I slept in until 10 am the next day, feeling just a touch foggy the next day. I showered first and then went down to join my Dad at the kitchen table. He was visibly more relaxed and less tense. Mom, just like yesterday morning, was making breakfast but also seemed more relaxed. She was whistling to herself as she grate a bit of cheese on to the top of a frittata she was finishing up.

“Good morning, Mel, “Mom greeted smiling. She was almost too happy. Same with Dad. What happened last night after I went to bed? I don’t even want to know. “Did you sleep well?”

“I did, although that sangria was a touch strong, my head is a little cloudy.” I remarked, looking at my parents a bit confused.

“Oh, yeah I felt a bit like that when I first woke up, coffee helped perk me up. You want some?” She asked, grabbing the coffee pot.

“Yes, please.” I replied.

My dad leaned over and said quietly, “Your mom will probably kill me for suggesting this, but sometimes a cigarette in the morning after a night of drinks, clears the cobwebs, if you know what I mean. You want to join me?”

I leaned over to him, “Before breakfast? I don’t normally smoke first thing.”

“Suit yourself, but that is where I’ll be.”He said getting up from the table, he walked over to mom, grabbed his pack which he was no longer concealing and headed to the back porch.

I waited for a bit, not sure of what to do. Should I stay and chat with mom? What will she think? I know she knows but it is sober mom. What if she has reverted back overnight? What if it was all a dream?

As if reading my thoughts my mom reassured me, “Oh you’ve got enough time to join your Dad for a smoke if you want one before breakfast. Don’t feel like you have to stay here with me.”

So weird, I thought, but how could I no oblige the very open invitation to smoke from both my parents. I ran upstairs to grab my Benson and Hedges Gold as I felt a stronger cigarette would be better this morning. I stepped outside to join my Dad who was already smoking.

“Decided to come did you? Hard to turn down an opportunity to smoke, eh” He mused taking another drag from his cigarette.

“Mom said I had enough time…Can I just say, you two seem so much happier this morning.” I noted as I put the cigarette in my mouth, brought the flame to the tip and puffed on it to get it lit.

“Well, I’m not sure what you said last night to Mom to get her to smoke, but I thank you. Even if she decides never to smoke again she is 100% more pleasant to be around already.”

“Turns out she was just jealous of you and she had constructed all these rules and reasons in her head as to why she couldn’t smoke and resented you a little because you could. All I said is that Anna and I are grown now and have made our own decisions regarding smoking in spite of her not smoking so she should do what she wants and not worry so much about appearances,” I explained, taking a three second drag off my cigarette, inhaling and holding for three more seconds before exhalling. “God that feels good…I don’t think I’ll be going back to lights after this.”

“Haha, you remind me of myself. Nothing quite like filling the lungs with thick, rich smoke.”

“I know. I realized that last night after smoking those super slims, fairly satisfying, but felt like I was inhaling air. I’m going to leave those with you. I figure you can keep them for Mom if she ever feels like smoking again.” I continued to focus on smoking my cigarette, inhale, exhale the feeling of focused but energized relaxation washing over my body.

“I guess time will tell,” my father remarked, equally as focused on his smoking. “To be honest, Mel, I don’t care if she does. It will just be nice to be left alone and to stop sneaking around. I mean I wasn’t doing a good job of sneaking…”

“You’ve never done a good job of sneaking, Dad. I suspect on some level you didn’t really care if she knew, you just were trying to avoid a fight.”

“You know, dear, you are probably right about that. “He said, taking a final drag off his cigarette before putting in out in the metal coffee canister he used for butts. “What are your plans for today?” He asked, residual smoke punctuating his words.

I inhaled a final puff off my cigarette before answering, talking the smoke out rather than exhaling, “Oh you know, seeing my friend Jane. I ran into her at the mall and she wants to meet me for coffee.”

“Sounds like fun. Shall we go eat?”

“Let’s.” I said following him into the house. We ate breakfast and had pleasant conversation. Anna still had not emerged and it was 11 am. I decided to phone my friend Jane and make plans for coffee that afternoon. I was starting to feel a little nervous about meeting with Jane but really she knew already so perhaps I could just get away with not talking about it. I did a bit of reading and at quarter to 2 I decided to go have a smoke before meeting up with her. I was meeting her at 2 at the coffee shop down the road from my house.

I saw Anna lounging in her bedroom so I thought I would invite her along, seeing as she no longer needed to sneak around.

“Wanna have a smoke with me?” I asked, poking my head into her room.

“Sure, I haven’t had one yet. Nor have I tested out my new freedom. I almost can’t believe it is true. I’ll be honest, I’m a little jealous that mom didn’t give you a harder time,” she said, smirking and grabbing her cigarettes from the spot that she hid them in, “I guess I don’t need to hide these anymore.”

“Nope. Not complete freedom, at least not until you are 18, but no more sneaking.” I remarked as we headed down the stairs to the backdoor.

Mom was sitting on the couch in the living room reading a book. She looked up, and asked, “Going out for a smoke?”

Both Anna and I gave each other a sheepish look and I said, “Yes. We are.” Feeling a little emboldened by last night, after a pause I added, “Want to join us?”

Anna jabbed me in the ribs and indignantly said my name under her breath. I was still looking at Mom, but I could feel her glaring at me.

Mom paused for a moment, almost making me think that she would join us, then replied calmly with a smile on her face, “Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll pass for this afternoon. You girls enjoy yourself.” She went back to reading her book and Anna and passed through the patio door to the deck, the house’s now official smoking area.

“Mel, I almost died when you invited her. It would be so awkward to smoke in front on her given the hard time she has given me,” Anna gasped, still annoyed that I invited her.

“I didn’t think she would say yes, but I thought it would be polite to ask. She surprised me when she paused, I almost thought she was going to say yes,” I said extracting a cigarette from my pack, placing it between my lips and leisurely lighting it up. Smoking no longer felt so urgent now that it was out in the open.

Anna did the same and as she exhaled her first puff she agreed,” I know! My heart was pounding. I’m glad I don’t have to go to the roof  to smoke anymore. That was always a bit sketchy in the winter. Now as long as I don’t start smoking a lot more, I’ll be good.”

“I’ll buy you a couple packs before I leave.”I said, taking another long draw off my cigarette. I was really enjoying the full-flavoured. They hardly seemed stronger anymore.

“Thanks, sis. You are the best. So what are you going to tell Jane?” She asked.

“Nothing to tell her, she already saw me smoking. I’m not bringing it up unless she does. That is why I’m smoking now.” I responded.

“That seems like a good plan. Jane was always pretty anti-smoking. Remember when she said she wouldn’t be friends with any of you if you started smoking”

“Yep. I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t a little bit worried. But I figured the fact that she said yes to coffee is a good sign.”I noted taking at long draw  off my cigarette, snap inhaling it into my lungs.

“Or she is going to grill you… or stage an intervention!!!” Anna teased.

“Quiet you!”I said, putting out my cigarette, “I need to get going. I’ll tell you all about it this evening.” Anna finished her cigarette and I headed to the car and she headed back up to her room. Time to go meet Jane.

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