Reads: 429  | Likes: 5  | Shelves: 2  | Comments: 8

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Health and Fitness  |  House: Review Chain

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This short story is for Archia’s new contest. Please enjoy and read responsibly.

I light the cigarette.

It burns at the end with a familiar orange glow.

I just got into another fight with my girlfriend.

Well, ex-girlfriend.

I knew exactly what I did wrong. But I don’t regret it.

No one should have to be punished for being themselves.

The cigarette continues to shorten. It’s like the riddle with the candle.

What grows shorter with age? Cigarettes.

They used to help me. But now they are the enemy.

An army of rolled up tobacco and other harmful chemicals.

But you can’t kill them with fire without getting caught in the smoke.

The ex-girlfriend is still sending messages. Blaming me.

She’s right, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

I tried my hardest. But there’s only so much I can do as myself.

I want to be me. It’s hard being me but I want to, anyway.

There are things about myself I cannot change.

The cigarette is halfway gone.

Just like the fuck that needed to be given right now.

The fuck that told me to get up again and get back in the fight.

I hated that voice. It was never that easy, but it was also right.

It wasn’t about hope. It was about survival. The one instinct I can never be free of.

Which is why I’m still here.

Getting in fights with girlfriends,

Moving from job to job,

Being myself,

Finding new ways to exist,

Because survival is a bitch.

The cigarette is almost gone.

I used to smoke because I wanted to shorten my lifespan. There was no way in hell I wanted to get old.

But now it’s an addiction, just like life. Living day to day, seeking the next thrill.

I throw out the cigarette.

Submitted: October 12, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Jon Nathaniel. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:


Matthew Hair

This is a really interesting piece. You really delve into the psyche of the narrator and it feels like they're having a sort of retrospective on their entire life.

The way the cigarette is used throughout the story is really clever as well.

Overall, good story. :)

Wed, October 13th, 2021 1:34am


Thank you!

Fri, October 15th, 2021 8:39am

Lisa Gayle

Burning through life leaving a toxic footprint. Nice analogy.

Wed, October 13th, 2021 10:52am


This made me feel sad. (meant as a compliment since that's how powerful this story is to alter my emotion). Anyway, it made me sad when I realize that the person acknowledges that the cigarette is his enemy yet finds solace in it. The emotional pain one goes through after a breakup is well described accompanied by the addiction problem which is a consequence of the emotional turmoil the person faces and seems to be a remedy to get through the struggles. Emotional numbness can be felt in the lines "Moving from job to job, Being myself, finding new ways to exist, because survival is a ...." as though the user is forced to live the life he doesn't want to, signifying traces of depression. Loved this story, Kudos!

Wed, October 13th, 2021 11:02am


Thank you very much!

Fri, October 15th, 2021 8:38am


You can't kill them with fire without getting caught in smoke". I love this line. Though provoking.

Thu, October 14th, 2021 12:39am


This story is fabulous! I like the way how you compare your break-up(with your girlfriend) and the cigarette..
This story starts with lightening a cigarette.. Flows on with the feelings and emotions of a broken-hearted boy.. A riddle.. The boy is struggling with his emotions.. Then, the story ends with throwing out the cigarette..
I really like the flow of this story, Mann..

But, it's a bit sad coz, you've stated that the cigarette is a part of his life.. Even though he knows that it has tobacco and other harmful chemicals, it is a part of his life.. And you say that he uses the cigarette to shorten his life.. There is quote in the first Sinhala novel(Meena by A. Simon De Silva) as, "The man who drinks alcohol has to deal with a lot of problems in order to get rid of one problem".. 'Alcohol' means all okay? Cigarettes, beers and everything..
(Btw, I'm out of the topic..)

So, I wish you all the best with the contest.. I think Archia will have a hard time when selecting the winners!!
Cheers!! = )

Fri, October 15th, 2021 11:54am


Thank you!

Fri, October 15th, 2021 6:03am

olive tree

False: the harmful chemicals come from combustion of the tobacco. They do add gross resin-saturated paper strips to the mixture, however, unless you're smoking organic.

Seriously though, great story. I'm fairly certain contest winners here are chosen using nepotism, so hopefully you're the judge's friend, but nonetheless good luck ;)

Tue, October 19th, 2021 4:37am


I really liked how you used the cigarette in this. It created this constant flow that overarched the whole poem even when it wasn't being mentioned. I also really liked how at the end it shows what the cigarette meant in their life and what it means now. Your poem was really great to read and very well done.

Mon, October 25th, 2021 9:31pm


Thank you very much! I had a great time writing it!

Mon, October 25th, 2021 2:43pm

olive tree

Lovely flow of emotion. Good luck in the contest, given it's likely rigged. At any rate you should be proud of this piece.

Sat, November 13th, 2021 8:56am

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