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Story by Pam Mosher (Read author interview) December 15, 2006

No one looks at anyone else in the bathroom, not directly. But we’re all looking, all the time, assessing who’s fat, who’s thin, whose back is dotted with moles, whose stomach is flat and how hip bones jut, what type of bra, what underwear, firm round butt or already flabby?

One girl, Marcia’s her name, no one likes her much – she’s fifteen, but she has cellulite running from her butt cheeks all the way down the back of her legs, to her ankles. Girls talk about it, in whispers when she leaves the bathroom with her plastic bucket filled with shampoo and weird soaps. Can’t she do something? Can’t she lose some weight? She’s so gross, we say. Disgusting.

This is how I first hear about the Catholic school in town, that there are boys there, boys we could do things with – Marcia is doing things with them. At first we’re all curious, we talk to her, we want to know: when, how do you meet, what do you say, what’s his name? Marcia sits at our table, girls wave her over in the library and whisper: Are any of them cute? Got a friend for us?

A few girls say, wait. How come Marcia has a guy and I don’t?

Marcia catches up with me in the hall now, asks me questions about my family that I don’t want to answer, tells me, Hey, Anna, maybe sometime we could go to a movie? My mom would pick us up, drive us into town anytime you want.

Yeah, maybe, I say.

I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t want to go anywhere with Marcia and her mom. I picture her mom’s red Oldsmobile with peeling vinyl seats that prick the back of your legs. I picture her mom smoking and calling us you girls. Lumping us into one person, the way it must happen with twins. The way it happens at Fairview all the time, something about the sameness of our dress, our age, our look – everyone thinks we’re all the same.

But then Diane tells us what she hears. Marcia isn’t dating anyone, she’s just meeting guys behind the bowling alley, climbing into the back seat with two or three of them at a time. They take turns, watch. They call her names, we imagine. Fatso. Ugly. How can they not? Rumor has it she lay out in the field and let fifteen guys do it to her. Someone says afterward she was crawling around naked, looking for her clothes, everyone could see that big fat butt and the cellulite all the way to her ankles, those guys just sat and watched her gather her pants, underwear, shirt, on her hands and knees in the grass.

All the guys are talking about Fairview girls now, Diane says. You know what they’re saying about us? That we’re pigs? That we’ll fuck anything? That all you have to do is get a Fairview girl off campus, she’ll blow you in the movie theater, you don’t even have to buy her a ticket? A guy can rest the box of popcorn on her head, make her wear it like a hat.

Girls scatter now when she approaches. She calls after us. Hey wait up! Wait for me!

Linda and I talk about it, late at night in our room. She’s breaking the rules. Isn’t it a moral code violation? Couldn’t she be kicked out of school for what she’s doing? Just sneaking off campus could get you suspended, right? Shouldn’t we report her?

Someone should report her, everyone says.

She corners me after class, asks me, Wouldn’t you like to go somewhere with my mom and me this weekend? Could you get a pass? Maybe you could come to my house. There’s a lake, we could swim.

Someone should report her, I think.

But no one reports her. Instead, a couple girls catch her late one night near the fountain, kick her until she’s curled up fetus-like and moaning, kick her till she bleeds. No one admits they did it. No one admits they think she deserved it. But no one says she didn’t.

After that, she leaves school on her own, drops out. She and her mom drive away together, in their rusty red Olds.

About the Author

Pam Mosher’s fiction has appeared in Ink Pot, Summerset Review, Pindeldyboz, FRiGG and other publications. Her story “The Pinwheel” was chosen as a Notable Short Story for 2005 by Story South Magazine.

This story appeared in Issue Fifteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifteen

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