I choked on the smoke I just tried to inhale. I started coughing and smoking came sputtering out of my mouth and my nose. After I had regained my composure and oxygen to my lungs, I looked at my Dad in disbelief.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I retorted.

“No, I’ve been thinking about this a long time. I think it is the only way I will have peace with her over this. We’ve fought about this for too long. She used to really love to smoke. I actually never thought she would stay quit. But then she did and as she did, she became more and more anti-smoking as the years went on. I think some part of her still really wants to smoke, which is why she tries to keep away from any reminder of her former habit. Unfortunately, she has also pushed me away. I’ve tried to quit so many times for her. But I never wanted to quit. You can’t quit for someone else. I think she took my failures personally, that somehow I didn’t love her enough to quit.” As he spoke, there was a sadness in his eyes. I could tell that this is something that had pained him for a long time.

“I’m sorry, Dad. That must be really hard for you.” By this point my cigarette was almost done. I put it out and gave him a hug.

“It is okay, Mel.” He sighed, heavily. “Do you want to have another?” He said offering his pack.

“Oh.. um okay. This is a bit weird, smoking with you.” I took the pack from him and realized that while I knew that my Dad smoked on and off for many years, he kept it hidden well enough that I didn’t even know what kind of cigarettes he smoked. They were the same cigarettes as Drew. It was kind of nice smoking with my Dad. We both lit up and smoked in silence for a bit.

I broke the silence, “I still think you are crazy to think you can get Mom to smoke again.”

“I actually don’t think it will be that hard. You are going to be a big part of this plan.” He said confidently.

“How?” I asked, wide eyed. “She is going to be so angry that I started smoking, she is going to kill me.”

“Oh yes, if you walked in right now and told her you started smoking, she would be so mad she would probably stop paying for your schooling. But you aren’t going to tell her right now.”

“I was avoiding telling her anyways.” I sighed.

“My plan involves telling her but requires so liquid help.”

I gasped. “You are going to get Mom drunk and then get her to try smoking again?”

“Something like that.” He nodded, taking a pull from his cigarette. “Your mom pretty much only drinks at special occasions but occasionally she will over-indulge mostly over the holidays. Since you are of age now, I need you to make sure your mom’s wine glass stays full so she doesn’t realize how much she is drinking. Toward the end of the night when she is feeling pretty good (and drunk) you are going to tell her that you sometimes like to smoke when you drink and you are going to insist she come with you. She isn’t going to like it, but I think she will because it is you.”

“Because it is me?” I questioned, puzzled.

“Oh, don’t play dumb. You know you are your mom’s favourite. That is why it kills you to tell her that you started smoking.”

“You and mom don’t have favourites…” I said only half believing myself. Of course I was my mom’s favourite, that is why Anna had so much pressure to try live up to the standard I set.

“Oh come on, Mel. For someone so smart, sometimes you can’t see something that is right in front of you.”

“Ok, I’ll do it.”

“You will?”

“Do I have a choice?”I sighed. “I mean, I don’t like the idea of keeping my smoking from mom forever and I hate to see you unhappy Dad. I’m not sure how I feel about purposefully getting my mother to smoke, but in my mind I guess I can rationalize it by saying that I’m not getting her to do something she has never done before. I’ll introduce her, but that is it. You are on your own after that, Dad.”

“Of course, Mel. I think once will be enough to plant the seed. I have a second phase of the plan if she doesn’t start smoking again right away. I just need you for phase one.”

“Sounds like you’ve been planning this for awhile? How did you know I’d start smoking?” I asked, pondering the thought that perhaps I was destined to be a smoker.

“I didn’t know. Actually, I’m really surprised, even though I think it suits you. I just fantasized about doing it myself, only now that you are here and you smoke, I think she will be much more receptive to you than she will me.”

“Why me?”

“Really Mel? We already went over this. Your mom holds you on a pedestal. Mel can do no wrong in her mind. Except this time you’ve done something really wrong. At least she might see it that way. But if you can be human, maybe she can too, you know?”

“I get it Dad. I think I have an idea on how to get her drunk.” I noted thinking back to a Pinterest recipe for Thanksgiving sangria, the dangerously potent punch made from wine, fruit juice and fortified with brandy and triple sec.

“I’m all ears, Mel.”

We finished scheming and smoking and headed back inside. Mom scrunched her nose at how Dad and I smelled as we walked in.

“Took you long enough..” She said. “Get lost in the recycling?”

My dad just smiled. I pretended to watch whatever was on TV. Tomorrow it was game on.

Chapter Nineteen