Jane and I jumped into my (parents) car and I dropped her off. As Jane was leaving my car, she said quietly,”Thanks for being so understanding.”

To think, I was worried about what Jane would think, “You know, I was just thinking the same thing. Thanks to you as well. I think you are stuck with me as a friend,” I laughed.

“See you at Christmas break, but keep in touch between now and then.”Jane ended as she shut the door to the car and walked up to her house.

I drove back to my parents feeling more relaxed and satisfied than I had felt in a long while.

When I got home, the front door was locked so I let myself in with my key. The lights were off, except for in the kitchen. It was 11:30 pm by the time I got home, so went into the kitchen to see if anyone was still awake. I thought perhaps Anna was taking advantage of her new found smoking freedom and smoking on the deck. Nobody was in the kitchen proper, so I looked out the window, and who is sitting out on the deck but none other than my mother and father.

The gas fireplace my dad had put in last year was on, and my mother and father each had a half-full glass of red wine beside them. Between Dad’s index and middle finger, there was a smoldering cigarette. I couldn’t see if my mom was smoking from the angle I was looking at them. I almost didn’t want to disturb them but my mom saw me looking and ushered me over. Not wanting to disappoint my mother, I made my way to the patio. As I walked in my mom greeted me with:

“Oh Mel, it is so beautiful out tonight! Please sit with us for a bit!” my mother drawled, her words almost slurring but not quiet. That was not her first glass of wine sitting in front of her. Not only that, but she too was smoking a cigarette. She took the superslim cigarette to her mouth, drew on it, inhale and exhaled a sizable plume into the night sky. It was still weird to watch her smoke but she seemed much more comfortable tonight. My dad was grinning like the Cheshire cat. That was weird too.

I sat down and both my mom and dad offered me their packs of cigarettes at the same time. They laughed and I took one from mom as I felt all I could handle post smoking two back to back with Jane was a light. My Dad had his lighter ready to light me up and within a minute of sitting down, I was smoking with my parents. If you had told me on Thursday night that this is what I’d be doing with my parents Sunday night, I would have laughed at you. It was still super strange to 1) smoke in front of my parents and 2) see my mom smoke.

“Did you have a good day with Jane?” Mom inquired sweetly. Her sweetness was juxtaposed by the rather long drag she took off the cigarette. It was almost aggressive and was definitely that of an experienced smoker. I guess smoking must be like riding a bike.

“It was fine. Jane is liking university.”I said, taking a more leisurely drag off my cigarette.

“Oh that is good, I’ve always liked Jane.” My mom replied, starting to look a bit sleepy. She took a final drag off her cigarette and put it out and stated looking directly at my dad, “Well I’m off to bed. You coming honey?”

My dad’s cigarette was maybe half smoked, “I’ll be there in a few minutes. I want to finish this first.”

“I’ll be waiting for you…”She said, almost seductively. I pretended to myself that it didn’t sound seductive.

Once she had left, I remarked to my dad, “Smoking again, eh? Did you do anything to make that happen?”

“Not really. Mel, as you’ve probably already discovered, nicotine is a powerful motivator on its own. We were simply drinking a couple of glasses of wine and I told her I was going out to smoke and she said she’d join me. At first, I thought that she was just going to sit with me but she brought those cigarettes you bought for her and a lighter.”

“Hmmm well honestly, if she likes smoking as much as I do, I don’t see her smoking this casually for long.”

” Yep… smart girl you are,” My dad smiled, took another long pull off his cigarette.

“You knew all along that if you could get mom to smoke one more time, she’d start again, didn’t you?” I asked.

“I can’t be sure, even now, but I suspect the way this is going, your mom will be smoking regularly by Christmas.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about my role in encouraging this. I seem to have this effect on people. So far, since I’ve started- my friend Lindsay at university has tried it, mom smoked again and now Jane.”

“What? You got Jane of all people to smoke?” My dad asked, incredulously.

“I know! And I even kept asking her, ‘Are you sure?’ but she wanted to try it. She was always so anti, I don’t get it.”

“Well, I don’t know if you catch the pattern, but sometimes people that are the most anti and the ones that are the most curious about it.”

“Maybe. Jane’s situation was a bit more complicated. I think she was trying to deflect a bit.” I sighed and took another pull off my cigarette. It was hard to draw any significant smoke off of these, as they were skinny but the menthol flavour was a nice change. “I guess I should be happy that she accepted me as a smoker.”

“You were worried about that?” Dad asked, finishing his cigarette.

“Yeah, you remember Jane. She was pretty militant. I remember once she smelled smoke on my clothes from you and she wouldn’t talk to me for the whole day. She has come a ways from that person.”

“University can change people. Often, people become more open minded as they become more savvy about the world. Well, your mom is probably waiting for me.” He smiled and winked.

“Yeah, I should get to bed too. Someone has to drop me off at the bus for noon.” I replied also finishing my cigarette. I felt super relaxed and sleepy at this point.

We both entered the house and I went up to my room. I brushed my teeth and practically sunk into my bed. It had been a good day. Tomorrow, it was back to the grind of university.

Monday started very similarly to Sunday. It was a holiday because of Thanksgiving and my parents were both up when I came down for breakfast. My dad was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper, mom was taking some sort of breakfast casserole from the oven.

We ate, dad and I had a cigarette and then they drove me to the bus station and dropped me off about an hour early.

About 10 minutes before I knew they would call me to board, I decided to go smoke a cigarette, my second of the day. I was feeling the most comfortable I’d ever felt as a smoker, probably because this weekend felt like a real turning point. And it was. In more ways than I realized at the time.

My bus stopped in a city halfway to my destination. I didn’t really need a cigarette but smelling the smoke wafting from my fellow travelers on the way to the bathroom, I decided I felt like one. This cigarette wasn’t as frantic as the one that I had smoked in the same location only three days prior. It was relaxed and smoking felt better than ever. Another hour and half on the bus and I arrived at my destination.

Drew was waiting in the bus station, looking as cool as ever.  My heart melted when I saw him. I walk towards him as quickly as possible, dropped my bags and wrapped my arms around him. He planted a wet kiss on my lips and we just stood there kissing for awhile.

“Mmmm you taste delicious,” Drew hummed into my ear. “I was scared you were going to spontaneously give up smoking instead of tell your parents.”

“Well I didn’t chicken out. Actually, things worked out better than expected. It all ended really weirdly, but my family has totally accepted me as a smoker.”

“Really? That is great!” Drew exclaimed, picking up my suitcase.

“I know, I’ll tell you the whole story on the ride home.” We walked out of the bus terminal to the parking lot, Drew through my bag into the trunk and we both got in. Drew lit his customary driving cigarette and while I didn’t need to smoke yet, I wanted to join him and lit up as well.

“So where do you want me to start?”I asked, looking over at him in his Ray Bans, with a cigarette dangling free-hand from his mouth.

He took a drag, inhaled, held the smoke in and was now holding the cigarette between his index and middle finger. Smoke punctuating his words he replied,  “The beginning of course. I want to hear it all.”

With that, he pulled out of the parking lot and I told him everything, smoke pouring out our respective windows.