By Katrina Guarascio

Spark. The smell of the burning tobacco mixes in with White Musk. It sits there, on the edge of the generic black plastic. The smoke is white and magical as it slowly rises from the tip. It slips through the room like delicate fingers conducting an invisible orchestra. It is snake like in it's mannerisms. Secretive. Suspicious. She lifts the dark end to her mouth and inhales. The ember grows stronger as she sucks in the cancerous entity. There is a mutual manipulation during this process. The smoke fills her up and distorts her body. In return she transforms the smoke inside her and takes away all of its mystic beauty, exhaling a large cloud of polluted air.

* * *

Mary and I sat at Village Inn two hours past curfew smoking the Marlboro Reds that Stephanie's brother had bought for us, and drinking cup after bottomless cup of coffee. Her's with two creams and five sugars. I had mine black. I was starting to get the shakes and my hand was becoming cramped from writing all night. We had come here to do homework originally, but like always Mary had become distracted by the older college boys dressed in black in the neighboring booth. I had become absorbed inside my blue notebook practicing making metaphors out of torn napkins and flavored syrup. But my pen was tired now and I had become bored with the trite language and clichéd lines that continuously poured from it.

"Mary," I said loudly, in order to get her attention. She didn't hear me. "Hey Gopher Brain." At this she turned.

"What?" she said playfully. Her full attention was on me as though I was the only person in the room. She had always had a sweet way of singling a person out like that. I think that it is one of the reasons boys liked her so much. Everyone likes feeling as though they are the center of attention.

"Tell me what to write about," I commanded.

Mary lit a new cigarette off the still burning ember of her previous cigarette. She inhaled deeply and the smoke seemed to engulf the room. "Like what," she asks.

"I don't know. I'm uninspired. Just give me a word, a noun. Something I can make a poem out of."

Mary sucked long and slow on the cilia destroyer that rested in her fingers. Inhale. Exhale. Her eyes looked up at the ceiling, then down to the table. She was thinking. Looking for something. She was not aware that my eyes had already made the same trek a thousand times. Inhale. Exhale. She flicked the cigarette somewhat near the ashtray. Finally she spoke.

"I don't know. Write about a cigarette." * * *

I wish I had never quit smoking. It seems as though life is a little bit emptier now. Smoking used to give me substance. It was like a hobby. I used to smoke when I drank. Usually I would have one after a meal, sometimes two. I would smoke when I drove to work, drove to school, to a friend's house, the bar, grocery store, etc. etc. etc. Sometimes I would just drive around aimlessly, smoking cigarettes, listening to my favorite song of the week, and just enjoying life. Enjoying my youth and my freedom. I don't do that anymore.

Copyright © 2003 Katrina Kaye Guarascio

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