We woke up late the following morning. My head was pounding from the bottle of wine I had consumed and my throat was a bit raw and scratchy. As I inhaled the stale air, the air caught in my throat and I coughed. My chest felt a bit heavy and congested. It was the first time I really physically felt the effect of my smoking. It was like having a cold, but feeling perfectly fine otherwise. The last thing I wanted was a cigarette. Weird. There is such thing as too much of a good thing.

How many cigarettes had I smoked yesterday? I thought to myself. I counted the ones in the ashtray, ten cigarettes, plus the two I got from Alex and the one I smoked on the balcony, so 13 total. But then I remembered they weren’t all mine. Lindsay smoked at least one, maybe two of those. My memory of the last part of the night was hazy. Regardless, it was on the upper end of what I normally would smoke in a day.

Tea and water, that is what I want right now!  I contemplated this as I got up to fill and boil the kettle and felt a glass of water for myself.

A groggy Lindsay appeared moments later.

“My head is pounding!” Lindsay exclaimed. “I swear this is one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had.”

I passed her a glass of water. “Drink up. Water will help ease the headache.”

“Thanks. I had fun last night. I don’t regret it, despite how I feel right now.” She said taking a long drink of water.

“Well, I’m going to make breakfast. Eggs, bacon and toast- Would you like some?” I offered.

“Yes, please!”

As I made breakfast and we chatted, I couldn’t help but feel as though there was an elephant in the room. Lindsay hadn’t brought up smoking. Yesterday, she didn’t stop teasing me about it and today nothing. We sat down and ate breakfast. When we were finished, I finally did feel like a cigarette. I grabbed the pack of B&H’s silver and started to grab my jacket to head outside.

“I’m going out for a smoke.” I said.

“You don’t have to go out.” She replied.

“Are you sure? I thought you were just letting me yesterday because you were drunk.”

“I’m sure. I think I might have misjudged the whole smoking thing. I’m sorry I teased you so bad about it yesterday. I hate to admit that I really enjoyed it.”

“Would you like to have one with me?”

Lindsay looked down, as if ashamed and said, “I want to, but my desire terrifies me. I feel if I say yes to a cigarette now, the answer might always be yes. I’m not sure how I feel about that.”

“You are always welcome to one if you want one.” I offered,  taking a cigarette out of the pack and lighting it up. My first drag was so small that I barely felt the effect so I took another much larger drag and inhaled deeply, holding it in for a few seconds before reluctantly releasing it. The first drag of the day is always the best one, so I savored it. I could see where my friend was coming from and I wanted her to make her own choice. I felt a slight twinge of guilt that it was as a result of my introduction to tobacco that she was having this dilemma. “I feel bad for introducing you to it.”

“Don’t. I’m an adult and I made a choice. Now I need to live with the consequences of that choice.”n She sighed and continued to sip her tea.

We sat in silence while I finished smoking my first cigarette of that day. Lindsay looked pensive.  I decided I wouldn’t offer her a cigarette again unless she asked. I wanted to leave the ball in her court, without my influence.

“I’ve got to go, but we should do this again sometime.” Lindsay said getting up out of her chair and gathering her things.

“For sure. I hope you had a good time.”

“The best. As always with you, Mel.” She smiled and left Drew’s apartment.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning Drew’s place for him and contemplating my own smoking. My habit had developed rapidly, although not at the same time. I had been in a weird or maybe not so weird pattern of denying myself when I was with Lindsay, alone or other friends and indulging with Drew. Letting Lindsay know I smoked was a weight on my shoulders that I didn’t even know I was carrying and I felt lighter now that I wasn’t carrying it.

I decided that day that that I would just smoke when I wanted to and stop the denial. Because if I was being honest with myself, I was already a smoker. A smoker. My mother was going kill me. My father was going to be disappointed. My sister was never going to believe it. I had two weeks until Thanksgiving to figure out how I was going to tell them. Or devise a plan on how to get through Thanksgiving without smoking. Two weeks.

Chapter Fifteen