infected, it takes three months to show.”

“That was Christmastime. Malaysia. It might be . . . oh, what’s-y-hoo-dit, that surfer guy with the baseball hat.”

I heard what I’d said about “some guy” who had been inside me, probably diseased, and broke into tears. Ka-shi-wa-bara-san (Cho helped me through the syllables) chose that moment to join the conversation. Her stiffness implied that she would have liked to offer comfort but had no idea how. Look at her perfect garden. She would never get it. When my squall subsided, the landlady loaned me her hanky. 

Cho said, “Girl, I’m freezing. I gotta go inside.”

“I’m gonna have one more,” I said, reaching for my pack. Kashi-wabara-san gestured for me to stop. She led me through moist, low bushes to the back wall, where she pointed out several thin plants growing about a foot high. Then she gestured as if chopping with a knife. “Negi.”

I leaned down to sniff. Green onions.  “Negi,” I repeated.

My landlady set her lips with a gravity that brought to mind Dr. Imura. She returned me to the porch and was off before I realized I had no clue what she meant.

Test-result day. Armed with a color-coded map of the subway system, I took the dark blue Mita Line to the gray Hibiya Line. Transferring at the underground quagmire called Hibiya Station took twenty minutes longer than expected, as four subways rolled in and half the women in the station seemed to be wearing kimono and clicky-clacky wooden sandals, both of which made them walk super slowly. Lots of boys, too, wearing half-kimono over navy-blue shorts. In perfectly clear English, a kimono’d lady who volunteered to help me find the Hibiya Line explained that today was a holiday called Boys’ Day.  

Did not seem auspicious for my purposes. 

Worse, brightly wrapped mini bars of chocolate, stacks of it, shone like bullion from a kiosk counter.

I don’t eat chocolate.

In the examination room, Dr. Imura greeted me with such normalcy that my doom was beyond question. She promptly said, “Remaining tests, negative.”

Well! I was up in the stirrups in no time. “Only two,” said Dr. Imura from under the sheet. The pain sent me above, where I contemplated which convent to commit myself to. Definitely a Buddhist one.

When Imura was done, she sat me at the edge of the exam table with a hand mirror and showed me how to check myself. Not so embarrassing. After all, we all had one—Dr. Imura, Cho. Even Kashiwabarasan had one. 

The doctor leaned on me to, once a week for three months, give the ol’ box a good gander.  “If there is no reoccurrence, you have no need to fear for re-infection. Would you like to see cervix?”

I was not sure what my cervix was. Dr. Imura re-inserted the silver thing. With it snugly in place, I bent down and looked into the mirror. Expecting a gross, hairy mess, it was a surprise to see a pink button with one horizontal and one vertical slit.

This was me.

The core of me.

Clean and pink.

For the first time since my father started in on me, I felt dirt-free. 

I didn’t know I’d felt filthy.

When I was done with my cervix, Dr. Imura loaded me up with condoms and I departed. Standing on the corner of one of the world’s busiest cities, it seemed to me the gray afternoon was so lovely that I couldn’t descend into the subway. My color-coded map indicated that it shouldn’t take too long to walk home.

Tokyo was cement-colored with brown at the edges. New leaves in corners. I ambled down streets and up hills, between tall buildings and through back alleys as quiet as those in any small town. A string of red lanterns and a piquant smell led to a noodle stall where rough-looking men sat on equally rugged benches. A different scent drew me to a corner graveyard crowded with tombstones less than a foot wide, as tall as a person. I breathed in the burnt tenderness of incense.

From that block, a busier street. I took my coat off. Plump ladies in faded pink wraps clucked over customers at their vegetable stalls, and boys, suddenly, little boys churned around me, navy-blue school uniforms with dark blue derbies. As if pinched, their cheeks bore rosy circles, and they chattered and chattered and chattered. 

The next morning was my job interview. Cho hustled me through Shinjuku, a vast train station/shopping arcade—some shops classy, others flashing neon—on the west side of Tokyo. She slowed us up as we approached a brass-trimmed set of glass doors. Posted on either side were two girls a little older than me in identical blue uniforms with caps like flight attendants. They bowed in unison to the throngs passing into the store. Mid-bow, one caught sight of Cho. Her mouth froze in a smile. Then Japanese flooded out. Cho inclined her head modestly. As we barreled through the first floor, every employee we encountered responded the same way—astounded eyes, earnest amounts of Japanese. I asked, “Why are they so nice to you?”

Cho nodded pleasantly to a sales clerk who, it appeared, might faint dead away at the pleasure of seeing her. “I’m a Butch-o-u. Department manager.”

We reached the elevator. Outside it, a different flight attendant pressed the call button. Like, her job? Once inside, still another pressed the necessary buttons and announced each floor as we arrived. Man. Her job. At the twenty-seventh floor, Cho nudged me. Phones jangled as we progressed down the hall. Cho bowed variously: most people got a slight bob of the head or neck, a few qualified for the upper chest. She coached me, “The only people I bow lower to are the kaicho and the shyacho. The kaicho is like the chairman. A Yamashita grandpa has been kaicho since”—she waved her hand near her ear— “boy. Shyacho is the general manager. My uncle. Ah! Imai-san!”

