We sat in chairs on the second-story wooden deck talking, a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other.
We sipped and then took a drag, breathing in the nicotine and exhaling the remnants.
In. Out. In. Out.
The smoke disappeared into the night.
I laughed at a joke he made as I glanced over to see the side of his young, handsome face, illuminated by a distant but bright street light.
Our only view was the hard, brick wall of the next apartment building. No stars, only city lights.
We were just friends.
We put out our cigarettes. It was getting late.
He kissed me on the cheek and I locked the door behind him.
I went to bed alone, after brushing the cigarette taste from my mouth.
In the dead of the night I awoke to a crackling noise.
My nose smelled it right away.
I was suddenly flush with adrenalin as I ran from my comfy bed.
And there, on the other side of the window the bright orange flames danced their dance.
Burning, smoking, scaring.
After the firemen left my whole apartment smelled like smoke, even though the fire barely got in.
I sat on the sofa by myself and bawled, thinking of how much worse it could have been.
I was tired from the 3 a.m. wake up. I wanted to go back to bed but there was no way.
I don’t know whose cigarette wasn’t put out all the way. Could have been his. Could have been mine.
I wanted my Mommy but she was 200 miles away and there was nothing she could do. But scold me.
I sat there for hours watching t.v., finally the sun coming in through the now shattered window.
I stopped smoking.
For a while anyway…
This was written in response to the memoir prompt at The Red Dress Club in which the inspiration was a photo of an ashtray with burning cigarettes. I do not currently smoke. I smoked casually at this time in my life and usually just “bummed” them off of my friends. They fixed the deck of my apartment and I never smoked there again. If you are my mother and you are reading this, it’s okay Mom. 😉 You can breathe again.