The Smoke, Pt. 1

The smoke vanished into the incandescent glow of the street lamp. I can still feel its warm dregs in my throat as I smiled, glancing at the glowing tip of the cigarette. Beyond it, I can see her figure shake in laughter as another friend endlessly cracked jokes.

"You're seriously quitting?"

The voice caught me off-guard, and I could only muster a nod in reply. Had I spaced out again? She was suddenly beside me, her own cigarette held daintily between her fingers.

I took a long drag before dropping the butt and crushing it with my toe. "There," I said, "last stick ever."

"Why did you even start?", she asked as she blew narrow puffs from her lips. "Never figured you to be the type to want lung cancer," she said with a giggle. Man, I could listen to that sound all day.

I thought for a second. To be honest? I started just so I could steal a few minutes with her everyday. So I could have a reason to talk to her. Common ground, you know? So I could see her laugh, curse, jest, and pout. So I could hear her stories, her worries, maybe even her dreams and fears.

"I don't know, I just felt like it," I tried to answer as nonchalantly as I can. I also let out a small laugh. "And I think it's getting unhealthy, honestly."

She smiled. "I envy you. I wish I could let go that easily too. But yeah, I end up sticking to things I know could kill me eventually." She exhaled another puff as the group started heading back to the office.

I lagged behind as we walked, again watching her exchange barbs and cackles with the rest. Suddenly, a fit of coughing racked my body. When it ended, the sharp taste of blood spread around my mouth.

Ah, to hell with it, I thought. I'll be here again tomorrow.

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