When I awoke the next morning, I had a very slight scratchy throat, which I figured was probably from the smoking. As I glanced over to my bedside table, where the cigarettes had rested for the night, I could tell my bad girl side was definitely still sleeping because I felt half tempted to toss the whole pack out. My frugal side decided against throwing them out since that would make the cigarettes a waste of money.

Instead, I decided to get myself going for the day. I had a shower, made some breakfast and tried to start some homework. Everything was going as per usual until I tried to do my work. For some reason I could not concentrate. My mind kept drifting to cigarettes and my eyes would follow these thoughts by looking at the pack that still rested on the bedside table. It did not seem like my mind would let me concentrate until I gave in and had a cigarette.

The contemplation of actually giving in and having the cigarette made my heart start to race and actually made me slightly wet. My bad girl was fully awake now and she was practically begging me to have one. I reasoned that I might as well since I was getting no work done just sitting there and thinking about it.

I grabbed the cigarettes, my lighter and made my way to the near by park where I indulged late the evening before. I sat myself on the bench and placed one of the long white, skinny cigarettes in my mouth. My mouth started to salivate in anticipation. Two cigarettes and I was already conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I struggled with the lighter a moment as I was still not skilled with it and finally brought the flame to the tip.

Within seconds I felt the slightly bitter, minty flavour flood my mouth and I instinctively pulled the smoke into my lungs. For some reason, instead of exhaling right away I just held it in for a couple of seconds. The smoke felt both good and bad in there, like it was both suffocating and bringing me life at the same time. By the time I exhaled very little visible smoke came out.

I continued taking smaller, well-spaced drags, as I still did not want to overwhelm my body with nicotine. There were some people that walked through the park, but I scarcely noticed them as I was too focused on the task at hand. As I inhaled and exhaled smoke I contemplated whether I wanted to continue smoking. Not surprisingly, in the throws of the euphoria brought on by the nicotine the answer was yes, yes, yes. No doubt, I would have some misgivings later. I watched as the cigarette grew shorter and shorter and thought about how it was me that was controlling that. I noticed that the filter was getting browner and browner and grew somewhat excited that I was defiling myself in such a way. I’d always been the good girl or at least on the exterior I had been. I think I was growing tired of trying to live up to an ideal.

I almost did not notice that the cigarette was done, as I had gotten lost in my thoughts. I stubbed it out and buried the butt somewhere. I really needed to find a proper place to dispose of butts or it was really going to weigh on my conscience. This time getting up, I did not feel dizzy but the high was still there. It felt really good, but by the time I made my way home it was already starting to damped a little. I also felt very focused and decided that I should put my buzz to good use and do some homework. While I was getting more work done than previously, my mind was now preoccupied with Drew and seeing him again.

The hours seemed to drag as I waited 2 pm to arrive. We were set to meet at the little coffee shop. I started to get ready about an hour before, as I wanted to look good for Drew. I left my hair curly but applied make-up to my eyes and wore a tinted lipgloss that made my lips slightly redder than they were normally. I couldn’t help but worry about what Drew might be thinking after my strange behavior of the previous day. I also wondered whether I should take the cigarettes with me or not. But in the end I decided it was silly not to, as I knew the moment I saw Drew light up, I would want one too.

Butterflies in my stomach, cigarettes in my purse, I headed toward the coffee shop to meet Drew. It hard to believe this was actually supposed to be a homework date. As I approached the coffee shop, I saw Drew leaning up against the wall of coffee shop, smoking a cigarette of course. He seemed to startle when he saw me and almost looked like he was contemplating putting his cigarette out on account of me. Considering how adamant he was earlier about the fact that he was not quitting this was really odd behavior.

“Hey.” I said

“Hey…” Drew eyed me a little hesitantly. He still had a half smoked cigarette burning between his fingers and seemed oddly uncomfortable with it. It was odd to see this normally confident smoker, so awkward.

Sensing his unease I said, “You don’t have to worry about smoking around me. It doesn’t bother me and never has.”
“I just thought that after yesterday…” His voice trailed off.

“You thought wrong. I’ll admit, making myself sick yesterday did freak me out a bit. But that had nothing to do with you. You did not make me smoke. I did so out of my own free will. But obviously it didn’t freak me out enough.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let me show you.” I was a little nervous about bringing out my own cigarettes and smoking in front of Drew after what happened last time, but I figured it was the best way to show him. I took the pack out, and freed a cigarette from it. As I placed it between my lips my gaze met his and I could see him trying to puzzle me out. I continued to look him straight in the eyes and as I started to bring the lighter toward my cigarette he beat me to it with his own. I drew lightly on the cigarette until it was lit and blew out the first puff uninhaled.

“Are you sure you want to?” Drew asked, “It is easy to start, but much harder to quit. I just don’t want you to start something you will later regret.”

“Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure want I want, but I’m willing to risk addiction and my health to find out”

“When did you buy your own and how many have you smoked since then?” He questioned as he took a deep drag off his dwindling cigarette.

“ Last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about smoking. It was a little ridiculous actually. I know I’m not physically addicted yet, but mentally there is definitely a hook drawing me in. “ I replied taking my first real drag off the cigarette. I held it in enjoying the feeling of the nicotine as it washed over me. “This is my third cigarette from this pack. I had one this morning already” As I talked, I saw the residual smoke leave my body.

“You seem to be enjoying it.” He commented.

I took another drag, inhaled and smiled, “I’m enjoying it more than I anticipated.”

“I don’t feel so bad then. I felt really bad about yesterday. I felt like I shouldn’t have given you a whole cigarette.”

“But you didn’t force me to smoke it the way I did. You even warned me to take it easy.”

“ Okay- I want you to swear to me that you will not blame your future addiction on me then.” He said with a smirk, “ You have to shake on it.”

“ How do you know I’m going to be addicted, some people get away with smoking occasionally or lightly for many years without being addicted.” Even as I said the words I knew this would not be true for me.

He smiled, “From the look in your eyes as you pull smoke from that cigarette into your lungs, I wager that it won’t be long. You seem to want to be a smoker, even though the part of you that has resisted for so many years is still unsure. So will promise not to blame me?”

Putting my hand over my heart, in a solemn voice I stated, “I, Melanie Smith, will not hold Drew Roberts accountable for my future cigarette addiction.” I switched my cigarette from my right hand to my left and extended my right for him to shake. He grabbed it firmly and laughed as he shook it. By this point his cigarette was spent, so he lit another to keep me company while I finished mine. He could smoke a cigarette much faster than I at this point. But it was getting easier and easier. Drew was right; it wouldn’t be long until I was giving in completely. I could feel my resistance weakening with every puff. We stubbed out our cigarettes and entered the coffee shop to do the less pleasant task of editing our essays. Less pleasant than smoking anyhow.

Chapter Eight