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STARBOUND (fifth)

Marnie unlocked the door at the top of the long stairway and entered the large loft.  Sylvia followed her in and slipped off her coat while Marnie closed and locked the door behind them.  The space was a huge open area with a line of square pillars down the centre to support the high ceiling.  Originally meant to be an industrial space, the black woman had converted it into a vast living space.

In a corner near the floor-to-ceiling window was a kitchen area with a food preparation island that separated it from a dining area.  Six matching chairs upholstered in faux leopard skin surrounded a glass-topped metal table.  A cluster of illuminated balls hung suspended above the table.  In a corner far back from the window a king-sized bed hung near the ceiling, high above the floor.  In another corner was a work area set up with a large worktable, a sewing machine, and a variety of bolts of fabrics stored on several levels of deep shelves.

In the other corner near the tall, wide window was a comfortable lounging area.  A pale green overstuffed sofa faced a pair of matching easy chair with a glass-topped coffee table in the midst of them.  The large centre area of the loft was open and empty except for a magnificent oriental carpet that was also in the pale green of the overstuffed furniture.

          “How about a drink”, said Marnie as she hung her coat on a rack near the door.

          “No thanks”, said Sylvia.  “I never drink when I’ve been smoking”.  Marnie opened a glossy black-lacquered cabinet and took out a small wooden box.

          “Then let’s share some more smoke”, Marnie said.  She walked to the sofa and placed the box on the coffee table.  “I have some really terrific Thai Stick here.  Come here.  Sit.  Get comfortable”.

          “What’s the big secret information you have for me”, Sylvia said.  She joined Marnie on the large sofa.  Marnie took the marijuana out of the box, crumbled a bit of it on the glass tabletop and deftly rolled a neat, slender joint.  She held it out to Sylvia who took it to her lips.

          “Remember I told you I know one of the girls in The Bitches pop group?” Marnie said as she held a flame to the joint while Sylvia sucked on it.

          “Yeah”, said Sylvia, squeezing the word out while holding the smoke in her lungs.  “But I never really believed you, to tell you the truth”.

          “Well”, said Marnie, taking the joint from Sylvia, “the truth is that I really do know her.  We were kids together in the north end.  Of course, I was still a boy then, and Shawna was very supportive during my changeover”.

          “I really can’t imagine you as a boy”, said Sylvia.  She took the joint back from Marnie and sucked a big drag down into her lungs.  “You’re such a beautiful woman”.

          “I was a pretty good looking boy, too, Sweetie, but I was always a woman on the inside,” Marnie said.  “Anyway… Shawna told me she’s leaving the group.  She’s getting married, and she’s fed up with touring and all that crap.  She really plans to settle down, be a good girl and raise a family.  I don’t get it, but different strokes for different folks, as you know”.

          “That’s amazing”, Sylvia said.  She handed the joint back to Marnie, who finished it with one long toke and dropped the roach into a silver ashtray on the coffee table.  “I’d give anything to be in a group like that”.  Marnie expelled a long stream of pungent smoke from between her full, red lips.

          “I know”, Marnie said.  “I’m gonna make some coffee.  How’s it going with your singing lessons”?

          “Good”, Sylvia said, going to the kitchen area with Marnie.  “Walter’s a great teacher, and he says if I keep practicing as much as I do, I’ll be good enough to try it as a pro”.

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