It all started when Christian started smoking and stopped letting us call him Chris. Watching his frail body blow a stream of smoke from his lips into the night sky really made me hot. I started imagining him in all sorts of devious ways. I had always known he wanted me, but I never thought he had "it". The thing that made me see him. It must have been the cigarettes. There's nothing like a fatal addiction to get the girls to come a runnin. I used his feelings for me to my advantage. I was always the first one to volunteer when he didn't want to smoke alone. He'd light the cigarette, take a drag, then as he blew it out he'd smile and say, "What would I do without you?" At that point I'd melt in my shoes and giggle slightly uncontrollably.

He used to be kind of a nag. He was freakishly tall and as thin as a rail. I'm pretty sure that at any moment in time you could see every one of his ribs. He followed us around and wore t-shirts that besides being three thousand sizes too big for him, said idiotic things like, "off too my happy place: back in fifteen." You know that guy, you hate that guy.

Then one day he bought a v-neck sweater, scrunched the sleeves up, and found his dad's jazz vinyl. And it all changed.

I stayed late at his house after everyone else had left. We were sitting in his basement-cum-party room. We had just gone out so he could smoke a cigarette. We were sitting really close on the couch. His knee was practically raping mine and he was rubbing my back. When the hell did he get so much game? So then the inevitable happened. I kissed him and it all went down from there. It was so amazing. I couldn't believe I had let this slip by for so long. Smoke and perfume mingled in this intoxicating way that made me only want more.

We let the kissing thing go on for a while and then we got carried away. Sex. The knee trembling kind. Feeling his body so close to mine was mind altering. He always smoked afterward. Dressed in a sheet, blowing a smooth stream out of his bedroom window he seemed to be thinking something deep. I'd watch him entwined in the bed my hair all over the place and I'd imagine that he was thinking something about me. When he was finished with the cigarette he'd look back and I'd be smiling a wide goofy smile. He'd make his way back over to the bed, ruffle my hair, and drape the sheets over both of us. Then we'd lie there under a white canopy for hours. We didn't tell anyone about it it was too complex to understand. We were above everyone else's opinions anyway.

A few months later another friend began blabbing about the new man in her life. And how amazing he was. And how I should really find someone just like him. I indulged her with an open ear. Some people just couldn't keep their private lives private. She told me his only drawback was that he smoked. Obviously she didn't appreciate the draw of cancer sticks that I did.

I found out that I did have a guy just like him. In fact, my guy was him. He had been sleeping with both of us. I didn't tell my friend. I didn't want to shatter the small wonderful world she lived in. Destroying mine was enough punishment for both of us.

I asked him about it, that was a mistake. He told me how he thought I understood what was going on. He told me we were friends and what we had was so special to him.

I laughed. I laughed in his face.

As I left his house for the last time I thought about how much he really had changed and how it changed me. I almost missed that nerd who doted on me and cared about more than notches on his bedpost and how cool he looked trembling for nicotine.

That night I bought my first pack of cigarettes. I wonder if that's what drove him to his: being brushed off by someone he thought cared about him. Fleetingly I felt sorry for him. But it was soon gone. I lit my first cigarette and mused about how I got duped as I choked and sputtered on it like an old car engine.

The second cigarette came easier and after a while I was a pro at it; just like I became a pro at numbing my loneliness. No one knew, no one ever knew. I'd light up blowing streams of smoke into the night sky and forever feel a small stab in my heart.