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Mile One

                                    Timothy L. Marsh

At the Mile One Centre in downtown St. John’s, the pop siren Avril Lavigne is holding a concert. All the young sex-clad revelers are out gathering their grapes. The glossy-lipped girls look wonderful standing by the steps in their best mall-bought outfits, tailbone tattoos peeking between the waists of their skirts and the hems of their tops. The backs of their thighs quiver when they walk. Their toenails are painted. The guys wear baggy cargo shorts, sleeves rolled to the elbows, collars popped, chains out, cheap bling winking in the streetlight.

The girls stand in groups of threes and fours, stroking their hair, looking around, edgy as gazelles. The guys stand in groups of threes and fours, talking about weed, where to get weed, where to smoke weed, all the girls they’d like to screw.

One of the girl groups and one of the boy groups have come cautiously together. It is a meeting of expedition parties.

The boys have brought liquor in flasks and plastic water bottles. They are using the alcohol as a kind of Christopher Columbus into the undiscovered country of promiscuity.

The booze has sailed the boys like the Santa Maria to the breezy new world of female companionship with all its tropical aromas and secret coves and turns of fiercely-blue water shining with chandelier foam.

The boys take short vigorous swigs and pass the liquor to the girls who take giggly sips and fan the air in front of their mouths. The boys tease the girls who can’t drink, and the girls who can’t drink laugh and drink some more. Do I remember this play?

Suddenly the first percussions of the opening act boom from inside. The start of the concert is a signal calling all hands back to ship, but the boys don’t want to go. They want to stay on the beach and get drunk with the girls and pass out in the sand beside their blazing white bonfire smiles.

The girls dash up the stairs in glittery heels, liquored and flushed. “Where will you be after the concert?” they call from the arena entrance.

“We don’t know,” the boys shout back. “We’ll look for you!” But the girls are gone before the promise can reach them. They move like a wonderful night.

The boys hang by the steps, wondering where their booze went and if there’s still enough left to get drunk. They look very young but a little older standing in the dawn of their new world, with all the constellations vanished from the sky.

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