by Meg Tuite

Three abortions and a pack of smokes later, she houses in one of those sheds. Sixteen years old, she rakes through time like a goddamn rolodex. When she is six, no one notices men with tongues flattened against playground fences.

Same number of concrete squares. Sidewalk collapses into sleepy steps home with eyes closed. One grit of a man grinds himself under her heels. Not a kid or parent red lights the girth of Officer Friendly. No one plagues the stranger’s plan. Sucks her inside his van. Chokes in her own solitude. Six years old, easy as a candy bar shoplift. Gone.

Everyone goes on about the neighborhood angst. Signs put up. Parents plead for the kid. Please, they say. Rewards. 5,000, 10,000 and no conviction if you just give her back.

That shit blows in the wind of nothing in less than two weeks. Ten years later? Please. No scars are left. Photos remain. Memories remain. But, a body? No.

Family and friends come together once a year to curl in the leaks of her being. No cops. That is a done deal.

Meg Tuite is author of four story collections and five chapbooks. She won the Twin Antlers Poetry award for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging. She teaches writing retreats and online classes hosted by Bending Genres. She is also the fiction editor of Bending Genres and associate editor at Narrative Magazine.