#7 – A Vice That Cheers Me Up:
(Note: this vice mostly has to do with Charlotte, so she’s writing this entry, from her perspective)
I have many, many vices. But most, like the self-harm, sex, and drinking, are pretty much just destructive.
Cigarettes, on the other hand, have some perks. The mood lifting, the removal of a migraine and lowering of my blood pressuring due to the relaxing of the blood vessels that nicotine does. I’m entirely aware of the negative impact as well. But I only smoke about once a week. A pack will last me about a month, if not two. And if I can’t afford to buy them, I don’t.
My first smooth drag of that cancer stick was when I, and the body, were sixteen years old.
Germany and I were really close and I was dating Uniballer.
Germany was attempting to date his best friend, Bret. That day, we getting ready for homecoming and making this huge deal about it. This involved making some elaborate meal that I can’t even remember for the four of us.
She was very focused on it when she noticed Bret hadn’t been in the house for awhile. Uniballer was sitting on the couch watching something or playing some video game. I dunno.
She asked if I would go check on him. She was worried he was smoking and for some reason, before Germany hit 18, she was extremely anti-smoking (she now occasionally partakes with me).
Bret was totally sneaking a cigarette in the side yard. I walked up to him and sighed. He spun around, eyes wide and tried to put the cigarette behind his back.
“Seriously?” I asked, “I’ve already seen it. Germany’s gonna be pissed. You swore you quit.” He looked properly shamefaced before he took another drag and looked at me beseechingly.
“Look, I really want to quit. And I’m not trying to be dishonest. It’s just…I’ve never gone to a dance before. I’ve never taken a girl to a dance. I’m way nervous about this whole thing. And Josh seems so relaxed with taking you and I don’t get how he does it. So I just needed one cigarette to sort of…get me through this.” He stuttered out. I stared before I smirked at him.
“You, nervous?” I demanded, relaxing. I had a bit of a crush on Bret. Though I knew better than to do anything more than tease him. Germany is our best friend and mucking things up with her is the ultimate no-no.
But Bret was this bad boy type, ridiculously tall, dark mop of hair, smokey blue-gray colored eyes and a crooked smile. God save me from crooked smiles. He smiled back at me in that sexy way he had.
“Shut up.” He said. I stared at the cigarette. I adored the way it smelled. He smoked this musky brand that just made sense with his personality. It made me think of sex.
“Give me a drag.” I said, reaching out. He rolled his eyes. I should mention that Bret was two years older than us, so he was legally smoking these cigarettes.
“These are not for kiddies.” He argued. I gave him my full patented sexy-Charlotte look.
“I am not a kid. Give me a fucking drag.” I paused, seeing him still hesitate, “If you share, the cigarette will be entirely a secret. If you don’t, I tell Germany I caught you.” I warned. I had no problem with blackmail. He chuckled.
“Wow. Didn’t realize how much of a firecracker you are. All right. Here.” He offered it to me and our fingers brushed a bit longer than necessary. He raised an eyebrow at me as I easily held it between two fingers and brought it my mouth, inhaling smoothly.
“Never smoked, huh? I dunno. Most people cough their first time.” He said teasingly. I winked at him.
“Guess you’ll never know.” I took another drag. He groaned.
“You said one drag!” He started to grab for it as I twirled out of his reach.
“I think half a cigarette is enough to bolster your courage for tonight.” I retorted, trying to finish off the cigarette. He grabbed my wrist roughly and I froze automatically, triggered into that state Uniballer preferred.
With his other hand, he pulled the butt easily from my fingers and sucked one last draw, still holding my wrist, before he saw my expression. He dropped my arm immediately.
“Sorry.” He said quickly. “I didn’t…mean to grab you.” He stamped out the butt with the toe of his boot and looked at me carefully. “Are you all right?”
In that moment, I wondered if he knew about the stuff Uniballer was into. They were best friends after all. And he seemed to see something on my face that embarrassed him.
He touched my shoulder gently. I glanced at him and blinked.
“Yeah. Fine.” I clipped. He started to say something else when I heard the side door open behind us. I turned, expecting Germany to bust us smoking, but it was Uniballer. Bret jumped guiltily away from me. Uniballer frowned at us.
“What’s going on?” His tone was angry and I smelled trouble. Punishment would be coming. Bret stepped forward and replied easily.
“She was asking what I wanted to drink. Apparently dinner’s almost ready and she’s getting the table ready.” He glanced back at me, “Coke’s fine.”
I nodded and quickly walked back to the door, passing by Uniballer. He snagged my elbow and I froze. He leaned close, looking at me carefully.
“You smell like his cigarettes.” He hissed. I didn’t answer, waiting for him to release me before I hurried in and set the table for our meal.
I sampled a couple more of Bret’s cigarettes over the next couple weeks, always in secret, and always with that strange and exhilarating tension between the two of us.
But after some nasty things went down with Bret and Uniballer (that I can’t get into right now) and Bret disappeared, I found I couldn’t stand the smell of his brand of cigarettes anymore.
Now I smoke either Parliaments or American Spirits. I love the smooth, burning sensation, the tingling of nicotine in my mouth.
And I love the social aspect of it. Splitting a cigarette with a friend and talking about nothing. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with Germany, with Grey, with Texas, etc., have been over a pack of cigarettes. It mellows people out and let’s them open up.
And it’s so tough to open up.