That night I had my first of many dreams about Drew and about smoking. In my dream that night, I was a smoker. A committed one and Drew was my boyfriend. The main difference between dream smoking and real life smoking is that in dreams there are no smells. Smoke does not smell, nor can you feel the effects of the numerous inhales. Another side effect of the dream is that I woke up with a yearning to smoke I had not previously felt. I was an odd mixture, coupled with the intoxicating feeling of new love. Well it was not love yet and could probably more accurately be called new lust.

Luckily, I would see Drew first class in the morning and get to meet with him after to work on the editing assignment. Both my incessant thoughts about Drew and smoking had me awake far before my alarm so I decided that I would straighten my hair. I also had enough time to put on a bit of make-up and decided I might as well go all out and wear a cute jean skirt that showed off my legs and a moderately sexy shirt that showed the slightest amount cleavage. Not so much that I looked like a bar star, but enough that Drew would get a peak at my bosom.

Even with taking extra time to get ready, I was still done early so I decided I would head to class early. On my way, I noticed people smoking far more than usual. For some reason, this morning it seemed like everyone but me was smoking. I’m sure there was actually the same number of people smoking as usual, but I never really noticed before. Perhaps it was that I longed more than ever to join them.

As I approached the humanities building that housed my English classroom I saw Drew leaning up against the wall outside, looking oh-so-cool smoking his cigarette. He seemed to be taking very relaxed, languid inhales and lazily exhaling them. A slight wind wafted some of the smoke towards me and I breathed in deep.

“ Hey.” He said exhaling as he talked.

“ Hey.” I replied, mimicking his relaxed manner.

“What brings you here this early?”

“I couldn’t sleep.”

“Me neither.” He smiled implying that he was potentially aware of why that might be and gave me a look up and down if only just noticing, “You look nice today.”

“ Don’t I look nice everyday?” I replied, laughing knowing he meant no harm from his comment.

“Well, uh….” He fumbled. I had tongue tied the poor boy. He was almost done his cigarette when he pulled his pack out and lit a new one from the butt of the old one. And then he offered me one. What to do? On one hand, other than Drew, smoking was the one thing that was pre-occupying my thoughts. One more couldn’t hurt.

“Sure.” I replied. I took one out of the pack and suddenly got a little nervous. I mean I had never lit my own cigarette nor had I taken more than two drags off of one. What the hell was I going to do with a whole one? What if it made me sick?

As if he sensed my second thought, he leaned in and said, “Don’t look so worried, it is just a cigarette. I coach you through it.”

I put the cigarette in my mouth and he brought the lighter close, while instructing me to apply a little suction. The bitter taste of tobacco smoke hit my tongue and like the day before I actually liked the way it tasted. Once I was sure it was lit, I pulled a small puff of smoke into my mouth and then into my lungs.

A feeling similar to what I had experienced yesterday returned, but nowhere near as amazing. It was still pleasant and I repeated the action with a slightly bigger puff. I was disappointed to see that compared to Drew, hardly any smoke came out when I exhaled. But as with yesterday I could already feel the nicotine coursing through my veins.

“ Nice job, but remember to take it easy. I don’t want to be the one responsible for getting you sick. Stop inhaling if you start feeling light headed.” He instructed, “Also, do not feel like you have to race through the cigarette or keep up with me. Just enjoy the moment.”

I took his advice. I found I could not stop staring at the smoldering cylinder between my hands. I also kept thinking, I wonder what people think of me, but quickly decided that I did not really care that much since pretty much no one in this city knew of my reputation. For all they know, I’ve always smoked. Feeling the effects of the first two drags wearing off, I took another more sizable drag and was pleased to see more smoke come out this time. By this point, the cigarette was almost half done. I caught a glance of my reflection in the windows of the building and actually liked what I saw. Still looking at my reflection, I started to pull on the cigarette until my whole mouth was filled and parted my lips slightly. The smoke started to come out of my mouth a little and scared that I would lose it I snapped it back into my lungs. As this was my largest drag to date I exhaled almost all of it immediately.

“ Impressive.” Drew commented. “You just did what they call a ‘snap inhale.’ ”

After the sheer volume of the last puff, I felt like I was done with the cigarette. I was starting to feel a little light-headed and a slight amount of nausea. I swayed a little and my face blanched to an almost translucent colour since I am very pale to begin with.

“Are you okay?” Drew asked, concerned. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “ I often forget what it is like when you first start. My cigarettes are pretty strong. You might consider getting something a little lighter if you want to keep smoking.”

“I think I’ll be okay.” Or at least I hoped so. My attempt to seem far more accomplished than I should have on my second cigarette ever had backfired and I was starting to regret saying yes to Drew at all. It was like the nausea had awakened my non-smoking side and I started to question everything. Did I really want to be a smoker? Was my body trying to tell me that what I was attempting to do was very bad for me?

“I think I need to pick up some ginger ale before class,” I told Drew.

I almost walked into the building, when Drew grabbed me and said, “ Forgetting something?” In my spacey, nicotine buzzed, slight nauseous haze I almost walked right into the humanities building with the still burning almost spent cigarette.

“Oops!” I exclaimed, smiling. I put the cigarette out in the butt stop ashtray contraption they had at the entrances to all the buildings. “I’ll see you in class, Drew.”

“Okay…” He looked like he felt guilty about something.

“Don’t worry- I’ll be fine.”

I quickly found a vending machine and purchased a ginger ale and a pack of gum. The aftertaste of tobacco was not nearly as good as the first cigarette probably because instead of being pleasant like a cup of coffee, it was precisely this taste that was making me want to hang my head over a toilet.

I stumbled into class late, clutching my ginger ale. Drew looked at me worriedly and with a tinge of guilt in his eye. I could tell he felt responsible. I quickly sent him a text message assuring him I was fine and just got carried away. After all, he warned me.  We did not say much to each other through out that class. I was distant mostly because I was contemplating my options. To smoke or not to smoke? That was the question and a question that distracted me throughout that class and the rest of the day.

Chapter Five