Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A short story

I've posted this online before so I thought I would share it here. It's a short story. Enjoy! :)

Silk Gloves and a Single Cigarette

The heady, cloying atmosphere of the function room was too much for her. Carol held up the bottom of her skirt with her gloved hands as she navigated her way over and around the muddy puddles that had formed on the ground from the morning’s rain.

As she reached the alcove she glanced around her surreptitiously before reaching into her handbag and pulling out the solitary cigarette that was stashed away inside, stolen from her sister’s pack early that morning. Seven months had passed since she’d given up, but she considered that this was an occasion that allowed, even merited, a slight stumble from the path of self-discipline.

She lit it with a lighter she’d also stolen, off one of the tables as she’d gone around greeting everyone, thanking them for coming, making the same inane small talk, waiting while they all milled around hoping to get a look at her while they shook her hand and kissed her cheek.

The timid flame flickered in the breeze but Carol shielded it with her cupped hand until she was able to draw deeply on the feisty tingling smoke, sucked it down to the bottom of her lungs as her throat rejoiced with the scratching sensation it created. The past seven months evaporated; addiction returned at once.

I’ve wanted this for so long, she thought as she flicked the grey ash and let it be blown off in smithereens in the wind. I’ve waited so long for this day, I’ve prayed for it.

She inhaled again, wishing she’d taken a whole packet; if she had she would have smoked them all. The relaxation that had kicked in after the first drag was already dissipating.

Better get back to it, she thought with a sigh as she dropped the butt into one of the puddles, wondering if her dress would smell of smoke now, or the greasy chip scent coming from the vent a few feet away. She walked slowly, once again holding the bottom of her precious dress so the mud would not stain it, more because it would only draw yet more attention that she didn’t feel she could handle than because she really cared about a bit of mud.

She hoped to sneak in, relatively unnoticed, but of course that was impossible, as soon as she reached the door her sister was beside her, leading Carol toward a gaggle of his friends and family, dragging her into the centre of things once again. She forced her face into a brave smile. It’s just for one day, she reminded herself. Then the rest of my life can begin.

She cast her eyes across the room and saw him, looking pristine in his best suit, handsome as the first day she’d met him. The outfit brought out the delicate skin tone, the shadows of the room highlighted the arch of his nose and the dimples in his cheeks.

He looked calm and serene, and Carol had to force herself to hold the smile on her face, not to wilt, to crumple and go weak at the knees.

She tuned in once again to the racket of people chit-chatting, commenting on how well he looked, how it had been such a lovely service, how the priest had done such a nice job. She nodded and agreed and tried to say as little as possible in case her voice betrayed her emotional state.

She shook people’s hands, her silk gloves hiding the last bruises he’d given her, the final ones he’d ever give her she reminded herself.

Just the funeral to get through, the oversized photo of him watching over her, then she could burn the rest if she wanted to. Just another few hours, she might need to sneak around the back for another smoke to get through it, but he’d never stub one out on her wrist ever again, never make her scream, destroy her self esteem.

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