Beth was 11 or 12, she hung around our house and used to pretend to ride the dog as if he were a pony. She had thick curly brown hair and a snub nose, freckles. She looked like a Mary Jane. She looked like the girl next door. She used to pick clover out of our lawn and roll it up in toilet paper and try to smoke it. It never stayed lit. The clover was too wet. Beth started smoking when she was 17. She smoked Marlboro Lights.

Michelle was 8 or 9 when she used to steal my mom's cigarettes and take each Kool out and break it, then put them back into the package, carefully replacing the cellophane on the outside of the soft pack. She would hold her breath until she turned crimson if my mom lit up in the car. When she was 19 she started smoking Marlboro Reds. She was the last one we thought would ever do it. She quit a year later. She's 25 now. When she gets drunk, she will beg cigarettes from people at the bar.

Vanessa and Evelina were 17 when they bought cherry flavored little cigars and smoked them on the deck after drinking peach schnapps. There is a picture of Vanessa with a dirty dove's thick cloud of smoke wrapping around her face. Her eyes are red from the flash.

Before she started smoking, she was a good girl. Young, athletic, brilliant, a strong member of the 8th grade pom team, and a normal student. Then came high school, and with it, influences beyond her wildest imagination. New people, new sensations, havin' a party life. A smoke every now and then helps mellow things out. Then came marijuana, and boy what a rush that was! The illicit drugs came and she accepted them just the same.

Before, she started smoking to be part of the crowd. It was rude to decline an offer while everyone else around you was doing it. Besides, it didn't matter much, she didn't really care. Then she smoked to relaxe and to hang out. She started smoking new things, and it felt great. Finally as the hard drugs came around the table, she wasn't quite sure why she started smoking them ...

But she smoked it anyways.

I wasn't this type of guy. Sure I was shy and outgoing at the same time, but I was a good kid. Quite a bit older than her too. I had never really cared for typical rebellious adolescent activities in my youth. I never really saw her as my type either; well, atleast on the outside she wasn't. She was wild and a crazy party-goer while I was a laid back and suave guy. Mabye even a bit non sequitur. I never really ran with her crowd. What was so enticing about this girl? Lust? Something about her eyes...

I asked her why she smoked cigarettes. She said she didn't know. She didn't do it much anyways. I asked why she smoked illicit drugs. I asked her it the highs were worth the crash. She said hell no. Then why? Was she really a smart girl? Despite doing incredibly stupid things and creating this outer image, I knew she was a smart girl on the inside. I could see it in her eyes, past her facade. But smoking had become a part of her life.

"You can do better than her," I was told. Did they know who she really was?

"Wow, she is such a bitch." All I could see was this innocent, confused girl. A girl, in her own strange silent way, crying out for help. She was struggling, but what could I do? I was helpless. Perhaps it was I who needed the help.

This account is fiction based off of some fact/experience. Submitted to Everything Quests - Smoking.

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