Let me tell you my secret about cigarettes: I love them. I love them I love them I love them. I love the feel of them. I love carrying them. Even if I never have finished a pack I love looking in my bag and finding that stupid white mutilated carton that’s all bent up and battered from sitting there for ages, me transferring it from bag to bag to purse to pocket every day. I love giving them away. I love pulling out that stupid white carton and opening it up all slick and sultry and usually inebriated and flipping the foil out of my way and holding it out.

I love the memory of you taking one, squinting at me in the sun.

I love smoking them, and I hate hate hate hate hate not daring to let myself when I’m by myself. I was addicted before I started I was so in love, and if I let the nicotine get to me too I’m fucked. Lung cancer it is, then, I guess.

I love them.

I love that when I stumbled on you today -- you who is half the reason these awful little cancer sticks became sex in my soul -- I found you on the ground with that hot white paper rolled between fingers right up by your face, on a wall, and it was broken. You and the little brown mangled leaves spilling from the seams and you contemplating how to put it back together. And there was me. Drunk as usual. Drunk at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and I got to offer you another, you in disbelief you do not have any cigarettes you do not oh but I do. I do. I’ve been dreaming of smoking here with you for ages, you stupid fool and here we are.

What a perfect way to say goodbye.

I love cigarettes. I want to pull over and light one. I want to sit back on the concrete and pull one back, I want to stop whatever I’m doing and have a reason to be out in the sun and I want something to do to feel poised. I want to stop getting lipstick on the ends. I love planning to smoke them hours ahead you can have one, you can go out and light it and sit there in the courtyard all alone and be at peace and then refusing when the time comes and making myself wait until I’ve forgotten. Until the next chance comes along when someone else is headed out for a drag and I can go along.

I’ve even learned to like the smell. The stench that always used to send me running and whining about how it hurt. I like the feel of that one good breath, since I’m still just learning this deal. I like the taste I like the pain I like the dream.

I like that you sat there and smoked this one with me, giving me the closest I’ve come to this sick twisted fantasy I’ve been harboring for months. That you lit me with a dying match you’d just lit yourself with before you flicked it away. I like that you spoke with me and let me lift your pants to see your boots, and told me to suck it harder when I thought it wasn’t lit ohhhhhh I suck plenty hard I do.

This is that secret little thing about cigarettes that I can’t tell any of my other friends who’d never understand, who I hide from when I’m puffing and when I’m carrying and when I’m wishing I could let myself go and grab another, though in a day or two that subsides. That little secret that I’m only telling you because I know you smoke them too. You who can’t give me that awful look. That I love cigarettes. I do.

That's one secret.

... But there’s a different look you’d give me, peeking over that orange end between your fingers for my other secret that I’d tell anyone but you. That I love you. When you crush out that butt and still stay until I’ve finished mine, I love you. Your hands too big to smoke a cigarette effectively I love you. You turning away forever, I love you. I love you. I do.

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