I’ve been quit for years. Just occasionally I miss the motions – not the ritual, the oral – breathing in that sweet fug, anticipating the satisfaction that courses with the blood to the very tips of your fingers. Those ones holding the cigarette to your grasping lips.
It was after the bar had closed, that tricky hour where lawlessness abides. One of those times when management locks the doors and shuts out the night, secret ashtrays appearing suddenly from secret cubbies and packs getting slapped resolutely on the top of the bar where, after all, they belong.
Soon I would smell that familiar smug that punctuated the bars of my youth. Sweet smoke, acrid and painful where it bumps against your nose hairs, a warning, a motivation, and a cloying curse, left clinging to your clothes and your hair, your lips and your fingers. In just moments breathing would be a bit harder and conversation more expansive as sly tendrils spiraled lazily to kiss the ceiling, and I would stare on, nostalgic.
Instead, I asked for a butt.
I knew it was a mistake with the very first drag. I expected an old friend, the little buzz, the sweet relief I remembered, but what I got was noxious smoke, unfamiliar and nauseating. It was an unfortunate since I now had the whole damn thing to get through.
The movement was familiar but the magic was gone. I was left fruitlessly pulling toxic smoke into my lungs, missing the feeling all the more now that I knew it was no longer waiting, just out of reach. All I was left with was toxic smoke in my lungs, and stinky fingers (and not the good kind).
The next morning every bit of my insides hurt and I hated myself for my illicit cigarette. Maybe this time it will be the last.