Veronica Gaylie is a writer and professor. Her work has been published in many periodicals, including Grain, Ditch, Room, Lake, Carte Blanche, thetyee.ca and Geist. She lives in Vancouver. Read more of her work at geist.com.
All the kids in the smoke pit wore one. I never saw a new one. They had to be old, musty and fit badly. Long arms. Too tight. Never clean. Soaked in the smell of perfume and poutine. They’d been in the water. They’d washed up on the sand. They’d been drenched in beer. Used as a rag. Red or green and black. Sometimes yellow. They stood at bus stops after the buses stopped running. Never on time. On the Greyhound. They walked through turnstiles at Canucks games at the Pacific Coliseum. At the Agrodome they reached out to Stiff Little Fingers. The Clash. DOA. Worn by cousins from Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Carrot Creek. They got you in trouble. Asked if you wanted to skip class and visit the CN tracks. Singed on the sleeves. Too close to BIC lighters. Sat around campfires. Put out the flames. Landed on sidewalks. Smelled of gasoline. Lost in potholes. Found in alleys. Covered in fir needles. Stepped on. Rained on. Twisted in trees.