Saturday, September 29, 2012

Smoking Hot


I walk out of the restaurant red-faced and tired.  The cold air punches me in the chest as I exhale white fog and zip up my jacket. As steam from my breath evaporates it reminds me that I need a cigarette. I grab for my pack and spark the lighter. I inhale and realize the smoke hurts worse than the air. So I inhale again to make sure it was the smoke. The power of nicotine.

The group walks out shortly after and I pace ahead smoking frigid air.  Every breath jabs me in the lungs but I keep on inhaling. Maybe I’ve drunk too much.  I only smoke when I drink. That’s what I’ve been telling myself for years now but I hardly keep count anymore. I pretty much just smoke when I feel like it.

The pretty brunette from the group steadies herself next to me as I exhale away from her.

“Why do you smoke?”

“I really only smoke when I drink.”

“That’s what they all say.”

“Care for one?”

“No, that’s disgusting. I don’t smoke. I just needed to get away from Nick. He’s driving me insane. He’s such a pervert and he’s been hitting on me all night.”

“He’s alright.”

“He’s a twelve year old!”

“You’re very sassy.”

She stops and stares at me. I see her in the light of the street for the first time since the restaurant. A streaming-red street sign eclipses her small frame and her fiery green eyes lock onto mine.  She’s stunning, angelic.

“What?”

“That’s the problem. I’m always the feisty one, the sassy one. The one people are afraid to talk to. I’m sick of it. Call me beautiful. Call me pretty. Guys don’t say pretty. They say you’re cute. You’re cute and sassy. How original.”

I exhale smoke and she walks ahead of me brushing the cloud away.

“Well you are beautiful. It goes without saying. Your feistiness just adds to the intimidation factor. ”

I toss my cigarette and jog up next to her.

“You ever talk to a girl who’s smokin’ hot and sadistically sarcastic? It’s not the easiest thing.”

She turns to me and smiles. It’s the type of smile that moves every muscle in the face. Her cheeks, her teeth, her lips, her laugh, the wrinkles near her eyes, they synchronize into this perfect dance.  I have to look away to avoid staring. Look to the patches of dirt on the ground, the homeless people begging for change, look at anything but the wrinkles near her eyes.

“You’re just saying that because I flipped out on you. Which I didn’t mean to do.”

“No way. Plenty of people think you’re beautiful. Obviously Nick does—remember?”

“No. Nick said he would like to see me naked. He never said I was beautiful.”

“Well, if you were ugly he probably wouldn’t say that.”

I nudge her with my hip and she beams that contagious grin.

“Ok stop it now.” - She insists

“Fine. You’re right. You’re gorgeous and he’s a jerk. Why would anyone ever want to see you naked?”

We stop at a traffic light and the busy sidewalk comes to a pause. I look down at her and somehow never noticed our arms interconnected. At some point we locked arms like lovers in a romantic comedy but I can’t remember who do it. I can’t remember if it was I who made the first move. I look down at her and she looks up at me nervously, continuing—

“I just don’t want people thinking of me as the mean bossy angry girl. I have a seriously great attitude 83 percent of the time.”

“And you’re pretty to boot.”

She looks up at me with that magnetic smile and for half of a millisecond time stood still. The pretty brunette and me stood there for a half millisecond. We stood there until she let go of my elbow and the group from the restaurant overran us like the Macy’s day parade.

“You guys have a fun smoke?” Nick asks.

The light blinks for us to walk and the group charges across the street while the charming brunette reluctantly follows suit. 

I wait a minute to let them pass but Nick nudges me from behind.

“The brunette is pretty smokin’, huh? Think I’m going to try n’ sleep with her tonight.”

“I don’t know if she’d be into it, man.”

“You’re right. She’s kind of full of herself. One of those yuppy Hollywood bitches that knows she’s hot.”

“That girl doesn’t have a clue how pretty she is.”

“Yeah, whatever. I’m gunna try anyway.”

Nick the pervert scurries after the group and I fish for my cigarettes.

I light one and spot Nick slip his arm over the brunette's shoulder. She shrugs it off wearily and I inhale a deep drag of smoke. It hurts my chest but I blame it on the cold.

The girl with the fiery eyes and the endemic smile disappears into the crowded street as I fall behind and I exhale cold air.

I only smoke when I drink I remind myself. Only when I drink. I take a massive drag, look at my cigarette, and toss it into the street.

I only smoke when I drink.

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