by Nick Ostdick

When her mother offed herself, Maggie Peterson started stripping for Snicker's bars. We'd sit around the pool, the sun and pop-radio on full, and one of us would ease the Snicker's from his pocket so she could see it. It was the summer before seventh grade and her naked was all our heads could contain: her breasts, the nipples pinched by the breeze; the small swatch of curly hair nestled between her legs, a mystery. She'd say, Snicker's first, fuckers, and we'd laugh like coyotes howling away, hold our ground, say, Skin first. She'd start with her shirt: pale, dough-ball shoulders dusted by bouncy blonde curls. Shorts next: dripping down thick calves into a puddle at her ankles. Underwear: orange, cotton, a size too small, ripping into her thighs. Bra: never. One afternoon, Maggie already naked, we shouted, Moon, Moon, wanting a look at her backyard. She called us jackasses, grinning. She spun and then bent in half. There, on her left cheek, was a tattoo of the moon, a perfect likeness no bigger than a silver dollar. The whites and grays were rubbed delicately into her skin, the outer rim a red-hued bruise, which is how we knew it was real. We stood dumb. She turned her head back, said, You didn't expect that, did you, fuckers? No, we didn't. She stood up, said, Snickers, now. We tossed it to her along with our questions. She dove into the candy, wispy caramel streaks hanging from her lips. She never showed us her body or the tattoo ever again; when we'd ask about it, she'd slowly shake her head in a patronizing way, call us cute. One final bite and she shouted, Last one into the pool is a loser, and she disappeared, totally nude, into the water. We followed her in, helpless.

Nick Ostdick is in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Sheepshead Review, Prairie Margins, Annalemma, Storyglossia, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for various awards including the Best of The Web series. His lives with his fiancee just outside of Carbondale, Illinois.