Paula was used and abused. And boy-oh-boy, when the rumours flew, they flew. She was with Dan, and Goo, and Scottie, and Jason, and the other Jason and...really: need I go on? Her boys were like a steady stream of teen maleness, with their skateboards and their brash, overdone haircuts and giant's pants.

She was a slut, I can't be any gentler than that. Pure and simple, matter of fact, she's probably either dead, or a bad mom with tons of kids milling about her unemployed ass like moths to a flame. But she was fine, in a she-gets-around kind of way. She had this round ghetto-booty, big perky tits and lips that could, without effort, suck the borders off a road map. Tiny little waist too, one that you could palm and easily prop her up on a deep freeze, or a kitchen table, or the bathroom sink ... but I digress.

So this one day it's high summer and we're all wanting to get a little less clothed. We head down to the ravine just north of Empire Ave., 'cause Jay says there's this spot where the water gets deep, and you can get a decent swim, in sweet, virgin-pure water, right in the heart of the city. Just don't drink the water, man, you never know, right? We all walked, stoned, up a shaded path filled with secrets and crevices, and got to the pool, beer in hand and ready to get naked. Some had changes of clothes with them, some didn't. Some shed their clothes, some just jumped in. It didn't matter. The wind was from inland and the ocean was too far away. Steady Boyfriendgirlfriend stayed on the side, spilling their slurped kisses into the sounds of splashing and we were united, a group of vagrants brought together by sun, by heat, and by the malformed structures of our lives.

The impassable wall of two years-of-age loomed between us, not to mention whoever I was humping; same goes for Paula, she had lots of guys boning her. I think the unlucky that was my flavour of the week was Charmaine--it might've been Scottie for her, but I can't be certain. Paula and I were masters of promiscuity, we never went alone, our bitches on our arms. She and I could probably look around, us two, if we talked, and say to each other, the one thing everyone has in common here, Devon/Paula, is you and me. If you know what I mean, oh hell yeah, I know what you mean. But we rarely spoke, our age barrier divided us into separate groups of mates to choose from. I got the fresh young hotties with the black makeup on, styling themselves "goth" though they probably didn't know why. Meanwhile, Paula got the smoked out coolguys who were almost in school, takin' that tech course where you get paid thousands-and-thousands.

We swim and swim as the sun goes down but we're altogether too stoned to notice or too drunk to care. There is a semblance of togetherness binding us wholesale, but it lasts for no more than one of these gatherings, tiny sympaticos based solely on need. The sun reaches the point of semibright in the sky and a cloud of suppressed giggles makes its way from one side of our mini-pond to my side. Whoever was my choice for today says, "Holy shit, Paula jumped in in her bra, you can totally see everything she's got." Hastily I say, so what, let her swim, but I don't look because Paula and I are the same at the core, we're living for that one moment, one romp in the hay, that cheap bottle of wine or whatever. We didn't care about what was special--we lived for intensity.

I can stand it no longer 'cause I'm fifteen, and maybe I'm hard maybe I'm not, so I steal a sidelong glance, and Paula's upper half slowly bursts from the water's surface, the sun striking off, and scattering little mirrors of light around her head. Like a halo. Her bra is all she wore and it was white: she acted like nothing was up but she knew what was going on.

If you weren't in love as a teen with hormones driving you mad, you truly haven't felt love; where in our older years, love is a complicated thing spoken of by poets, touched off in the good songs, belonging to the family, mother-daughter-father-son. A misspent youth's love (or lust) is simple, direct, unwavering, and overwhelmingly powerful. I loved Paula in that instant, so fiercely and fully that I could feel this fucklust exude from my pores, her so far. I knew in my heart of hearts that she would remain the same forever: trashy and beautiful, never to be had by me. She would always be Paula with her sexuality splayed out across the rocks, and I never stole more than a taste at a time.

graceness, my first reader, came up with the title. Ten years later, I am still proud of this thing. Thanks, graciepants, ya noob.