It starts with that one extra cigarette, sitting on your window sill, staring out into the clouds, the rain, the sun, the blue skies, whatever you’ve got, you just stare. Why lie about it anymore? It was never going to happen. You go round and round, in neat circles, in messy unspoken words, every possible scenario already played out in your head. There is nothing new left there. Nothing except your constantly oblique eyebrows that are now giving you a headache. The smoke collects around your lips, clouding your lungs and mind at the same time, every drag closing you up some more.
One last cigarette. Can you look at yourself for more than a second in the mirror? Probably not. You just stare at the love handles, the imagined wrinkle, those weak knees and you’re pretty sure your feet aren’t the same size. Your breasts are too small, too big, too average, too normal. Your hair is too damp, too wet, too long and too short, all at the same time. You glance away, wrap yourself in a towel as you swear you’ll never leave the house showing those knees again.
You refuse to let go. Because why would you?
Another cigarette, you have nothing better to do. That five seconds of fresh air stabbing your throat or an explosion you can’t explain, your head dizzying. There’s clearly something in the air. A swift crack of the lighter later, you take your third first drag at which point you remember all the words he had said about your smoking. “You are killing yourself.” Why couldn’t you see that? Have you any regard for your health? He’d tell you to stop. He’d not say a word, he wouldn’t even look at you while you smoked, but your cheeky grin would stay. Oh, the disapproval cracked you up, didn’t it? Just the thought that someone, however important, could tell you to do something. But the funniest part was that they expected you to follow along, stub out the cigarette. Don’t they know it’s the only time you can breathe? What happened to him? What happened to you? How did you get here? You’ll start wondering where he is, who he’s with, if he’s happy, because after all, that’s all you ever wanted. You realised you had expectations of him. It scared you off miles away, all because you couldn’t, you wouldn’t talk. Everything is fine, you’d say. He got tired of waiting, tired of being rejected and abandoned. It was best for him anyway. But you can’t let go, can you?
You look around your room, jump off the window sill and onto the floor. Just staring at the emptiness in your room, the meaningless clutter that you wouldn’t miss for a second. All the to-do lists but no photos, all the lamps, but none of the lightbulbs work. You take a peek at the lists, decide that’s for another day.