181-200

181. Daphne was a whole different sort of creature, fucked like she had aims on replacing the sky and in the morning would sit on his toilet while he shaved, smoking her cigarette and narrating back what were her favorite portions of what she’d had him do.

182. Fireflies strode around, what a lot of rascals, the fumes of his cigarette mixing with the blips of where they’d moved do, disappeared, moved to.

183. After twenty minutes he just gave up on the extension cord, wrapped the part he’d untangled around his wrist three times, pulling tight until his fingers all lost blood, went cigarette white, tingled, and then he relaxed and let the chill of life returning to them spread as much through him as he could.

184. The clerk pointed to a wrong pack, another, another (finally getting the right brand when he said ‘Those ones about the size of a pill bottle’) and then made some bashful small talk, not red with embarrassment but a shade more pink, saying how he didn’t smoke cigarettes, said it seemed weird these weren’t cheaper since they didn’t have the filters.

185. All evening Tony smoked, passing the cigarette hand-to-hand between each drag, air of a fellow who’d shown up for the funeral of someone he’d never found time to apologize to.

186. There was a particular woman he’d seen one autumn, remembered everything about that few minutes—her ten-cent eyes and the aplomb of her dousing a cigarette in the last of the lemonade she’d ordered, her plum colored coat shoulders, her uncovered mouth coughing as she crossed through the parking lot, and the sound of more coughs while he’d seen her waiting for the signal to turn at the crosswalk.

187. Both men chuckled I-don’t-know faces at each other, took turns giving hard looks around, both with it in mind to use the coffee cup left on the bench center as receptacle for their done cigarettes, one of them thinking the man reading the newspaper had been drinking it and might be back for it, the other thinking, no, it was that other man who was laughing with some bike riders who’d pulled up at the curb.

188. In the unlit mirror, he took this or that position, giving himself stern regard, comparing his musculature to hers, looking for similarities—he wanted the cigarette feminine of her forearms to thin wrists, had grown to hate the masculine lack of bones showing on his hand backs.

189. In the rock covered path of the garden, Roman began to remark not so much the obscure bits of litter—a syringe, a toy shark, some playbills, portions of burst balloons and other whole balloons still tied and gone airless—but how for every rock there seemed to be a piece of cigarette, so much the rocks seemed just as ill belonging as them.

190. He watched her dress, how she did it between swallows in of smoke, cigarette then set to the sink counter—the cotton of the same green dress as always, it was a kind of fox fur over fresh leather how she made it to her shape.

191. In the smeared baubles of the past midnight traffic, she lost sight of the hearse, kept looking for its cigarette long as the road opened up and she drove faster, intent of making up time she hadn’t really lost—even the next day she still kind of looked, waited an extra five minutes in parked car through radio commercials at each rest stop, thinking it might be just about to pull in.

192. First gentle, then teeth tight, she sucked the length of his tongue, giggling and still unbuttoning her blouse, and soon he could scent the cigarettes he’d been smoking all night in her breath, kissed her more aggressively, took both his fistfuls of her hair and stumble dragged her, both laughing at the sound of the coins falling from his pants dragged along like an obsolete tail from where they still clung to one of his ankles, until they managed to find a wall for him to press her against.

193. In the apartment she felt progressively more hidden, each turned over short glass of vodka muting and dimming the thought of any world but the radio she sang along to with more disregard for lyrics or tune, each cigarette making her voice more sour-frog.

194. The neighborhood kids he’d paid to shovel the snow from his driveway were passing a cigarette between them—one must have been no more than seven, the girl he knew was called Christine and was only just in high school, the boy who seemed oldest not much older than her—and he watched over the lukewarming coffee he wasn’t drinking, wondering, as an adult, if there was something he ought to be doing about this.

195. Tonight seemed listless, the dark confused and going nowhere—we thought maybe each speck of it was wanting our cigarettes, not minding what it ought to be doing, not acting like night, just wanting to borrow a drag, get close enough to hear what we were saying, but our voices were kept so low even all night couldn’t get at our secrets.

196. Then he tried C-minor, A-major, D-minor, B-flat, E-sharp with a few wrong notes mixed in—which chord sounded the most like a cigarette, which the most like a steamboat, which the most like some beggar wishing the fog were a roof and some walls?

197. Two left in the pack, but they were her cigarettes and so he really would rather not smoke them—the bark of her shouting lurked the empty rooms, still, wouldn’t get off him, the wet and sting of a snowball.

198. Every customer who came in, he’d watch them browse videos, ponder them nude—this one, her body seemed, if revealed, would be about as interesting as the plot of an outdated paperback, the only sensual thing about her the tight square of cigarettes in her back pocket.

199. On days where Julia could see Jessica, even just for a cigarette, it was an Indian summer, tobacco odored talk about the most trivial things—days when she couldn’t, those were soundless winters surrounded by the promise of Hell.

200. Kyle’s brother tried to explain Wendy to him but it was all such arcana—these claims of his that she sang English songs in French, laughed in German, held grudges over ungiven cigarettes in a diaspora Greek.

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