Chain Smoker

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man sat on a park bench, under a tree with a cigarette in his mouth and a pack by his side. He smoked one after another, lighting the next with the last. What happened to leave him so breathless?

Submitted: May 12, 2014

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Submitted: May 12, 2014

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“Lit with the flame of another cigarette, someone asks me how sad it is that he smokes without taking a breath.”

 

Breathless

 

The crackle of dried leaves threatened to give their position away. They headed towards the creek, and to get there they had to go right through Mr.Mckormiks back yard. There was no other way, if they knew of one they would have took it.

“Walk quieter” Chester whispered as loud as a whisper could be.

June turned around and waved her hand around. Her motion and facial expression told Chester that he was worrying too much. An instance of irritation brewed within him, he wasn’t used to sneaking around. Just barely sixteen, he wasn’t much used to girls either. When he was with June, every second Friday night, he did things he never thought he would. Like tonight he was pretendin’ to be at Jon’s house working on a project for school. Until the day Chester met June, nothing in life was very interesting, in fact mostly everything was just plain lousy. It still was, it always was, except for every second Friday when Jane’s father drove through town.

Jane’s father was a tough business man that inspected wood mills all across the county. Chester had only seen him from afar, and was not interested in meeting him. The man was always yelling and you could see that people around him became submissive when he talked and pointed. Jane was nothing like him, she was sweet and was always saying things that made Chester feel good, things that Chester had never noticed. “You are real good at wearing hats” she said one night. “You know just when to touch the rim and when to take it off, or when to put it on. You even know when it should fall off.” She said. Chester had thought she was foolish at first. This had been the first and only thing she had ever said to him. It was the first Friday they had crossed paths. June was wondering around the general store waiting for her Pa. She just explored the town while he completed the inspection of the town’s mill. Chester just smiled, paid for the milk and went home. All week long, his mind was on how he wore his hat. He played around with it and even tried to get better at it. Every now and then he would stop, thinkin’ the whole thing was foolish, or when someone caught him in the act. Soon enough June’s face would reappear in his mind and he would carry on. He went back to the store the following Friday, but she never showed up.

The following Saturday, Chester invented a new reason for why he had to go into town, and walked down the side of the dirt road until he got near the store. He nearly froze when he saw June standing near the entrance. She saw him right away too and started walking quickly towards him. In a panic he reached for his hat in an attempt to show off the new hat wearing skills he had developed. He grasped the back and flipped it off his head, overly eager he flipped it too hard and it escaped his hands falling straight into a mud puddle by his feet. What a fool he had just made of himself. He picked his, now drenched hat, out of the puddle. When he rose, June was standing right in front of him. “You don’t need a hat today, it’s cloudy.” She said ridding him of all his cares. “This is the girl I will share my days with.” He thought to himself. She grabbed his hand and snuck away, until June had to hurry back just before her father left. This left Chester feeling euphoric and empty as he waved at the cloud of dust leaving town.

They met up like this every Friday, for four and a half hours, the time it took to inspect the mill. Tonight they had decided, rather June had and Chester followed, to go to the river bed down in the valley. Once they had made it past Mr.Mckormiks back yard June said “It’s just around here I think. I have been here once before.” Chester followed her in the dimly lit forest. Soon they could hear faint sounds of running water. Excited June began to run towards the sound. Chester had no choice but to run after her, but his damp hat had got caught on a branch. He stopped to free it, but by the time he turned around she was gone. His heart began to beat harder. He was not a cowardly boy, but he was far from fearless. He squinted his eyes and moved around yelling softly. “June?” he heard a noise. His imagination took hold of him. “June?” He heard another sound that he was convinced was something that was hungry and about to eat him. He took off franticly, jumping and ducking over and around trees. He seemed to glide through the forest, fueled by fear and adrenaline. While he moved as fast as he could, time seemed to slow down. “June?!” he said between exasperated breaths partially to find her and partially asking to be saved. Suddenly he pierced through the tree line, into the bright moonlight, onto the river’s edge. “Did you get lost?” June said calmly. She was sitting with her bare feet in the running water. Chester didn’t answer, catching his breath. It was best he keep what just happened to himself. He sat down next to her, by the river side.

They both sat there for awhile, as Chester awkwardly tried to move himself closer to June just a little at a time. June then pulled out a cigarette. “I took it from my Pa.” she said just before she lit it. Chester watched her put it in her lips and breathe in and then gently exhale into the cold air. The cloud of smoke cloaked the moon just for an instant. She then handed the burning cigarette to Chester. He examined it for a bit, and saw the tip was still wet from her lips. He could taste her chap stick when he inhaled. He too cloaked the moon for a moment. They traded it back and forth as they sat on the river bed, until there was nothing left and they let it float away down the river. Chester eventually drew up the courage to reach for her hand; he lifted his hand and his stomach got tense. Just as he touched her skin she exclaimed.

“I’m late, by Pa is going to be furious.” her hand slid away from Chester’s and she disappeared into the forest. Chester scrambled to his feet, but wasn’t as fast as she. By the time he made it back to the store, he could just barely see the car disappear in the distance. He still waived.

Two Saturday’s later he was at the store, until dusk, she didn’t show up. He figured June had gotten in trouble with her father. At the beginning of the following month, he showed up again. This time June’s father was there, but she was not. Chester did not have the nerve to ask him where she was, not until two seasons had past. “Excuse me Sir. Do you know where June is?” Chester asked with a quivering voice. “That’s none of your concern you little meddling shit, get out of here.” The man said fiercely. Chester fled home, but on the way vowed that he would build up the courage to ask again. June had given him strength he had never had before and never wanted to lose. He dreamt of the days they had, and they one’s they will share. Nothing could stand in his way.

Two Saturdays later, Chester walked up to June’s father who was talking with another man near a car. Chester gathered up more courage than he had ever had. “Sir, I really need to know where June is, I think I love her.” He said. The rouged man’s face instantly softened. He bent down to Chester’s height and put his hand on his shoulder. “So did I kid.” He said. “I’m sorry but she died a couple of months ago, in a car accident when we were heading home.” He said. Chester’s eyes uncontrollably filled with tears. The man regained his stern face and stood again. “You’ll be fine, you’re young.” He said as he resumed his conversation with the other man.

Chester hid himself behind the general store as his world collapsed. Hours passed until he went into the store, still teary eyed. “Give me a pack sir.” He demanded. “Oh my, you are far too young…” the clerk began. “Give me a PACK!!!” Chester demanded. “My girlfriend died and I don’t know what to do.” He said as he lowered his head, ashamed that he had gotten angry. “Here son.” The clerk said as he handed Chester what he asked for. “That’ll be 95cent.” He said. Chester put the money on the counter, ran out of the store and to the river bed. He lit the cigarette and inhaled. It did not taste like peach Chap Stick. He slowly exhaled, but there was no moon to cloak. He sat, with his feet in the river water, and smoked one after another hoping she would reappear. His ashes floated away with hers down the river in the valley.

 

-LLS

 


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