"I'm gonna quit one day, you'll see." She tells the man at the counter.
She picks up the pack of cigarettes as he smiles and nods, a "yeah, right" in his eyes. Of course he doesn't believe her. No one believed in her anymore. She ignores the skepticism and turns on her heel. Walking out of the convenience store, she breathes in deeply as the fresh air hits her face. Not so much to calm herself but the inside of the store had smelled like wet mold and fish. Her hands fumble with the plastic around the pack and she feels her heart start to race. But just a bit, just a little bit. She finally tears the plastic away and flips open the pack. The scent of Marlboros fills her nostrils and for a second or two she feels satisfied with just that. Then the need takes over and she feels her hands tremble and her lungs scream as she pulls one out and sticks it between her lips.
"As usual," She thinks and laughs to herself. "Always sticking things into your mouth."
Reaching for her lighter, she runs her thumb over it and a small flame erupts from between her fingers. She lifts the flame to the cigarette wedged between her lips as everything around her goes silent. In this moment, it's only her. It's quiet as she watches the flame flicker in front of her eyes. Her mom had always told her to stop playing with fire.
"You can't go around dancing with the flames; it'll roll you up and smoke you."
The words seem almost comical to her now. She shrugs off the memory and brings the flame to the cigarette. She inhales sharply as the tip catches fire and starts to burn. With a flick of her wrist she pockets the lighter and brings her fingers back to her mouth. The first breath sinks into her lungs, burning on the way down. Closing her eyes, she exhales happily. This is what she lives for. The blaze that that single inhale brings to her whole body, lighting her up from inside out. She feels alive as she takes another drag and exhales once again. Opening her eyes, she stares out at the scene before her, suddenly noticing that she had walked all the way to the end of the street. Cars blur past her vision but she doesn't notice them. Instead, her eyes focus on the cigarette in her hands. She feels a wave of emotion creep over her as she stares at the white stick.
Her life? Rumble and tumble. It has always been that way and will always be. But this was her constant. Her only anchor to control. Whether fate took her to the left or swung her to the right she always followed with a cigarette in hand.
A short man with brown hair passes right in front of her, jogging up the street. He glances at the cigarette in her fingers and frowns in distain. She smiles. Lung cancer, emphysema, heart attacks?
"Pshh." She murmurs and takes yet another drag as he jogs away. The smoke fills her mouth and then travels down her spine, making its way to her lungs. She feels a satisfaction deep in her gut as she continues to smoke, glancing out at the not-so-empty street before her.
She takes her last puff as the cigarette diminishes to nothing. She tosses it to the side, where it falls among the other butts. How long has she been standing there? She doesn't know. Does she care? Not as much as she should. She reaches for the pack again and is surprised to find that there is only one cigarette left. She pulls it out and throws the empty pack away, not budging from her spot. Her eyes wander off to the ground beside her and she stares at the cigarette butts that litter the grass. Broken, crumpled, completely finished. Smoked until the very end of the filter. She feels the edge of her lip twitch, wanting to smile at the irony. She looks away and brings her eyes back to the cigarette in her hand; crisp, clean, and ever-so enticing. She takes a deep breath and looks up, realizing that someone is watching her. A little boy ogles her, his eyes wide and inquisitive, as his mother tries to pull him away.
"Come on, sweetie, let's go now."
She smiles at them and cocks her head, her eyes gazing into his just as curiously. The little boy giggles then and waves his fingers at her. She lifts the cigarette in the air, waving back, just as they disappear around the corner. The street is empty after that. No one passes by her as she twirls the cigarette in her hand. Another moment passes and at last she gives in. In mere seconds the cigarette is lit and she takes her first inhale. Glancing around, talking to no one in particular, she looks up at the sky and murmurs.
"I'm gonna quit one day, you'll see..."
A/N: This story was written for the Writing Challenge Contest in the Review Game. Go check it out sometime.