Cho bobbed to a nattily-dressed man she introduced as the Sales Manager. Butch-o-u. Cho’s English to me carried a hint of derision that she masked completely in the face she showed him, and the Japanese she used. Bows ensued as we backed away from each other along the blue hall. 

Cho said, “Next time, you should bow lower. About fifteen degrees shows respect.”

“So, Imai-san outranks you?”

She glowered.

“But you bowed lower than he did!”

“He bowed less than he should have. He’s been out to get me since the first time I was promoted over him. We’re in a dead heat for shyacho.”

I was trying to recall what shyacho was when Cho stopped. Across a frosted glass door, “Achieve English Conversation School” was stenciled in plain black script.

“Achieve English?” I’d rather press elevator buttons.

“Talk to marketing.” With a cough, Cho led me into a neat lobby carpeted dark blue, past a reception desk monitored by four stewardesses with no hats but identical black hair: straight to the mid-back, bangs. Cho told me to address the head teacher we were about to meet, Mrs. Saito, Cho told me to call her sensei. Cho offered a pat on the shoulder—“Don’t say, ‘man,’ right?”—before depositing me in the office of a middle-aged woman in a powder-pink power suit. Saito Sensei asked a few questions: my hobbies, travel experience, how long I planned to stay in Tokyo. Saito Sensei was pleased that I spoke no Japanese. “Students must use English to you. But lack of experience, ne. Even with good recommendation from Yamashita Butch-o-u.” 

She sucked air through her teeth. “Can you teach sample lesson? We can pay money.”

Boom. Barely waiting for my “Now?” Saito Sensei made a phone call, and we were off. To a warm closet of a room dominated by a six-foot round table, around which were seated three of the four receptionists. Saito Sensei introduced Ritsuko-san, Satsuki-san, and Akemi-san. “Office Ladies are not students. OLs will learn for sample lesson only.”

All three bowed. I returned the bow, hoping it didn’t look as if I were mocking them. Saito said, “A sensei does not bow.”

I said, “Except to you,” and hit it. Fifteen degrees.

Saito Sensei’s raised eyebrows showed approbation. She motioned formally for me to sit, handed me a floppy plastic yellow folder, and settled herself pinkly into a corner chair.

Floundering and knowing it, I proposed that each OL choose an English name. Saito Sensei titled her head. Approval? Ritsuko and Akemi giggled, sweet butterflies. Satsuki declined. I fanned myself with the yellow folder. Finally, Ritsuko asked to be called Lisa. Akemi decided she was Marcie. She touched her own nose. “Family name, Masumoto.”

Despite her seated position, she bowed. Fifteen degrees.

I opened the folder. Man—we were supposed to warm up by practicing consonants: B-b-b-b, k-k-k-k, ch-ch-ch-ch. The butterfly girls giggled. Satsuki looked up for it. I tried too hard with clown-like bs and chs. More giggles. Allegedly prepared, we advanced to the main lesson, compound verbs. Marcie got “run over.” She blinked. She blanched. No giggle.

“Don’t be afraid, Marcie. What happens when something gets”—I gestured—“run over?”

Marcie closed her eyes in concentration. “The cat is flat.”

The next morning, my training began at Achieve English. In a week, I was teaching. I’d never taught anything. I de-stressed by way of six-dollar Camels and lit up the instant I was out of class or off any train. I sucked smoke through long, underground transfers and across crowded platforms to noisy, sometimes rainy, always sweaty streets—so hot, by June, incessantly hot, and always, always past kiosk counters stacked with mini bars of gold bullion I’d only noticed once before. To make matters worse, every day, the glistening display in a certain restaurant window seduced me. In the red compartments of a black-on-the-outside bento box were two plump pieces of fried shrimp, a moist square of tofu sprinkled with minced onion so green you could practically taste them. And rice. Thick pillows of it. One hundred percent plastic, utterly convincing, and the real deal on sale for six hundred yen. A thousand calories, easy. Scarfed it in less than ten minutes. I was gonna get so fat.

After one such lunch, everything belly and below was in pain. Too much rice. On the toilet, I stared at four viscous splotches of reddish-brown in the crotch of my panties.

The machine in the Achieve English ladies’ room ate my ten-yen coin without dispensing as it should. I crammed some toilet paper into my undies and waddled swiftly to the front desk, where, euphemistically, I begged the Office Ladies for help. In a voice like water trickling downstream, Akemi murmured, “Aaah. Seri-chu desu.”

“Sure. I don’t have any . . .” I flapped helplessly.

Akemi flowed toward her purse, handing over the necessaries with an edifying whisper in faulty but welcome English: OLs often called in sick at this time of the month. 

I said, “Cool. How do you say that, again?”

