The rest of the day was much more productive as far as studying went. I had almost forgot about smoking until I stuck my hand into the front pocket of my hoodie. Remarkably, the cigarette that Alex had given me was intact and just feeling it there in my pocket made me want to smoke it. Although I had told Lindsay about my budding habit, I still felt a little weird smoking around her. I retrieved my lighter from the back pocket of my jeans and moved it to join the cigarette in my front pocket. That way, I would have easy access when we left.

Still feeling a bit chicken, I hesitated a bit before I got up the nerve to ask Lindsay if she minded if I smoked as we walked. I pulled the cigarette and lighter out and asked,
“Do you mind if I smoke?”

“If you must…” Lindsay said sarcastically and rolled her eyes. I could tell she was just giving me a hard time in jest. Before I could retort she added, “Actually… I’m kind of curious, since you so don’t seem like the ‘smoking type’ ”

This only made me more nervous and self-conscious, because I felt like I was putting on a show now.

“Come on, now. Don’t be shy, Mel.” She smiled knowing she was making me nervous.

I put the cigarette between my lips and fired it up. Knowing I was being watched and wanting to seem convincing, I drew on the cigarette a long time before releasing the cigarette and inhaling. I also held that puff in for as long as I could, as if I was trying to prove to Lindsay I was a real smoker. Only a small wisp of smoke trickled out when I finally exhaled, my eyes closing and a small smile reaching my lips. I couldn’t help but let out an audible sigh. It had been 4 or 5 hours since my last cigarette.

“It feels that good, eh?” Lindsay remarked, looking somewhat pensive. I could tell the wheels were turning in her head. She was think about my smoking.

“It does when you haven’t smoked in awhile. I guess I must be starting to be addicted.”

“Does that bother you?” she asked.

“If you had asked me this morning, I probably would have said yes. But that was only because I was depriving myself. Speaking of which… at some point I need to stop off at the store for supplies.”

“What are we doing tonight? It was going to be a girls night at your house, right?”

“Drew gave me his keys. He has a big screen TV and we could both sleep in his king size bed. Why don’t we do girls night there?” I inhaled another drag off the cigarette, thinking of my ulterior motives for having a girl’s night at Drew’s. Mainly, it would make it easier for me to smoke. And maybe if Lindsay got drunk enough, she might even be okay with me smoking inside. I wouldn’t push my luck to begin with though.

“Sounds like a plan. So… video stores first, liquor store for wine and to the convenience store for your supplies”

“You are forgetting food. We need to either pick up food too…”

“I almost forgot about food… I didn’t think you needed food now that you have cigarettes. Isn’t that what models live off of?” She winked at me. She was having way too much fun with this, but admittedly I preferred the teasing to being ditched as a friend.

“I’m no model and last time I checked you were not living off cigarettes.”

“Pizza then?”

“Sounds good.”

Two hours later, we were sitting in the comfort of Drew’s apartment eating pizza working on our first bottle of white zinfandel while watching chick flicks. The wine was starting to make me feel tipsy and I felt what was becoming a familiar desire. Not wanting to inconvenience, Lindsay, I informed her I was going out to the balcony for a smoke. She simply nodded and continued to watch the movie we had on.

Having enjoyed the B&H Gold 100s, but fearing they might be too strong for an everyday cigarette, I bought three different kinds of cigarettes: B&H Gold 100s, B&H Silver 100s and B&H Menthol 100s. I still wasn’t sure if I liked regular or menthol, but I did like the way the long white cigarettes looked between my fingers. I decided to open the Silvers to start. I leisurely smoked one of these and every once and awhile I caught Lindsay look at me. If I had to guess, she was still trying to puzzle out my smoking.

When I came inside she did not seem to know what to say to me. It was like she was curious about my smoking but horrified by it at the same time. I could tell by the way she looked at me it both puzzled and intrigued her. We continued to watch chick flicks and drink wine. About halfway through the second movie and the second bottle of wine, I felt like having another cigarette. The wine buzz seemed to pair well with the nicotine buzz and the only thing that was keeping me from smoking more was having to get up to go outside.

I picked up my pack and lighter and started walking towards the balcony when I heard Lindsay say, “You can smoke inside. I don’t mind. Beside, doesn’t Drew smoke inside the apartment?”

“He does… but are you sure? I mean, I don’t mind going outside. It gets pretty smoky in here.” I really didn’t mind going outside. I understood that smoke could be noxious to those that don’t smoke.

“I really don’t mind…” She slurred the words a bit so I could tell that perhaps her inhibitions were lowered due to the wine.

“Okay- but just remember that it was you that said this was okay. I’m probably going to end up smoking more now that I don’t have to get up.” I retrieved the ashtray from the kitchen table at placed it on the coffee table beside me. Lindsay was taking my smoking far better than I had expected. It was weird actually.

“Aye, aye… capitaine!” she giggled.

“Are you drunk, Lindsay?”

“Aye… well I should be… Mel we’ve drank almost two bottles of wine between the two of us.”

“This is true. Perhaps the nicotine keeps me from feeling as drunk as I am.” I said lighting up my fourth cigarette of the day.

As I savored this cigarette in my semi-drunk state, I could feel Lindsay’s eyes on me. Given she was drunk, she was no longer subtle about staring at me smoking and frankly it was making me a little self-conscious.

“Do I look good?” I asked, blowing the smoke purposefully in her direction. That should knock her out of her trance. But she didn’t flinch… she just nodded. She must be too drunk to care. I kept smoking, and stole a glance over at Lindsay. I knew the look in her eyes. Yearning. She wanted to try, but was probably too chicken to ask- especially after the shit she gave me in the library when I told her and all that crap about never wanting to defile her lungs. Part of me wanted to get Lindsay to try smoking in the hopes of having a new smoking buddy. The other part of me, the part of me that continually tried to prevent me from starting smoking told me that it was an entirely selfish reason for introducing someone to an addictive drug. That first part of me reasoned that as long as I didn’t pressure her or do anything beyond offer, it wouldn’t be like she was doing anything against her will. My conscience countered with a good point: does she really have a will when her judgment is impaired. The more morally relaxed part of me reasoned that she still had judgment it simply was without inhibition now.

Making my choice, I wordlessly offered my half-smoked cigarette to Lindsay. The look she gave was half terrified and half yearning. I could see she was having her own inner battle as to whether or not to take the cigarette. Just as I was about to retract my offering, I felt Lindsay’s hand come over top of mine and the lightweight of the burning cylinder disappeared. Lindsay had made her choice.

Chapter 13