Chain Smoker & Chain Smoker Continuum

27 Nov

By Jeanette Navarro
12th Grade

Chain Smoker

“I’d like a three pump, grande, whole milk, half soy, iced vanilla latte in a venti cup with seven ice cubes in it and extra whipped cream with a dome lid at the top.”
Uh.
What?
“Oh and extra caramel drizzle please!”
Okay.
What?

Maybe I was too busy thinking
about how the spaces between my fingers fit yours perfectly
or maybe it was the ridiculous requests that made me
question the modern diet in America:
where a drink like that wasn’t normal
but wasn’t obscure either.

“Yeah, it’s her regular.”

And perhaps the drink was a consistency to her,
like cigarettes were to you.
Or maybe it was that she specified seven ice cubes, instead of ten, or five.
Just like you only have seven freckles
In obscure places.
Like underneath your chin. Tucked away from the world
and only seen by those few with the honor
of getting to lean in and kiss you.

But, I can’t blame her.
There’s comfort in routine and maybe
she liked being known for her complexity
rather than for her diet—
Just like you’d rather me call you
“punk” instead of “beautiful”
because your dad once called you beautiful
and that was the last time you spoke to him.

You stand so tall and so proud,
with a cigarette in one hand and a coffee cup in the other.
And you opt out from wearing dresses,
they limit you.
You’ve never liked having boundaries.

I remember when you first told me you loved me,
you leaned in and
whispered in my ear
and I could smell the last pack of
Newports you smoked.
It meant the world to me.
Your lips were pressed against mine and
for a second,
all I could think about was
being with you for eternity.

But the ice melts,
and the soy tastes funky after it’s been sitting
in a plastic cup for a while,
mixed with dairy—
there’s a reason the two don’t mix.

I guess I forgot that you were a chain smoker and
I,
I was just another pack of cigarettes.

***

Chain Smoker Continuum

“I’m going on my break,”
I announced to my coworkers.
I grabbed my hoodie
and my bag and then
proceeded to head out to the back.

It was cold out,
65 degrees and windy. The air pushed against my fingers,
giving me the sense
of you once more.

I reached to grab the single cigarette I had left—
the last one in the pack
that you forgot about and left underneath my bed.
I’d been saving it.
Hoping that maybe,
you’d remember that you left it behind,
alone
in that empty pack.
Full of empty memories and promises
we once made
to each other.

I lit it.
And for the first time
I did it without you guiding my hands,
telling me what to do.

I stared at the fire,
challenging it.
My first intake was our first kiss,
so sweet and innocent.
I’d given you that.
The smoke reached my lungs
and then
hugged my heart.
It whispered your name,
and for a second I was with you.
But the smoke turned into fire
and my lungs were burning
and my heart was screaming
screaming
screaming
at you for leaving me

YOU NEVER LOVED ME
YOU NEVER CARED FOR ME
I WAS NEVER IMPORTANT TO YOU

I could hear you laughing,
telling me to cough and
that it was all going to be okay.
I held the cigarette between my fingers for a while,
maybe you were smoking one yourself, too.

And maybe you were thinking about me,
too.
But I’ll never know.
I put the cigarette in between my lips,
one last time
but I didn’t inhale.
I set it on the ground and
left it there,
sitting underneath a table.
But this time it wasn’t alone.
It was outside,
burning
waiting for its next victim.

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