A Cigarette.


My name is David. I’m not a writer.

This story takes place over 4 years. As I recall those years, although you and I know the end, four pieces of the story come to mind: a cigarette, an island, a ring, and a text message.

I wasn’t a stranger to meeting girls online; I had recently updated my profile on a (then) popular social networking site. I didn’t update my profile often, but sometimes inspiration came.  I, honestly, can’t explain why I updated as sporadically and inspired as I did, but I did.  I’m not sure if you are a person that believes that things happen for a reason, but I am.  I believe, though the whole story hasn’t been told yet, that I updated my profile that day, in the way I did, for a reason.   My update mentioned that I “Spoke like an English teacher wrote.”

I received a message only a couple of days after updating. It was from a girl named Fina.  Her profile picture was upside down but it wasn’t an accident. It was a picture of her and her friend, Marissa. They were at a concert and another friend took the picture standing over them.  I’m a computer guy, so I could have saved the picture and rotated it.  I didn’t though. I tried to turn my head sideways to see her face…just her smile made me smile, it was infectious.

She had quotes from authors like Tolstoy and Twain on her quotes page. Her profile was one of a young but learned girl.   She had just graduated college and was looking for a job teaching English.  So there I was with a smart, hot almost-teacher messaging me.  I’ll bite.

We started talking. A lot. For those that don’t spend a lot of time creating this type of online connection, let me explain. It was before the time of iPhones and good mobile devices, so instant access was impossible. I’d be at work, wanting to hear from Fina, knowing that I had to wait until I was at home to continue our conversation. Obviously, when I went home I’d check my messages immediately to see if there was anything in my inbox. I’d later find out that Fina did the same thing.

Several weeks into our email exchanges, we also exchanged phone numbers.  We continued the conversation and flirting via the less-than-enough 140 characters of text messages.  This was perfect because I didn’t have to wait to get home to communicate with her, but I was getting anxious. We clicked, we knew how to make each other laugh, she got my quirks, and I got hers.  I wanted to meet her. For the first time in a while, I actually wanted to hang out with this girl (read: not progress to sex far faster than either of us needed) and I was going to try to make that happen.

She randomly invited me to her mom’s house while she was hanging out with her friend, Marissa.  I went; I understand her wanting someone else to be there.  A girl meeting a guy online is completely different, there are a whole set of worries that men don’t have to bother themselves with.  It was ok, but I wanted to hang out with her… I wanted the first time to be just us.  So I continued to try.

In my opinion, public places are good places to ‘meet’.  Perhaps now more than I did before, I like to drink. A proclivity for drinking probably also means that I like bars, which I do.  Why a bar and not dinner, you ask?  Bars are a calming mix of people and atmospheres, plus they serve alcohol making them even better for meeting, because if the conversation doesn’t seem to flow like you thought it would, alcohol helps.  I’ve had many favorite bars over the course of time and, at this time, one of my favorites was close to home. I asked Fina to meet me at the bar. She declined.

I was confused. I was thinking we were at the prime time in our “online chat” relationship to meet alone. I was wrong.

After a couple of attempts and several more “in-my-mind” sessions of thinking maybe she doesn’t want to be alone with me or that I’d try just one more time because maybe the last time I didn’t do something right… because the next time she’d accept.  She has to, we’ve been doing so well.  One night I was hanging with some friends and I received a text message to which I replied with a quick and probably awkward departure due north to a bar.

I pulled up, parked and found that I was more nervous than I had ever been meeting someone ever before.  I attribute this to the fact that, like I said before, I liked this girl.  I put my cigarettes in my right jean pocket, closed my door, and heard the awkward honk sound of my ‘99 Jetta echo in the strangely acoustic parking lot.

When I’m nervous I smoke.  When I drink I smoke.  When I drive I smoke.  I open the door and she’s waiting right there in the front with a smile on her face, she had a look on the rest of her face like she was surprised about something.  It seemed, at that point, we were the only ones not drinking or smoking, so we got a drink and started talking.  I know how some girls hate smokers.  My nerves had been sated by the conversation, but now I was drinking in a smokey bar.  I really wanted to smoke.  So I figured out the perfect way to approach this subject, I’d ask if she smoked, and if she said no, I’d say “Yeah, that’s gross” or something passive… But if she said…

“I wanna smoke, Do you smoke?”

She didn’t care, and she wasn’t about to playfully deny something that was a part of her life, no matter the stigma.

“Uh… yes” I said, while reaching into my right jeans pocket to retrieve my dirty little secret and light it on fire.