Cigarettes

Oh, my love,

If you only knew how much my heart aches as I watch you pull another long draft from the cigarette, causing the glowing embers on the end to collapse in on themselves and fall in mad little swirls to the pavement where, forgotten by their brethren, they extinguish.

I can see you collapsing in on yourself, too, as you grind the half-finished smoke under your shoe, your shaking hands already reaching for another. I want nothing more than to whisper the disbelief from your eyes, to soothe the confusion from your brow and the agony from your shoulders. How I long to brush away the rebel tear making its escape down your cheek, but I can’t bring myself to reach out to you…

I wish I was the cigarette clasped like a life-line between your fingers, pressed so tightly to your lips drained of all color. I wish i was the poisonous air that now expanded your lungs, filtering to your bloodstream, racing through the chambers of your chaotic heart. Little invisible particles of tobacco and oxygen and me, shooting up to your brain and causing neurons to fire off and create thoughts, utterable words that would give me some insight to your state of mind.

Perhaps in your head you are hearing the echo of my voice, chastising you for smoking. To your credit, you quit after that first argument, and I am eternally grateful for that. But I knew about the secret stash you kept for the days that became too angry, too scary, too big or too real for you to cope with on your own. I could taste those ashen secrets on your kiss, but I let the lies live on your breath because I knew you were trying and for that, I loved you.

I can’t help but wonder if you knew I knew.

The flashing red and blue lights distort your features (as I know they will distort your dreams when you are finally capable of sleeping again) as you exhale a cloud and say – to no one, to the universe, to whatever or whomever may be close enough to hear: “Why?”

Why, indeed.

I know you don’t expect an answer, nor do I have one to give, so my mouth remains closed. I doubt you would have heard me anyway.

I know you understand you’re slowly killing yourself as I watch you inhale another lungful of toxins. By doing so, do you wonder — or do you hope? — to eventually take my place and bring me back to stand in your shoes?
You can’t, darling.

You can’t.

We’ll find each other again on the far side of eternity. Maybe things will be different next time around, dearest, and I will be able to stay with you the way I intended to…

***

This piece wasn’t inspired by anything, but rather was a story that wrote itself in October.

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