I found Saito Sensei and delivered my first complete sentence in Japanese: “Seri-chu, desu,” hoping to sound weak and menstrual. Then I stormed to the station, fat enough to have a period. Passed a kiosk. Ripped the gold foil off a mini bar before the guy had my hundred yen in his register. The next day, it was two—one on the way to Shinjuku, another on the way home. Unable to deny the numbing sweetness of chocolate in transit, I took a later evening shift at work so that I could skip dinner. Leaning into my cigs, I kept it to one mini bar a day. A person should be able to eat anything that was only one hundred yen and one hundred calories without getting fat or going broke. 

On the weekends, I smoked on the back steps, fingering what seemed to me a growing gut and trying not to think about my family, my older sister. When Patrice was twelve, right before our father switched from coming into her room at night to coming into mine, we played on the rocky beach at Carkeek Park. I remembered the feel of pebbles in my hand and then leaving it as we threw them into the Puget Sound. The air glimmered, and the water was vast and aqua-colored. How could we have known that he was going to substitute me for Patrice? The sky was empty of anything except its vibrancy, but we knew. We both knew. 

On the back porch, Cho dropped beside me and made scissor-fingers. I passed her a cigarette. The only sound was her occasional, yucky cough. Then our landlady approached with a set to her shoulders that made me wonder if she had been waiting for a moment that Cho was with me to come forward. She proved me right when, through Cho, she insisted that we return to the negi.

Cho translated for her. “It was the war. We had nothing to eat. We did not complain. In Hiroshima, in Nagasaki, Japanese people lost everything. My husband did not return. We had this garden, and I could plant the negi. I was young and strong. I could eat only bitter negi and survive. But my baby”—Cho repeats this in Japanese—“my aka-chan. She did not survive.”

We were quiet until Kashiwabara-san spoke again. When she finished, Cho translated: “Each year, I must plant negi. There are always onions in my tea garden.”

A week later, again smoking on the back steps. Cho again plopped next to me with a “Hey, girl.” She was blushing. Cho never blushed. She waved away my proffered pack. “I’m quitting. You’ve heard me hack. And I beg you, do not say, ‘Cut back.’ I’m not the type. We could call each other at work, to check in.”

I ashed. “Since when did this become a communist utopia?”

“Carlie, please. I could use your help.”

When a higher-up in a major department store chain said, “Please,” it was flattering. We kicked off our quitting scheme next morning. I spent my class time fantasizing about the chunky satisfaction of a regular-sized candy bar. At my first break, I did it. I headed with startling inevitability for the candy machine in Achieve English’s blue lobby, paid three hundred yen, almost three dollars, breathing hard in anticipation. Snuck to the bathroom, barricaded myself in a stall, and downed it in two minutes. Then I called Cho.

She started right in. “I’m nic-ing like a motherfuc—and that asshole, Imai-san . . .” Cho riffed on him for several minutes before getting to, “How are you doing?”

Putting food into the place the cigarettes used to be. I said nothing. Cho trashed herself for another minute. On my return to my classroom, I bought a second bar. Lucky me, I became the person Cho phoned when she wanted a smoke. Once, she mentioned that she was eating more. I mumbled, “Yeah. Me too, I guess,” 

On my train rides home, I daydreamed about ice cream. Even though I wasn’t able to read the label, I knew: one pint, four servings of 260 each. Within the week, I couldn’t refrain from buying that pint. I did it every night. In my room, alone, I finished the ice cream, hoping for once to get to the bottom of the carton and find something besides the bottom of the carton. I ran my hands over my clavicle, no longer protruding. Boobs, bigger. A definite pad across my stomach. Tomorrow, tomorrow I would stop. But every tomorrow: Should I, lacking the benefit of a cigarette, reach Shinjuku in the morning without eating, should I manage to pass the candy machine in the lobby and make it to call Cho, some Achieve English student was bound to have a cold. Trapped in the small, hot classroom, she’d rip open a pack of tissues. Man. Sounded like a bag of Oreos. Cough drops smelled medicinal but cherry enough. Break was in ten minutes. A pastry. Cherry filling. It was humiliating. Yet I did it. Every time. One evening, late July, I finished the ice cream and couldn’t help myself. In total resignation, I went again into the muggy night. A different store, another pint. I ate the ice cream while walking, ate it with my finger. Once home, I practically ran to the bathroom, stuck that same finger down my throat. It wouldn’t come up. 

I pressed. Hard. It hurt, the rush of food.



Alle C. Hall’s debut literary novel, As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back, won two first place awards at the 2022 International Firebird Book Awards in the literary and coming of age categories. Novel excerpts won the 2022 National League of American Pen Women’s Mary Kennedy Eastham Flash Fiction Prize and placed as the first finalist in the 2020 Lascaux Prize. Hall’s short stories appear in journals including Evergreen Review, Tupelo Quarterly, New World Writing, and Litro; and her essays in Creative Nonfiction and Another Chicago Magazine.